Sunday, May 15, 2011

a canvas and a handful of brushes

Egon Schiele, self-portrait, 1912
A few weeks ago, I bought a large canvas oil painting at Gee-Dub (my local Goodwill Store).  I actually bought it for the canvas, since the painting was one of those icky mass-produced jobs.  This started a chain reaction of inspiration.  Next, I bravely marched into Dick Blick and picked up seven large tubes of oil paint and a handful of brushes, since my leftover college brushes are far worse for the wear after 25 years of homework projects and household odd jobs.  I'm excited and more than a little frightened.  Will it all come back?  Well, I'm certainly going to give it my best shot.

The idea of a self-portrait is rolling around in my head.  In museums and galleries, self-portraits always reach out and grab me.  There is something both enigmatic and magical about how an artist portrays him/herself. All works of art, but particularly self-portraits, contain an element of autobiography.  They reveal something of their maker's personality and vision, their way of seeing and thinking. Oscar Wilde, on the subject of the portrait in The Picture of Dorian Gray wrote:

"...every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.  The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion.  It is not he who is revealed by the painter, it is rather the painter who, on the colored canvas, reveals himself."

How true when the painter and sitter are one in the same.  Still in the idea stage here, so stay tuned for updates. Don't let me chicken out.

82 comments:

  1. I'm fond of Egon Schiele but hadn't seen this portrait before. Thanks for posting it.

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  2. Go for the self-portrait!
    I have recently seen the Egon Schiele retrospective at the Neue Gallery in New York. Brilliant!

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  3. Can't wait to here how goes! It will be a great journey of self discovery.

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  4. GO FOR IT my friend....I can't wait to see the finished painting :)

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  5. Well, THIS should be good! Can't wait for the Tess
    'introspective.'

    A great idea, scouring g-dub for canvas. They are so expensive ...

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  6. A great idea and I cannot wait to see your work.

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  7. Regular updates please, with photos....

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  8. If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. --Vincent Van Gogh

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  9. You would never chicken out of such a wonderful endeavor Tess....you are brave, talented, and brilliant in my book....by the way the recipe below looks delicious! :-)

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  10. Tess -- how exciting to just jump into creative art -- let the flair begin. -- barbara

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  11. You CAN'T chicken out now that everyone knows!

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  12. You've done the Tell, now you must do the Show!

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  13. Thanks so much for all the wonderful encouragement. Reya, I LOVE the van Gogh quote. I will do this. I will.

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  14. What fun! I can't wait to see what emerges.

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  15. What a stunning quote.

    Oh I can't wait for your self-portrait.

    And it occurs to me that the same is true with writers, that everything we write is autobiographical, the story is merely the occasion, all of it comes through the prism of who we are.

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  16. Angella, absolutely. Yes it's the same with writers, and I'm sure it's the same with most any art form.

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  17. Fabulous idea, Tess. I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labours.

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  18. This idea is simply marvellous! And, I think, brave. I like to be BEHIND the camera and I certainly don't like the idea of being ON the canvas. It takes courage to take that step, especially if the result is to be shared. I look forward to seeing your progress on this project -- and what fun it will be for you to be working with oils and brushes again.
    :-)
    =lennie=

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  19. Thinking of Jan Van Eyck when I think of self-portraiture or Vincent Van Gogh and German Expressionists. Self-portraits tend to be reveal these inner dimensions of the soul of the artist not only mirroring a staid reflection of the artist. The image uncovers to a fine degree that which is an artist's identifying style and unique personage. Very difficult a task of which I find commendable!

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  20. well....get going
    you still "got it" we all know that

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  21. go with the self portrait,,,it will be brilliant, cant wait to see it ;)

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  22. Thanks, David. Gah! The post is back, but Blogger ate all the comments!

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  23. I think I said something about you've done the Tell so now you must do the Show, but I must admit it doesn't sound any cleverer the second time around!

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  24. Yes, the self portrait is a must even if it isn't brilliant...but it probably will be. I figure we shall be gazing in awe within the week.

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  25. I LOVE Schiele! I used to look at his work when I was in art school and loved the hands that he painted. His stuff is very raw yet delicious! Can't wait to see what you do. You are so very talented, I'm sure something wonderful will transpire.

