June 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have been listening to the Mental Illness Happy Hour whenever I have my ear buds on. It has been helping me to make sense of my experience, of the decisions I am making about family contact, and about how to approach my own mental health challenges. I have been drawing comfort from the conversations and the difficult topics that get covered in each episode. One of the most important developments I have drawn from the podcast is a new understanding of my portrait practice.

I draw and paint portraits. My practice has been interrupted by the dissertation writing, but it is never far from my mind. Once the dissertation is done I intend to get back to work, this time with renewed vigour. Although I felt compelled to work with portraits as multiple instances of images, I hadn’t figured out an underlying meaning to the compulsion.

When I draw or paint a portrait, I cannot do just one portrait to stand as a representation of that individual. I have to do 12 portraits, of different points of view and different focus of the sitter. On top of that, I have also been fascinated with making blind contour studies of the portraits, which make for very interesting psychological portraits. I used to be a little disturbed by my attraction to this style of drawing and painting portraits, now I see them as the representation of that which is not on the surface, that which is the reality of an internal life. Whatever we may interpret as we look at those distorted shapes, lines and images, we are also interpreting something of ourselves, our own internal condition shows itself as we make meaning of these strange images.

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