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I must have painted hundreds of portraits but the person I have used  the most is me. Self analysis? The always available model? I still have my collection of self portraits, my gallery of  Dorian Gray. They date from the immature art student trying to understand her own face,  to many later portraits of the artist in her studio. I observe as a stranger the slow  passage of time. Then later I see this  much  older face. A  stranger with lines and  grey hair. Someone I hardly  recognize.  I place her in an exotic surrounding, with a falcon on her arm. Know thyself? Perhaps I am avoiding just this.

 

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A painting is never a photograph, and  never tries to be one. It is a series of images one placed over the other which is part of the process of creating a painting. A good portrait is more than just a likeness. One sitter told me it was like psychoanalysis, and another said she was nearly unbelieving in what she saw in her own face. For we are no longer seeing ourselves as mirror image. And of course a portrait reveals as much about the subject as it does about the artist. It becomes a meeting of minds.

La Gaditana con Manga Bordada  73 x60cms

 

In the course of painting a portrait, and  usually I need at least four sessions, it is as if various barriers are crossed.Things are felt between artist and sitter which are never said in words. The relationship can become nearly intimate. There is a strange tension between us. We are both. both artist and  model,  searching for the secret which will unlock the door.

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When in retrospect I look again at one of my portraits I see my subject unchanged  from the day it was painted, But  one should always ask oneself the ultimate question, ‘This portrait, is it a good painting?’

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