Blog / 2024 / Self Versus Self

February 19, 2024

[video transcript]

I’ve written about people telling me I think too much and this painting is about all the ways I hate being measured by society. If you’re interested in learning about the psychology of self-portraits in general, I made a video about it a few years ago.

Gwenn Seemel self-portrait painting in a painterly dynamic style
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on panel
7 x 5 inches

I just finished this self-portrait. It’s small, 7 by 5 inches. But it’s mighty, in the sense that the image has a confidence to it. It’s the first self-portrait I’ve made in years, and it’s meant as a response to this painting, which is quite a bit larger, 4 by 3 feet, and which I created in 2004 as a way to help remind me of the self—the part of me—that feels centered and able to handle the world.

At the time when I painted it, I was just starting out as an artist, and I was still using a film camera. I was always taking photos of myself to finish off a roll of film so that I could send it in to be developed, and that’s probably where the reference photo for the painting comes from.

In 2024, the process is a little different. When I decided I wanted to make a self-portrait, I started by shooting video of myself, and then playing it back and taking screenshots of moments that interest me. From those screenshots, I chose one that I liked—one that made me think of the 2004 portrait—and I went from there.

So the start of the portrait is different, but the goal is basically the same.

In my journal entries from 2004, around the time when I made the first painting, I was struggling with the people in my life being out-of-touch with their emotions—at least from my perspective. I was frustrated with them for only going halfway with everything. They were making half-efforts and they seemed to speak in half-truths.

I described the 2004 portrait as a kind of self-soothing. I wrote in my diary:

“It’s heroic in all its imperfections, and, actually, the face without the gaze has a certain whimsy to it, but those eyes. They are mine. I know that...and they are mine on what I consider my good days: when I feel ready to be rejected.”

Those words are from 2004, but they ring true in 2024. I’ve never stopped feeling like the people in my life think I’m too much. I want to be okay with it, and, in the last twenty years, I’ve definitely gotten more okay with it, even if I’m not all the way there yet. Maybe the 2024 self-portrait will help me in getting that last little bit to all the way okay.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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