10 minutes

3 hours

3 hours, detail

8 hours

Well, I didn’t really want to do a self portrait, if you want the truth.  I actually was hoping to find somebody, maybe hire a model, but I’ve been unable to get anybody into my studio to sit for a painting.  I oftentimes read that Rembrandt painted self portraits so that he could delve into his inner psyche and find the spiritual condition of his being at a particular point in life.  I think it’s because, oftentimes, he had no model.

And why the theme of a spackler?  Because I’ve been wanting to paint a construction worker for the longest time.  And, I think that paintings of painters are so utterly boring.  How many times can you look at the same setup- palette in left hand, brushes in right, furrowed brow, deep look in eyes… to me, nine out of ten self portraits seem to be saying “IF YOU ONLY KNEW HOW DEEP I AM.”

D. Jeffrey Mims, Self Portrait

And besides, it’s much cooler to paint forearm muscles straining under the weight of a heavy bucket, weary eyes, hair disheveled… needing a coffee.  “Write what you know” advised the late Frank McCourt.

As well, this painting is probably my manifesto against Bougeureau, and all things classical.  I don’t know why, I am just getting tired of all of the world of contemporary classical painting.  My painting is a parody of one classical sculpture, but I won’t say which.  Bougeureau paints peasants with perfect, peachy pink skin, delicate porcelain hands, and exquisite peasant clothing.  I just want to step into Bougeureau’s paintings and rustle everybody’s hair, throw mud at their clothes, make a fake fart noise.  This lazy shepherdess is getting absolutely nothing done.  If I were a shepherd, I would fire her in an instant, it’s obvious she’s useless.  Imagine her fending off the wolves from the flock.  She belongs on Madison Avenue, sipping a pomegranate martini, checking her iPhone.  Looking at this painting, I understand how Mark Twain wrote of Jane Austen “Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up [from the grave] and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Bougeureau, The Shepherdess

I just want to paint an exhausted worker, covered in spackle dust, wishing he were home.   Tired, yet generally content.  I’m going to be working on this painting for weeks and weeks, I’m sure.  I thought it would be interesting to show the various stages that this painting goes through, before it “arrives.”    And, that’s assuming that the painting is going to arrive, or even that it’s on the right track to begin with.   Look at the photo at three hours- that face is not at all what I intended.  Too much angst, when I wasn’t trying to convey sadness at all, just weariness.  The painting at eight hours is so rife of problems, I’m ashamed to show it.  But, I ran out of hours in the day, and will have to wait til tomorrow to resume painting.

The thing about painting, or about art in general- is that the idea looks crude and awful in the beginning, but you have to plow through to the end.  Probably, the most precious advice I could relay is to never be precious with a work of art- amputate limbs, move eyes, change colors of clothing, etc.  I walk into the studio with fresh eyes, after a coffee, and realize how terribly off my work is.  And then I change it.  If you are sympathetic towards the successful qualities of your work, yet ruthless with your errors or misses, then you can arrive at the manifestation of the gut feeling you had to begin with.  Hopefully.

8 hours, detail


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