Friday, 26 February 2010

The past repeating

Today's been one of those strange days when for all your will to get down to some work nothing seems to get done.

I messed around this morning with a couple of new composition ideas (which I'll blog about later), but have been dogged all day by this steady feeling of dissipated energies.

Then, returning from a shopping trip to my local Asda, I stuck my headphones on and spent an hour or so making these two self portraits.

I really wanted to be as honest as possible in these drawings. I've noticed lately certain changes in my appearance; age, bad diet, a combination of things has altered my jawline and I wanted to capture this, and other subtle changes.

The first drawing, though conscientiously done, is nice but nothing more. I've drawn myself so often over the years that it's difficult not to become mechanical when copying from life.

And copying is an impulse I really have to fight if I'm to make a good drawing.

In this first drawing I still look like the old me. It's a bit flattering I suppose, though I look miserable as usual, despite the fact that I was enjoying listening to XFM.

The second drawing was not as easy as the first. I was making marks with the 4b pencil but something failed to happen. I'm pretty good at getting a likeness and what was appearing on the page just didn't look like me. There was desperation, a sadness in the eyes and mouth, even the shape of the face seemed flabby and loose. Then something very strange happened. I began to see my Nan's eyes (my Mum's Mum) instead of my own on the page. My Nan died in 1986, when I was 19. I saw her dying in hospital and it affected me very deeply at the time. After she died (she lived with us during the last few months of her life, though I was only told that she had terminal cancer the night she finally left our house for the hospital) I began to see her face in mine. The same thing happened 4 years ago when my Dad died. I felt as if my Nan, then my father, had entered my body and a little bit of me had been squeazed out and that they were now inside me. I don't know why I should feel this way, maybe it's part of grief? Maybe these resemblances were there all the time, but the absence of the 'scaffold' of the other person, makes the resemblance all the more noticeable?

Eventually as I drew my Nan's melted away and there was my own face. Not exactly as I look in the mirror, but me in a deeper sense. This has never happened to me before in a drawing. It seems quite a spiritual thing, despite the matter of fact way it happened.

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