12" x 9"
oil on panel
Hi. It is time for a new self-portrait. I don't have a time-frame in mind for how often to make them, but time is marching on so Carpe Diem.
My face is not fractured as in previous paintings. Fracture/facture. The facture of a self-portrait is often more noticeable in ones that are fractured, when pieces of paint are laid to denote the framework of a head, related to the planes of Cubism. Cezanne, who came before Cubism, studied such planes in space but was also sensitive to color as form rather than decoration, frosting on a cake. [I love making sentences with "Cubism" and "cake frosting" in them.] In Self-Portrait with Rose Background [c. 1875 (140 Kb); Oil on canvas, 66 x 55 cm (26 x 21 5/8")], he defines the facets of his head with pieces of paint and even turns one such stroke into his delicate lower eyelid, the pedestal for his piercing gaze. He is as intense as the red-rose background. It swirls, breaks into his form, defining his ear, the space between his beard and moustache, his lips, and even cuts into his neck threatening decapitation like Nearly Headless Nick from Harry Potter. He plays a similar game with the background and figure interacting in his Self-Portrait 1878-80 [(160 Kb); Oil on canvas, 60.3 x 46.9 cm (23 3/4 x 18 1/2 in); The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.] He is supposed to have been a quiet person and I've noticed his mouth is often obscured in his self-portraits while his eyes are very alert. His voice is his vision. The mouth in this gets lost in his beard of yellow ochre and greens with black marks, exactly like the background. His hairline continues in the sharp line of his collar, accentuating his vertical, solid presence. The word for his stare that keeps coming to me is "shrewd". Even a used car salesman would back down.
Now back to me. I don't want it to be all about me, but it is self-portraits we are talking about and they are reflexive in nature. I'm not looking shrewd. I can't say no to Girl Scouts selling cookies, but I am old enough to see a scam despite the clarity of my face. Landscape colors are the background with dots like my current paintings. They visually interplay with the blue circles of my collar and eye; this is what I see. A patch of purple background is the springboard for the purple turn of the collar; its blue is the mixture of the landscape yellow and green, completing the land with sky, blue hollow circles make for white cloud centers. The curl of my hair and its red highlights (not natural : ) suggest playfulness, very different than Cezanne's brewing. You can check out my blog of archives for my own brewing Self-Portrait With Gloved Hand from 1999. Both Cezanne paintings and the Degas Self-Portrait in the Getty Museum that I haven't forgotten (I saw it more than ten years ago) are in three quarter view, as is mine. Answers.com defines three-quarter view as, "A view of an object which is midway between a front and a side view." We don't disclose all but you get a good look. Speaking of museums, art museum lovers will get a laugh from this article in The Onion. Take time to play.