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  26. My previous comment is gone... so will just say!!
    Yes to SELF portrait!

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  27. Teri, that is so amazing you worked in his studio. I am green with envy. So, we were both in art school way back when. Fun.

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  28. You people are so incredibly nice to come back and replace your comments. I love you. x

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  29. have fun with this. when i turned 50 awhile ago now i was driven to paint a self-portrait and have a few others since in different mediums.

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  30. We will hold your feet to the fire. Can't wait to see the results!

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  31. The painting on the canvas is kinda cool...Is it authentic? Not worth keeping? He's certainly a "listed" artist....

    But definitely do the self-portrait. And be sure to share with us...no backing out!

    Oil or acrylic?

    Rick

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  32. Rick, the Schiele self-portrait is just one I happen to like, it's not the icky one on the old canvas I bought at Gee-Dub.

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  33. Willow, be aware that you might enter into another state of mind, nay, another world, once your put brush to canvas. Perhaps you'll be so taken that it might be difficult to put pen to paper.

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  34. "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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  35. Bear, I love that. Posting it to Facebook. Thank you, friend. x

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  36. MLou, yes, please hold my feet to the fire!

    Clementina, I'm ready to take that chance.

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  37. A true inspiration in the works... go for the self portrait!

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  38. You're very welcome Tess! It's very rare for me to make a quote as I find them terribly pretentious,however in this case it was warranted,inspiration makes her own demands doesn't she.

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  39. Schiele is one of those painters whose superb draughtsmanship 'almost' gets in the way of his work. I think I'd have to place him in the 'slick' category.

    Look forward to seeing your SP.

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  40. I forgot to mention that I'm not surprised you like Schiele. Like so many artists, I love his innovation and feel drawn to the marks on the canvas, use of colour and mesmerising power of the image, but not necessarily the baggage that comes with it. Do you know of Stanley Spencer?

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  41. I'm hoping your post will inspire me to finish my self portrait that I started like 7 years ago. I must admit, I put it off because I wasn't able to portray what I wanted, and yet painting the portrait of others comes easy to me... Time to finish it I think and I wish you luck with yours

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  42. Ken, yes, Stanley Spencer is one of my favorites, as well! In fact, I almost posted his self-portrait instead of the Schiele.

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  43. Red Shoe, you must! Let me strike a match under that pinky toe!

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  44. I'm here to say not to chicken out. You've taken the first steps, and I want you to keep walking toward the goal. Excellent!

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  46. go for it :) would love to see your painting

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  47. go for it!!! I am certain you will inspire and amaze us...

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  48. I know you can do this. I look forward to what you do. After all it takes a lifetime....and then some.

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  49. I hope to see the self-portrait here one day. What a fitting quote as well. Have a good weekend.

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  50. love this.
    i did a self portrait.

    great post
    and i feel i am in agreement with you on so many points...
    so often.

    do a self portrait!!
    do it
    and share it. xxx

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  51. Good luck with it! Makes me want to get back to painting -- but not a self portrait -- too scary.

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  52. I think I painted a self-portrait: it's a Great Pyrenees watching over a flock of sheep :-)

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  53. PLEASE don't "chicken out!" Also don't change your mind--or is that "chicken out"? LOL Want to see that self-portrait, especially if you could show us several stages in the process of creation!

    I love everything which is art. Also I love everything which is non-art--although I cannot think of anything like that, at the moment.

    There is even 'art' in cow-dung if you are 'extremely' objective. (Yess, I KNOW 'extremely' and 'objective' do not fit together well--grin!)

    Hey Tess Kincaid...WHATEVER you do is fine with me--I know it would be masterfully done, in your hands.

    One of the prettiest models you would have to work with--IF you could hold her down!!! LOL!

    Bye for now!

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  54. The self portrait is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  55. You are a very brave and talented woman!
    Good luck!

    I have seen this Schiele portrait, I mean the original one. I often walk by the place where he had his last studio.

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  56. tess there are so many decisions around the creative act. the first is deciding to be aware that you need to be available to it. the last is deciding to accept that it won't leave you alone. enjoy this, your latest journey. steven

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  57. Delightful story; it provides so much interesting background.

    Now, show us the picture, please!

