My First 40 Years
#7: A Painter
1990 oil on linen 36x32” private collection
Remember the ten answers I’d given to the question “Who am I?”? Number 7 was “I am a Painter.”
It took so much courage to state this at the time. It felt, and still feels, presumptuous, because I’m saying I’m one of the group that contains titans like Rembrandt and Velázquez. Nevertheless, this is the gift that I was given, this is the talent that I chose to develop, and I needed to paint myself in this, my chosen profession. The harsh gaze is what most painters look like when concentrating, trying to be objective about what they are actually seeing. Now and then someone like Rembrandt will mug for the viewer, but most often there is that cold objectivity of Velázquez in Las Meninas, or the intent gaze of Raphael in The School of Athens, or again the cold objectivity of Sargent in his self-portraits. “One needs to be totally objective, harsh with one’s self, to prevent affectation with color or drawing.” (Sargent) This painting took a long time to make… I believe it took close to a year, and I believe I sanded off the face more than once to start over. Perhaps commissioned portraits or painting one’s parents are harder, but self-portraits are quite demanding, too.