Since October of 2008 I have been documenting my body in a series of small paintings. The project started when I found myself here in Brooklyn engaged with a peer group that is, for the most part, 20-25 years younger than I. I have tried to be honest in the work and the project has become as much about refining my practice as it is about the state of the framework. To date there are 22 paintings, each 12”h x 6”w.
Last month I realized I had been avoiding the close examination of my face. It could be strictly vanity, the site where I protect the most illusions; or perhaps I’ve just become so accustomed to evaluating my body that I forgot about the face. So in honor of my 49th birthday, I decided to look at the mug, and paint it, sans cosmetics and soft lighting, as honestly as my skill would allow, Frankly, the past year-and-a-half has not been particularly kind to the visage. The water here is tough and when combined with minor sleep deprivation, no budget for cosmetic luxuries and questionable nutrition, the wear and tear are showing.
Though I miss the youth and beauty of being twenty-five, I wouldn’t want to trade in or relive the experiences I’ve had. I’m one of the lucky ones; these experiences have all been accompanied by true love. I’ve also been given the opportunity to completely reinvent myself in the second half of my life. There is still so much to do. I am fond of a particular quote by Coco Chanel. She said, “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” I think I’m earning it.