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  58. Ohhhhh, I'm squealing with delight! I can't wait to see your portrait.


    I once used Schiele as the inspiration for a school assigned self-portrait. I love the rawness of his work....so emotional. As for my portrait...I wound up looking very depressed. : )

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  59. I'm sure you'll be successful with your self portrait. You are such a creative soul. Looking forward to seeing it, but there's no time pressure:)

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  60. Stevie, I've been looking at this Schiele all week and loving it more each time I see it. I think I'm going to use him as inspiration for mine, as well. (I knew you would be excited!)

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  61. How will we know it is you – having never seen you before?

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  62. Haha, Abe, I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

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  63. I love the idea! You can't chicken out now - the cat (or chicken) is out of the bag.

    Similarly, I've been thinking about doing a series of self-portraits. It's not new - I've done a number of them in expressive arts exercises. I've been thinking of doing them more regularly. Going public with this kind of 'personal art' is another matter altogether. So I understand your trepidation.

    The trepidation probably means it'll be exceedingly rewarding in the end.

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  64. DO NOT CHICKEN OUT. But if you do, can you make it with that recipe from the previous post? Thanks.

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  65. MARCHELINE...Now T H A T is FUNNY! LOL!

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  66. Marcheline and Steve E, heehee, absolutely.

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  67. No, no do NOT chicken out! You've made brilliant self-portraits from photographs and words; imagining what you will do with paint is exciting (and as someone once told me, it's a very forgiving medium. But of course you know that).

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  68. YOU CAN DO IT!! I did not know you painted, but I am not surprised, with your creative talents...

    I have also been toying with such an idea. I actually like the painting you posted...did you look the artist's name up on google? I did. Egon Schiele was an Austrain painter. He was considered a major figurative painter of the 20th century, an early exponent of Expressionism and strong associated with Art Nouveau. His paintings are in the Leopold Museum in Vienna...

    Just sayin'... I WOULD NOT USE THAT CANVAS TO PAINT OVER!!

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  69. Oh wait...(my bad). I read too quickly and realized you used Schiele as a portrait example and the paint over canvas was "one of those icky mass produced jobs".

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  70. Donna, I adore Schiele, and that's why I used his self-portrait as an example. The icky mass-produced canvas was a vile fruity still life!

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  71. Oh God Tess, I thought this portrait was Monday's Magpie. Have to say I hope not --- is that awful?

    Please create a self portrait, it will be great! I did it once in an art class in college. If I can find it I'll put it up, really scare people away :)

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  72. I love the woman curled up mysteriously in one of the leaves! I heard about Egon Schiele when I read The Time Traveller's Wife... good to see his art.. can't wait to see yours x

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  73. Hi! Willow...
    I'am quite sure that your self-portrait will be quite interesting too.
    Being an artist I'am familiar with quite a few famous artist, but I don't think that I'am familiar artist Egon Schiele, yet (with "yet" being the operative word) with that being said, what a beautiful painting and nice self-portrait.

    Willow said,"Next,I bravely marched into Dick Blick and picked up seven large tubes of oil paint and a handful of brushes..."
    I like to do that too!

    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;-)

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  74. How exciting- that news just gets my blood racing and my hands itching- in a good way! Egon one of my all time favorites especially the drawings of young girls- Can't wait for you to get something on canvas- it will be so great!

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  75. I too am very intrigued by self-portraits! I say go for it!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

    Come and enter my New Giveaway from Serena & Lily! You will love it!

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  76. Bravo, Willow!
    Perhaps I'm not able to write when I am painting, but nothing relaxes my mind (and soul) more. And when I am finished, I can go back to writing a little story with fresh eyes.
    (Note: I never show my paintings on my blog. They reveal me about me than my writing ever will. It hits too close to the bone.)

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  77. go for it! Even though I paint figures, i rarely paint self-portraits. Something about them is a bit frightening to me, so I admire your bravery. (P.S. ~ don't forget to post the painting on your blog!)

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  78. This is exciting! I am here to cheer you on for sure!

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  79. Thanks, everybody. Your encouragement means so much. You all know now, so I am committed. I'll keep you updated, for sure.

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  80. Ha - I started drawing again and have been aching to paint. Have fun!!!

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)