It’s hard to make a self portrait.
I’ve been trying, this week, because a door to a new strand of professional work and accreditation keeps opening and I keep peering through it, thinking: Hmm yes, it looks great in there. It looks full of meaning. It looks like just the thing I should be doing, alongside all the other things I am doing (which is some days, nothing more than making tea or a mess).
Anyway, this strand of work requires a portfolio that explores a sense of self. OK! I thought, the other day. Better get cracking.
Now, this isn’t difficult, because a) it’s wot I do, innit and b) I know myself fairly well already, for good or ill (mostly ill, to be fair, but thanks for being my friend anyway), and c) when the model is yourself, you never get stood up.
Q: So the stage is set for success, no?
A: Not exactly.
Why, Trudi? I hear you say. Well, have you ever tried drawing your SELF?*
Let’s start with this one, exhibit A - an iPad drawing.
I like it a lot. I see myself in it, weird as that seems. I drew it listening to The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel, on repeat, so that’s why the dude is wearing a strongman’s style vest, which I’m telling you, is my fashion prediction for Spring/Summer 2020. I’m rarely wrong about these things; strength is the new black.
A verse from The Boxer goes like this:
‘In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains’
Yup. Me. And there’s that sadness, in the eyes. And my picture is blurry because a person is in constant movement, and evolution, or at least a person ought to be. I don’t like to stand still, physically or mentally.
Next up, exhibit B - ink on paper:
Bad stuff happens. In this world, there are wolves with sharp teeth, waiting. I’d love to be disabused of this reality, but sadly, it stands as fact. The opposite is also true, of course - if you look for the helpers, they’re there. You know who you are, and I thank you heartily and send long hugs and love to you. Thank you for ministering to my recent nightmares.
Exhibit C - ink, paper, procreate app:
Now, this one I love, because it’s not a success (although, that hand). I didn’t like this one at all. But then at the end, for no reason really, I dripped that drip of blackest ink purposefully right down through the face and stopped it, with all the skill King Canute couldn’t muster. And then I said to myself, if you liked it you should’ve put a drip on it, and started giggling.
Which I suppose speaks to my ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ sense of humour.
Finally, exhibit D - ink, paper, bleedproof white medium and procreate app (shall I try to get any more technical terms in this sentence for you?):
I saved my favourite one until last. All those stars, for one thing, which of course I painted individually, like the insane loon I am, turning the paper round and round and round as I went, to get a feeling of starlings wheeling in the sky. A murmuration of stars seemed fitting, somehow. There’s just something very sexy here, under such an intense constellation. I like that I gave myself a tattoo. The expression feels like me; the gaze direct and a little bit watchful.
Je suis la.
*In this age of social media, I would wager that if more people tried getting in touch with their actual self, by any creative means possible, and not just constantly fall back on the glamourised version of themselves that they’re careful to present to other people, we’d all be a bit better off. It’s a petrifying prospect - yes, I know. You have to face up to the fact that you fall short of your own mark, in many ways. That’s why we don’t want to do it!
And why it’s vital.