Friday, February 15, 2008


Ten Times Six

Oil on canvas, 14" x 11"
NFS

I'm sorry, did I scare you?

I'm really not as mean as I look. It's just that today's my birthday--the big Six-Oh--and I'm finding it hard to muster up a grin. I should have done more self-portraits back when I was prettier. Actually, when I think of the few early portraits I did do, I looked awfully stern in those too, in a thick brown hair wrinkle-free sort of way.

The somber self-portrait is a pretty solid artist tradition. It must come from staring in a mirror for hours--nobody can smile for that long! Comes also from being focused and deep in concentration. And this is the result--my painting face! Pretty scary alright.

37 comments:

Suzanne said...

It's a look of absorbed concentration, dear. Yikes - Just think of what Chuck Close would do to you!

You look fine. In fact, good and fit for sixty (in a Rembrandtish sort of way). Anyhow, who makes pretty self-portraits of themselves. (Jeff Koons?)

We're all too bent by our sick culture of airbrushed surfaces and reupholstered body parts. You know, of course, it's what's inside that counts and man, you have exceptional talent, a wonderful family, a good spot on earth and food on the table. Celebrate! You look great! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

And thanks for posting this self-portrait!

m collier said...

What is 60 but a number – but with it brings wisdom, patience, understanding and all the things that we think we are when we are young, but aren’t!!!! My look wonderful!!!!

Bill Sharp said...

Happy Birthday, Don. 60 is the new 40, btw.

I've done many self portraits over the years and they all have that grim look. I try to do one every year around my birthday (55 is coming up in a few weeks).

I enjoy your work very much.

billbrauk said...

Happy birthday,Don!

You've done a great job with this. Full of real life, so much more than a glossy photo would be.

I am envious of your great talent.

I will be 60 on August 2, may have to try a self portrait myself.

silvina said...

Happy Birthday handsome!!! Very nice to see your non-scary face.
Excellent self portrait. Very interesting arrangement. Is that a ceiling lamp behind you?

Don Gray said...

Chuck Close, oh my!! You're right, Suzanne, things could be worse. At least not early Chuck Close. One of his more recent lozenge-filled portraits might not be so bad, since they eliminate a lot of wrinkly detail.

Of course you're right, I'm blessed by the things that really matter: good health, a wonderful wife of 38 years, three great kids, beautiful grandkids, the opportunity to do what I love to do...the list goes on and on.

Thanks, Suzanne, for reminding me!

Don Gray said...

Bless you, M! I'm not sure about the wisdom part in my case, but hey, I'll take it!

Don Gray said...

So 60's the new 40, eh Bill? Sounds trendy. Glad to know I'm still on the cutting edge of fashion!

Thanks a lot for coming by.

Don Gray said...

Billbrauk, thanks for the kind comments and birthday wishes. Go ahead and do that portrait at 60. (One suggestion: work from a photo, so you can keep smiling :)

Don Gray said...

Hi Silvina--thanks for the undeserved but happily received compliment! In the case of this face, "pillage," not "pileage" is the apt metaphor (inside joke.)

Yes, it's an old light fixture in the little room I commandeered for a studio.

I should have mentioned in the post that (I think) this painting is still a work in progress. I decided to post it at this stage on my birthday. Guess we're all works in progress in some form or another, aren't we?

silvina said...

ha ha ha! pillage as in ravage. The ravages of time. I'm beginning to see signs on my own face.

If you do work on this portrait more, I hope you post it again. btw, like the snappy red t-shirt.

Frank Gardner said...

Well, Happy Birthday to you Don! Here's to you.
I was thinking Rembrandt too.
If it is a WIP maybe you would accept a small suggestion. The shadow side of your mouth and cheek kind of slides down with a lot of similarly slanted strokes. One or two nicely placed horizontals there would counter that a bit. Then I would call it done.
It's good to SEE you.

Joan DaGradi said...

Happy birthday, Don.
Wishing you many, many more. Ya know, there are very few child prodigies in painting; seems we need the time to mellow, learn, and practice.
Hopper and Homer are two of the artists I love who just got better with age. Congrats, you look great!

Don Gray said...

Thanks, Silvina. In reality, the shirt is a paint-spattered olive green. Thought it needed the note of color. I'll probably post a revised version after I do more work on the painting.

Don Gray said...

Actually, Frank, my whole face is sliding down that way--it's called gravity!

Thanks for the fresh eye, though--I'll steel myself for a closer look in the mirror.

Frank Gardner said...

ha ha, I should not have said anything Don. I looked closer and it seems fine to me. I was thinking brush stroke direction not lines in the face direction. My face would have been crying from frustration by this point. I am not great at self portraits.

Don Gray said...

Joan--thank you for the well-wishes and encouragement. Interesting, I was thinking of that Hopper self-portrait with the hat while painting my own. He has such an earnestly pleasant expression in that painting. The longer you look, the more forced it appears--you can see his struggle to maintain that smile. (Not really a critique of Hopper--I love his work. And that struggle even lends an edgy power to the portrait.)

Alvin Richard said...

Happy 60th Don! I think that you look rather suave and distinguished. Well done. I like the ceiling light, very artsy & atmospherique.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Don! So glad to get your post. The portrait introduces me to a more mature, and still handsome, version of the Don we knew at GW. Steve, Joanne and I are hoping for a local visit. Let us know if we'll be lucky enough to see you and Brenda soon. Ann La

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Don! Mature faces have beauty and character thst only age and a well lived life can give. I'll do a self portrate in2009 when I'm 70 years old. You're lookin good!...Dixie

Laura Marie Anderson said...

Happy Birthday.

All great self portraits done from life have that wonderful concentrated look about them. You look great for sixty!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Dad! Just wanted to Re-iterate a previous comment... 60is the new 40!! You look fab!

Love,

Melissa :)

n warner said...

Don-

Good things come with age - you have wonderful talent and the portrait reveals this. Happy Birthday!!! May
you enjoy many more..... best, Nina

Don Gray said...

So if I reach 80 I'll only be the age I am now. Great!

Thanks, Melissa.

Love,
your 40 year old father!

Don Gray said...

Hi Alvin. I look suave and distinguished? How do you do such beautiful detailed paintings when your eyesight is so poor? Kidding, of course--many thanks for your kind words.

Don Gray said...

Ann, so good of you to drop a note and thanks for that wonderful to hear comment! Brenda and I both are looking forward to a reunion visit--very soon, I hope.

Don Gray said...

Nina, you're so kind--thank you for the well wishes.

Susan Beauchemin said...

Very nice! I love to see self portraits. Thanks---------Susan

Don Gray said...

Susan, glad you stopped by. I think your self-portrait on your blog is remarkable.

Don Gray said...

Laura Marie, you made my day!

Lori McNamara said...

Happy Birthday! Its a super self portrait, they are tough to do. It makes me want to try a more traditional one with the Rembrandt background.

Don Gray said...

Thanks, Lori. What was it about yesterday and self portraits? I see you posted one on your blog and so did Jason Waskey. Congratulations on your 500th post--wow!

Jason Waskey said...

Ha! It *is* self portrait week!

And a fine picture it is, to be sure.

Happy Birthday Don!

Deborah Paris said...

Happy Birthday, Don! And thanks for sharing that wonderful self portrait.

Don Gray said...

Jason and Deborah, thanks to you both!

Takeyce said...

Happy Birthday, Don!!! 60 looks good on you.

Don Gray said...

Hi Takeyce, and thanks. You can comment anytime you want :)