Until quite recently self-portraits were something I started, then promptly abandoned, to be hidden at the bottom of a stack of canvases in the studio never to see the light of day again.
It was during the writing of the final chapter of Painting Still Life in Oils when I began to look at how artists used still life elements within their self-portraits that I once again thought about tackling a painting of ‘self’. Looking at the work of many painters made me consider how the two genres of still life and portraiture could be brought together, used for either narrative, biographical or purely decorative purposes.
As ‘independent’ still life painting initially grew out of figure compositions and religious paintings – think of the exquisite still life arrangements in Caravaggio’s ‘Supper at Emmaus’ (NG) and Velasquez’ ‘Old Woman Cooking Eggs’ (NGS), it was then fascinating to see how objects had been used by painters from the Nineteenth Century through to the present day, from Degas to Gilman, and Kahlo to Freud.
Portrait of the Artist with Still Life
With the exception of the painting above, recent months had been concerned solely with painting still life and preparing for a group show The Geometry of Painting at Medici Gallery.
The close of the academic year brought an opportunity to begin working from the figure and the head once again. This most recent self portrait painted during the summer represents a time of reflection and evaluation, of new starts and exploring new ideas.