I knew it was coming. I could feel it. Still, I tried to be optimistic. We were behind schedule this semester–maybe we would run out of time. But yesterday, the dreaded assignment was announced: Self-Portrait. I doubled over in pain like I had been hit by a truck while trying to cross a busy street. When I finally straightened up and clawed my way back to the curb, I got hit again as my instructor announced there would be not one, but two self-portraits due next week.
Why do I loathe this assignment so? First, my self-portraits never really look like me. They always come out looking like a generic version of someone who slightly resembles me. Second, the self-portrait demands careful scrutiny of my aging face. I am forced to study and record every wrinkle, age spot, and imperfection that I try so hard to disguise each morning as I sit in front of my make-up mirror.
The younger generation doesn’t seem to mind the self-portrait. They still have flawless, taut skin that is just beginning to tell its story. My face is an epic novel, telling of love and loss, missed opportunities, blistering summers on the beach, and parenthood. There are hundreds of subplots that weave in and out leaving seams around my eyes. My face tells the ongoing story of my life. It’s all there–the good, the bad, the exhilarating successes and devastating failures. The lines on my face are born from both the happy times and the sad. So today I will pull out my mirror and work on the cover art for my novel. And while it will hint at the stories inside, no one will ever fully understand the countless pages of my life. It’s a good read. I’m only half way through and I just can’t seem to put it down.
“True Colors”– a self-portrait in progress–oil pastels and watercolor on Arches Aquarelle