The act of self portraiture

It’s been so long since I put brush to canvas but the opportunity to exhibit at Inkwell came up and I only had three days to get something done. It’s felt like a hard time of late, much angst, self reflection and self doubt, probably all linked to starting my new job (although I do love it).

The last piece I painted ‘Javanese Cloth’ was on show at the International Womens Day Exhibition and was something I felt relatively comfortable creating despite feeling so rusty. All in all I was pleased with the results and since the piece has now sold and it gained many admirers, it can’t have been bad. For me, in my own heart, I knew I hadn’t really pushed myself. I knew I had chosen an easy option.

This time I wanted a challenge. An idea left over from the Place and memory project was the desire to start a series of portraits. I never paint faces so I knew this could be something I could get my teeth into. As I ripped off the clear plastic covering to my new primed canvas I was excited but nervous to try practice my skills again.

I decided to paint myself, not in a narcissistic way but as an experiment of the actual process, but also to push myself out of my comfort zone artistically.

rivers run deepRivers Run Deep
Acrylic on canvas 2014

The Process

It was a very interesting experiment and one I may want to return to again. The act of painting myself was both painful and cathartic. I am a person who doesn’t like themselves much but as an artist I decorate, embellish and beautify my work with painstaking detail. So the process of spending so much time on ‘myself’ was very odd and felt uncomfortable. My emotions were all over the place as I self analysed, self loathed and questioned every mark or brush stroke. I wanted to destroy and deface what was in front of me, however, my creative side wanted aesthetics and balance and my decorative style was itching to come and play. The two contradictory parts of my persona battled the whole way through this process.
Destroy, hate, ugly. Love, nurture, beautify.

I decided to call the piece “Rivers Run Deep” as I understand the way I am: my vulnerabilities, my faults, my insecurities, are not easily changed. We can all try our best to put on our masks but our emotions are strong and run to the core of who we are. Our rivers run deep.



1 Comment

  1. Amanda , when I say “I know your pain” please know I truly resonate to what you have written here. I have times when I totally freeze up and become immobilized by what I’m thinking/feeling. I have to
    Be on medication for this and if I did not create and make every day and constantly work on projects, it would be like asking me to stop breathing. You are not alone. Just keep getting up every morning and hug your cat!

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