Darkness Darkness (A4 ink and coloured pencil 2016)
Darkness, darkness, be my pillow
Take my head and let me sleep
In the coolness of your shadow
In the silence of your deep
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket
Cover me with the endless night
Take away, take away the pain of knowing
Fill the emptiness of right now
A song written by Jesse Colin Young for the Youngbloods and recorded by numerous others. The illustration was inspired by Chris Ware’s comic strip diaries, as seen in Danny Gregory’s intriguing book An Illustrated Life.
There seems to be a great deal of darkness in the world at the moment. We mustn’t let it defeat us.
Self Portrait July 2016 (12 cms x 12 cms ink 2016)
Sometimes, while trying on something in a clothing shop, I’ll catch sight of a middle-aged, grey-haired man in the mirror and wonder, for a split second, who he is and why he can’t find his own changing room. Then I realise that he’s me and I am, unfortunately, no longer 35. Or anywhere close to 35.
This probably explains why my attempts at self-portraits always turn out so odd. Sometimes I look like a young actor appearing as an old man in a theatre company that can’t afford a decent make-up artist. I once did one that looked like Bill Murray in a wind-tunnel, another where I looked like an unconvincing Elvis impersonator…
Last night I thought I’d have another go – today being Selfie Art Day – starting with a faint pencil outline to be sure that my head was the right shape and my ears in the right place, and then drawing in ink until it looked about right. If I did something wrong I’d simply go over it until it looked better. The end result, I thought, might suggest one of those Giacometti sketches that almost obliterate the subject.
Yesterday was a challenging day and I didn’t get very far with it. However, looking at the picture again this morning there was something about the eyes that captured yesterday’s emotional temperature. Although I’d remain a free man for years if this was ever used as a police identikit picture, I submit it for Selfie Art Day with only a slightly guilty conscience. The expression in the eyes is pretty accurate and the eyes are, we’re told, the key to any portrait.
An extra post this week because today is #SelfieArtDay, curated and conducted by Teresa Robeson over at One Good Thing.
Whether or not you think this is a good thing, it is more or less how I see myself at the moment: a little tired, maybe, but amused and baffled by life’s twists and turns, and interested in more things than I can keep up with. When my partner, Sarah, saw this she asked, “Why do you draw yourself like that?” which was perhaps her kind and generous way of implying it wasn’t such a good likeness. However, it has enough similarities for me to post it as a self-portrait on this month’s #SelfieArtDay.
Some time ago I went to a dinner party where one of the guests was a PR person who, for most of the evening, completely ignored me. I’ve never worked in PR but I would have thought that the job required an interest in and curiosity about other people: on a purely mercenary level you might meet someone who could become a client. On the drive home I pointed this fact out to my partner and added, “For all he knew I could have been the King of Bavaria.”
So here I am in ermine and crown, a little older-looking and a little plumper than in reality (I hope) from all the cares of ruling an ancient kingdom that stretches from Passau to Wurzburg and the many glasses of Weizenbier I’d be expected to share with my adoring subjects. Keeping Bavaria up to snuff takes its toll, I can tell you.