Self Portrait for Veterans Day

Work in progress, self portrait painting for November Veteran's day show, 20 x 20

Work in progress, self portrait painting for November Veteran’s day show, 20 x 20″ oil on canvas

Last week I posted about my latest inspiration in this post. I worked on a couple of self portrait sketches last week and decided that I would, in fact, change the painting I’m working on for the Veteran’s Day show, into a self portrait. My second sketch came out much more satisfactory than the first.

Second self portrait sketch, good to go!

Second self portrait sketch, good to go!

It has literally been over a decade since I painted a portrait in oils or drawn in pencil for that matter. I stopped because painting portrait commissions was very stressful. Getting a likeness is one thing, but it’s impossible to make a portrait that matches what someone “thinks” they look like. Though I stopped taking portrait commissions, I have always enjoyed painting portraits. Self portraits are not as stressful for obvious reasons. I KNOW what I look like and what I “think” I look like, and there is absolutely no pressure there.

Today, I blocked out the silhouette in the foreground of my latest spiral abstract painting. The background will continue on as intended. The idea behind this self portrait is specifically about my time as a soldier in the US Army and how it changed my perception from childhood to adulthood. My once eager, patriotic mind was twisted and turned more cynical once my time was served. I became an advocate for peace and love, after being sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier and after seeing families torn apart because of war. I became even more peace minded after seeing my son’s generation of soldiers come home in pieces, physically and mentally, after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The spirals of red, blue and yellow surrounded by stars and eventually, stripes, is a representation of the flag after the twisting and turning. I use yellow instead of white to represent the staining of young hearts, forever changed by war. These torn souls will never know the innocence of childhood again. It’s not my usual happy go lucky inspiration, but it’s real. It’s my truth.

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