There’s no escape from the state of confusion I’m in.” – Ray Davies
It must be hard for even an egotist to look too closely at his face in the mirror, and I’m no egotist. Some people find it helpful to ask another to take a hard look at them and offer advice. I’ve been told more than once that I might benefit from therapy but it always makes me think of the old joke:
As painful and confusing as my life sometimes gets, I don’t want to change. Also, what if I take a hard look at myself and find out I’m a dick? I don’t need that kind of aggravation. Or what if I find out I hate my mother? That would suck because I love my mother.
Great visual artists from Vincent Van Gogh to Norman Rockwell have dabbled with self-portraiture. Most, but by no means all of them, keep their ears attached to the head.
It’s a form of therapy that’s almost the opposite of meditation. Instead of clearing your mind you fill it up, with yourself.
Here are some of my experiments with the form:
The sketch on the left is from the fall of 1982. I was taking a painting class in SUNY Oneonta. The mirror that hung over the toilet in our off-campus house was in rough shape. Seven years bad luck and so forth. The painting on the right is from 1983.
The 80s were a good decade for self-portraits. The one on the left below is from 1984 and the one on the right, from 1985, is titled “Gettin’ Drunk,” for obvious reasons.
The one on the left below is from 1987, titled “Trouble in Paradise” and in the other, from 1989, I’m wearing the requisite Ramones T-Shirt. It’s written backwards, of course, because of the whole mirror thing.
I don’t know what happened in the 90s. Even in the 00s I didn’t do any sketches of myself. I guess I got it out of my system in the 80s. In 2004, on a trip to Costa Rica, I snapped the picture of my shadow on the left.
And last night I did the one on the right. What can I say: it was a rough day.