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Honesty

October 23, 2015

 

As an artist who likes portraying people, I’m always on the lookout for subjects willing to sit for me. I’ve been told that having an artist stare at you for hours over several days is unsettling. Picasso required Gertrude Stein to endure sixty sessions for her portrait.

           

Arranging sittings is a difficult task, so over the years I’ve done what many painters have done—I’ve served as my own model and painted numerous self-portraits. Many people think excessive self-portraits, such as those painted by Rembrandt, reveal narcissism, but I know this not to be true. Most artists I know would rather paint someone else if provided the opportunity. I’ve completed nearly twenty self-portraits over the years, but this one of me in my bathrobe holds special significance because of an exchange it provided with CJ, my six year old son.

           

When this was painted, we lived in a house with a loft I’d converted into a studio. I often worked evenings and painted during the day. When CJ came home from school he’d climb the stairs to see what I was working on. I valued his opinion because at the age of six he didn’t understand diplomacy and never modified his thoughts to spare my feelings, saying whatever sprang to mind.

           

When he was in the first grade, he climbed the stairs to see what I was working on. He studied my self-portrait, and I could see that something bothered him. “What do you think?” I asked.

           

He cocked his head and frowned. “It isn’t quite right, is it Daddy?”

           

“It isn’t? What doesn’t look right?”

           

“It’s the eyes. You didn’t paint those poochie things under your eyes.”

           

I studied my work and realized he was right. I hadn’t painted the poochie bags under my eyes. I picked up a brush, mixed some poochie color and brushed it beneath my eyes.

           

He smiled. “Now it looks right,” he said, smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

 Note: Yesterday was Mrs. Chatterbox’s birthday. She’s been my soul mate since we met forty-five years ago and I can’t imagine my life without her.

 

            Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

26 Comments
That should be your nickname..."pooch bags". LOL! And please pass along my birthday good wishes to your mate. :)
By: Scott Park on October 23, 2015
Happy birthday to your wife! And awesome you've been together so long. Trust a kid to give an honest opinion. And that is a great painting of you.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 23, 2015
Kids are brutally honest without being mean. My great nephew Jorsan spends a lot of time here and if he likes something I'm working on he says so, but like your son, if something isn't right, he lets me know. R I hope the little lady had a great birthday.
By: Rick Watson on October 23, 2015
Out of the mouths of babe ... well, if you ask me, you were a handsome young chap. Honestly!
By: Tom Sightings on October 23, 2015
I love that self-portrait. Poochy eyes and all! And wishing Mrs. C a very happy birthday. Knowing her through your stories, I'm in love, too!
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 23, 2015
I think that portrait resembles a young Ernest Hemingway. Maybe you should grow a beard now.
By: Catalyst on October 23, 2015
A handsome young man, poochy eyes and all. Happy Birthday to the other Mrs. C.
By: cranky on October 23, 2015
love the honesty. like a breath of fresh air. :) happy birthday to your lovely mrs!
By: TexWisGirl on October 23, 2015
Happy Birthday Mrs. Chatterbox! Love the portrait!
By: The Bug on October 23, 2015
Belated Happy Birthday to the Mrs. Kids really don't have filters do they so we get the truth. Didn't see the version with out pooches but your are looking good with them. Cute post.
By: Akansas Patti on October 23, 2015
Ha ha, kids, they say it like it is don't they? I have those poochie things under my eyes too. I can't believe you have nearly 20 self portraits! Now that's what I call a lot of selfies!
By: LL Cool Joe on October 23, 2015
Happy Birthday to Mrs. C! I don't recommend that you paint her portrait with poochie eyes as her gift.
By: Val on October 23, 2015
kids are great with their forthright hones opinions. Happy Happy Birthday to Mrs C!
By: Kathe W. on October 23, 2015
Candor is always a good thing and kids can lead us on that, often. That is a nice portrait. CJ will no doubt appreciate having the versions done over the years by his dad. And a Happy Birthday to Mrs. C. Your tribute is sweet.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 23, 2015
Happy birthday to Mrs C. Kids are brutally honest and have much more going on in their heads than we give them credit for.
By: red on October 23, 2015
Many happy returns of the day to Mrs. Chatterbox! That is a great picture.
By: messymimi on October 23, 2015
The poochie things. Too funny. They are brutally honest at that age. Happy belated birthday to Mrs. C. Take care and have a good weekend.
By: Mr. Shife on October 23, 2015
Happy Birthday to the wonderful Mrs. C!!! Your son was so funny and so right. I love the self-portrait, and especially the poochie things! :)
By: Lexa Cain on October 23, 2015
Out of the mouth of babes:) Maybe, without realizing it, you were trying to paint a more "pleasant "look meaning without the pooches. We get to a certain age and we all have pooches plus unless we look like Hollywood freaks. I think this is a great self portrait and you do have quite the talent. Congrats on such a great marriage! So very nice to hear
By: Birgit on October 23, 2015
You look marvelous, poochie bags and all! Belated birthday wishes to your wonderful wife.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 24, 2015
Wishing your wife a belated happy birthday, Poochie!!
By: fishducky on October 24, 2015
Is it because of a great prejudice against photography that many pure portrait painters (albeit in their own minds) still refuse to use photos instead of live sittings--especially with the great advances in high definition technology?
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 24, 2015
I love your painting! Happy birthday to Mrs. Chatterbox.
By: Pixel Peeper on October 24, 2015
Your son had a good eye for detail. Does he have his own poochie things under his eyes yet? :) Happy Birthday, belated, to your lovely wife!
By: jenny_o on October 24, 2015
A great post and a great portrait! I hope Mrs C had a great day!
By: John on October 26, 2015
You have to love kids minds. That's a priceless story. Great portrait too. Happy Birthday Mrs. C!
By: Bouncin Barb on October 28, 2015

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