Self-Portrait in the Morning

4 Nov
In this, the last semester of my Bachelor’s degree, despite the overwhelming insanity of student teaching, I decided that squeezing the last drops of educational opportunity and studio space out of my degree was important enough to take a painting class I don’t actually need. And though my time and effort input has been less than ideal, I’m really very excited about the work that’s coming out of it.
I felt the call of oil painting. The simplicity of losing oneself in a completely predictable medium. Where I don’t have to worry about how it functions, how it balances, how it holds together, how it moves, what will happen if I do such-and-such. I am free to just pour myself into the creation of something beautiful. 
I have forgone any attempt at the conceptual. I am painting what I want to paint just because I think it is lovely. I am painting quiet, intimate moments from my daily life. Each painting in the series is 10″ x 10″ and began with the same jade green underpainting. Hopefully that will be enough to keep the series cohesive while I dabble about, exploring whatever I feel compelled to explore. But I suppose I won’t really know until they’re all complete.
The first painting is a self-portrait, braiding my hair in front of a mirror. I wanted it to have an early morning quality; I wanted my gaze to reveal a hazy quality, as if I’m still lost in my dreams, or some other thought. Not looking at the viewer, but looking beyond the viewer.
My intention was to take intermittent photos throughout the whole process. Unfortunately, I forgot until I was four or five hours deep, so this first image is after four or five hours of work.
Back in the classroom at my student teaching placement, my 10th graders were involved in a Post-Impressionist portrait project. Looking at Van Gogh with them I began to think, “This is beautiful. I’ve never done anything like this before.” The thick, impasto paint; the swirling strokes. And as I contemplated ways to separate the two figures as real and reflection, I thought, “Why not? No harm in giving it a try.”
So I went all impasto on my braid, and added an impasto mirror frame to balance the suddenly very left-leaning composition.

The painting is essentially complete, I think, though I’m still in the process of building up the surface of the mirror with a nice, glossy varnish to add to the illusion.

More to come!
Cheers,
Melody
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One Response to “Self-Portrait in the Morning”

  1. Stephanie November 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Love the contrast between "real" and reflection!!! I'm looking forward to seeing the ones to follow.:-) mom

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