Teaching myself to draw was a part of daily life as a housewife and (after I was 26) mother.
Drawing is disciplined observation. When there was no time to go out into a landscape or to set up a still life, I used to draw from pictures in magazines or postcards. With time allotted I tried various schemes indoors and out. I could record the field and tree, or use a mirror to study a human being. I studied my own reflection as objectively as I would a landscape, looking for planes and lines and shapes and trying to get the right relationships between them.
Later in life, a self-portrait was a way to get involved in painting again after times of distraction, without the need to schedule a model. In building a composition, the subject was to be examined in an abstract way by noting forms and the relationships of shapes, planes and rhythmic lines in terms of values, colors. This becomes a nearly automatic way of working. Mood and psychological analysis may spur an initial idea or may creep in unconsciously, until I later understood they had been dictating the entire procedure.
These days what I want to do is trace the patterns of aging, and even to show some kind of truth about what it is to be old age, alive in the moment, whole and aware, able to look back at experience and forward to understand meanings.
At present as I set out to portray myself or any other person, I am chiefly concerned with the spirit, the stage of life, the feeling and inwardness implied by the persons appearance. I want to capture the individual spirit that underlies the looks. The way of manipulating the drawing or painting medium, once paramount, is now less conscious. Today I am still ruled by the decision I made many years ago. This was the commitment to a truthful integrity of vision. This notion implanted in me a meticulous manner of working that sometimes seems too fussy. It tries my patience until impatience breaks out with a deeper inquiry, a renewed testing of habitual ways.
Tuesday, October 18, 2001