Sunday, February 25, 2007


This was my entry for The Archibald Prize. I struggled with painting a more traditional portrait of myself ie: my face. Everything I did just was not capturing what I 'see' in myself. I could have given up but it became a quest.

One day when I was on an early morning walk dressed in gym gear, hat and sunglasses someone I knew called out to me. However, they were behind me. They had recognised me by my long plait hanging down my back. This was not the first time this had happened. In fact, many people do not recognise me from my front when I am walking and I often have to say, 'It's Kathryn' when I say hello! So, this got me thinking about identity. And certainly my hair has been a defining factor in my life.

I started to think about a 'portrait' of myself from my back. However, I wanted to paint something which went beyond physical identity. My inspiration for the heart came one day when I was driving my youngest daughter to one of her many extra-curricular activities. We were alone in the car and miraculously there was silence. I had my thoughts to myself when suddenly my daughter said, 'Mummy, why do you look sad?' I was totally unaware that my thoughts were showing on my face. My daughter's observation was not the first of its kind as over the years all three children have asked similar questions. Each time I have been totally unaware of my face changing with my thoughts. I hasten to add that sometimes my children's queries are about why I look happy too!

This made me think about those people who know me really well. It is not just my facial features which they see. They also see my heart. They identify the subtle nuances which others may not sense.

So, my 'Self Portrait' shows my most defining and affective physical element and my heart.

I painted this image while my children were away over the Christmas holidays. When I had finished it I put it somewhere where I could see it with 'new' eyes each morning. I do this with all my work to make sure I am happy with the painting once I am no longer involved with creating it. When my children came home they all immediately commented on the painting 'of you Mummy.' To them I was instantly recognisable.

Anyway, along with many other artists I did not get shortlisted for the Archibald. Next time!

1 comment:

Audubon Ron said...

This looks just like you. I recognized the heart right off. :)