Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about all the faces she makes while painting faces and other things.

The Seemel twins

2010 . 03 . 29 - Comments / Commentaires (0)

My brother and I are not twins, but, ever since we’ve been old enough to make the three years between us less conspicuous, people have assumed that we are. 



child's birthday

photo by my mother

Maybe it has something to do with us both being June-birthday Geminis.



child's birthday

photo by my mother

For much of our childhood, our birthdays were spent at our grandparents’ house in France. 



Kristan Seemel

photos by my mother

It’s funny to see the years blend together in this way: same place, same cake, same moment.



Kristan Seemel

My mother was always one to document the experience, especially the wishing…



Kristan Seemel

...and the blowing out of the candles.  In recent years, I’ve taken on the job of taking the pictures.



Kristan Seemel

At Kristan’s last birthday, I took even more photos than usual.  I had ideas for what I wanted to do for his portrait for Subjective, but nothing was settled yet.  His birthday seemed like the perfect time to catch a portrait moment. 



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

Though I toyed with painting him making his birthday wish, I settled on this composition instead.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

My brother was trying to re-light one of the candles by encouraging the flame travel through the smoke—something he insisted that a flame could do.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

It’s silly, but something about him trying that had a poetry to me.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

I had been thinking about how my relationship with my brother is similar to my mother’s relationship with her brother…



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

...and the way that patterns repeat between generations reminded me of the flame following the smoke to the wick.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

It’s for that reason that I made the portrait-within-a-portrait of our uncle.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

“Small gods” is a reference to something my brother said to me when we were teenagers. 



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

He was reading Terry Pratchett’s novel by that name and I was reading a book with a less inspiring title—something like “going nowhere.”



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

Kristan joked that the books we read say a lot about us.  (Of course.)



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

It was a silly sibling moment…



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

...but it has become an exchange that, for no particular reason, I assign a lot of meaning to.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

It’s one of the stories I tell myself about who my brother is to me, although I can’t actually begin to unravel why that is.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

As with a lot of things in this painting, I ended up letting “small gods” fade into the layers.



step by step process of painting a portrait in acrylic

I chose instead to flesh out the portrait of our uncle.



Gwenn Seemel's portrait of her brother Kristan Seemel

Gwenn Seemel
Brother
2009
acrylic on canvas
36 x 36 inches



detail image of Gwenn Seemel's portrait of her brother Kristan Seemel

detail image of Brother

The portrait-within-a-portrait is also a nod to our twin-ness.  I painted an image of my brother’s shirt to echo the image on my own shirt in my self-portrait for this series.



detail image of Gwenn Seemel's portrait of her brother Kristan Seemel

detail image of Brother

To catch Subjective in Corvallis, visit the Arts Center by 31 March.  It’s open Tuesday and Wednesday this week between 12:00 and 5:00 PM.

The Arts Center
700 SW Madison
Corvallis, OR 97333
541.754.1551


RELATED ARTICLES:
- Partner
- Portrait of the artist’s father
- Mother


CATEGORIES: - Process images - Subjective -



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