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Self Portraits

Today I turn 36. Another year around the sun. I spent the last few days painting a new self-portrait. Painting yourself is a strange thing. Lots of silent conversations in my head about who this person is. She used to be someone else completely. She used to have brown hair and a cross necklace. She used to be so timid, so disconnected from herself, so fearful. But she’s different now. She’s me now.

I dug up all my self-portraits throughout the years – there aren’t many, but the few that I have are interesting to reflect on.  There’s more than just a transformation of painting skills, but the evolution of a spirit, a mind, and a heart.

I took a drawing class in college. It was the only art class I took. Our final project was drawing our self-portrait. It’s interesting that I chose to include monuments from all over the world and a French hat. At first you might think, oh she must love to travel, and sure that’s true, but when I see it, I see someone who didn’t have an identity, someone playing dress up, someone grabbing on to the biggest things she could find so that she didn’t get lost.

My Frida inspired portrait. I had just watched the movie Frida, and I fell in love with her, I wanted to be her. She was brave and bold and daring and everything I felt I wasn’t.  I wanted to paint myself to look like her. My uneducated little brain didn’t realize at the time that this could be viewed as insensitive, so away I went.

Picasso Era. When I started exploring Picasso’s cubist portraits, I thought, hey, I can do that! So here is my Picasso-style self-portrait. A piece constrained by my then-limited technical skills but you can see the eagerness.

Exploration.  Ohhh…this is looking interesting. I’m onto something. Techniques are being tested, growth is happening. This is my only other self-portrait done in oils.

I just finished this self-portrait today (3/24/2024) my 36th birthday. I can’t help but compare it to my other self-portraits. The first thing I notice is the woman she’s become. I know that in this photo, she’s at one of her art fairs. I know that she made those gummy bear earrings by hand. I know that she dyed her hair pink because it meant something to her. I see what her eyes have seen. I see her looking at this painting with delight and I’m just so proud of her.


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