I hate my stupid face. And I love it, and I hate it.

What is a self portrait: An act of vanity, fantasy, of self-loathing? All? None?

How can we even paint ourselves when we don’t even see ourselves as others do?

Or how can we represent ourselves when so much of our selves is unknown to us? – the subconscious, the denied.

How do we represent what we substantially are, in a superficial world?

There are no answers entire offered here but those are some of the questions I’ve asked in between swearing and silence.

I began this self-portrait ages ago. I painted a relatively realistic rendering of my face, then I painted over it a grotesque charicature, then I painted over this a beautified version.

I’ve now returned to it, and using ‘dramatic’ upwards lighting created a layer over this tending towards the grotesque and the realistic at once in an attempt to balance all three versions in one.

I’m not happy with it, but then neither am I happy with my face. Acceptance is the order of the day.



Acrylic still life of femur, iPhone, jar of plastic flowers.

Work in progress.

A still life of a femur, an iPhone and plastic flowers in a jar of water. Work in progress.

I like bones as organic objects and symbols of mortality, and I like also the contemplation of man’s place in the scheme of things, which he decorates with all manner of fanciful conceits. The supposed dominance of nature, while still at mercy of her whims. The plastic flowers are perhaps a symbol of this.

In Kubrick’s Space Odyssey he illustrates the key-point evolution of man from ape through the use of a bone as a murderous tool: Thrown into the air it transforms into a space ship, another great evolutionary leap.  These leaps are marked by enigmatic slabs – markers or beacons, it is never explicitly explained – they appear to be the work of an overseeing alien intelligence. In this still life the iPhone and bone allude to this.

The souls progress through the abattoir

This painting has some way to go still. I don’t get to work on it often. In case you’re wondering about the title, the sentence deliberately has ambiguous meanings but the key implied meaning is the one for which the grammar is correct – i.e. a description of a plurality of souls in the act of moving through an abattoir.

I’ll be honest about this piece. I am not happy with it. I had this idea, a scene in my head, full of symbols that struck me as true, but I did only the most cursory preparation and went straight onto the canvas and the result doesn’t do justice to the original idea. I was trying for a distorted and dreamlike depiction but this is too clumsy. This is therefore just a preparatory work for the eventual piece. I have since done some sketching and prep for it but have yet to begin.