Portrait Gallery (The Mirror of Self)
The bilateral symmetry of our face has kept us enthralled and thralls to a mystery that can never be unraveled. We look into a mirror and it looks back. The flesh and bone coheres to an identity never to be repeated. So capable of love and to be loved and all the attendant terrors our eyes can drive us to.
Of course we will go on murdering each other with a ferocity that causes the stars to weep. But try homicide when you have truly looked into someone’s eyes. The psychotics with emptied souls can do it, they have fully cast off what they never truly possessed, their humanity. When we look at our face in the mirror we know all faces are us; and we can endure anything, even our own death, even the possibility of our own life.
Everything we can ever be, is locked in the infinite variety of the infinite variety that is infinitely our face. I have always drawn the eyes first, of course they are the mirror of the soul, some cliches are enduringly profound. If I’m lucky and get them right, the speaking lips and the breath of life itself are next. I have drawn faces for four decades and feel each time I start one I’m back at the beginning of my craft. The rule of seven, the golden section, the necessary asymmetry, the primary and secondary shadows and a thousand more practical tricks will not get you to the good luck Rembrandt always hoped for and stated, “A figure must do more than breath --- it must think.”