Self-portrait underwater with an X-ray
“Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” – Pablo Picasso
It seems to me that all artists should try a self-portrait at least once. Some – like Rembrandt and Francis Bacon, many, many times. There are certain advantages, you can, for example insult your subject without offending anyone, distort, be truthful, and lie about them without fear of recourse. Of course the model is always available and doesn’t complain about how long you are taking – always an advantage. On the other hand to look with an artist’s honest eye at yourself, explore your own soul, possibly find things you don’t like, even magnify them and flaunt them, can be confronting. Here you are, showing the world how you see yourself, opening gates to the scorn of the hoi polloi. But – you can still throw it away at the end if you don’t like it. Speaking of which, the advice I received from an artist I admire was to publish and be damned. People must realise that artists do a lot of work and not all of it is high quality, the audience must see the bad with the good. And I agree with that, provided the quality of the work still reaches a certain standard, which is hard to define.
What is my experience so far? I find a unique psychological understanding that occurs when I look into my own eyes. The process is one of self discovery and realisation. It is introspective, particularly since you try to show your subject in a way that no-one has ever seen them before. I have the impression that I’ve not done my best work here, but it is a stepping stone.
I invite people to comment on this with their experience, or even to tell me what they think of the image. Where should I go from here?
I have missed out a couple of posts but the artwork is incomplete and I want to work on them a little more.
Here is my latest, it was inspired by a gallery in town that was asking artists to submit images with the title Black and White. I started working on it but somehow time got away with me, and anyway colour crept into the image.
The background consists of reflections of the sun on a sheet of X-ray film that we had been using to shield our eyes when looking at the 2012 eclipse. They fell on a sheet of paper producing beautiful waves of the sea patterns. The overlying X-ray image came from a premature baby boy with premature lung – hyaline membrane disease. This is caused by a lack of surfactant in the air spaces of the lung which, when in the womb, are filled with amniotic fluid in which the baby floats. From the sea we come, thence we long to return.
I love the feeling of a simple Japanese woodblock print imparted by this image. The inner frame has the impression of looking out through a secure window onto the sea through a fancy grille; security bars turned art-form. The linearity itself assumes the shape of a sea-creature, a crab perhaps, whilst retaining the familiar outlines of the natant chest X-ray.
Chest 37; Eclipse Wave
Alison Macdonald “Inner Journeys”
Alison MacDonald http://www.alisonmcdonald.com.au/ is a Queensland Artist interested in Eco-art, recycling plastics. Humans have long had a love affair with plastic, believing it to be the answer to our eco-prayers. Her artworks reuse plastic materials in an attempt to raise questions about the relationship we have with plastic, and about its supposed sustainability. Her artwork “Inner Journey” using recycled X-ray film is a subtly translucent mobile structure like a sea-life form with an inner geometric pattern. Close examination reveals anatomical structures and print in an unexpected way.