Thursday, August 5, 2010

Self portraits

In my experience you don't want to be drawing or painting yourself. The resultant picture will, by definition, be posed, and thus lack the sort of vibrancy and vitality I try to achieve when drawing others from life. However, there were a few rare occasions during my two years of military conscription between mid-1979 and mid-1981 when I found myself with enough privacy to turn the pen on myself. These are the few images I have managed to ferret out.

Somewhat the worse for wear (both me and the picture), I frankly cannot recall where or when I did this, but it would have been during the latter part of the 18 or so months I spent at 1 Intelligence Unit in Kimberley. My recollection is that this would not have been done in a mirror, but rather from a reflection in a pane of glass.

Here the eyes seem to have "that look," as Tim Rice wrote in Jesus Christ Superstar, "you very rarely find - the haunted, hunted kind".

Again working on a piece of military-issue lined paper, I think I would have done this during one of those relentless nights on guard duty. After wading through the large drawing, again done from a reflection in a window, I would have knocked off the two quicker ones below for a bit of fun, and the end result is no doubt better.

Again, I pore into the depths of my soul during guard duty.

The reason I'm so sure these were done from reflections in windows is that in this drawing you can actually see some sign-writing on the outside of the glass. Written in reverse - it's meant to be seen from outside - what is visible are the words, "Navrae" and a bit of the English, "Enquiries". I rather like the mood here, with the great coat adding an interesting dimension.

Just to show I wasn't that self-absorbed that evening, this is from the same set of pages. It shows a colleague on guard duty with me that night, reading. I enjoy the hand with watch. Note, too, the beret tucked inside the shoulder strap (I'm sure there's a name for those things!).

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