Some times our mind plays tricks with our deeper consciousness.
For no reason at all it goes crazy. Constantly changes its moods as if you have absolutely no hold on it. For example one day suddenly out of the blue it ordered me to make self portrait…the urge was so much, that, there was a smile on my face. Really it is something which had never flashed me so far, even after reading and viewing critically at Michel Angelo, Vincent Van go or Leonardovinchi and other famous artists of recent centuries and their famous portraits…But now all of a sudden after many years I don’t know where this hell of an idea was hiding in my consciousness. But now it is demanding to paint one of myself... Or is it a way of my inner consciousness craving to analyse my own real self? I really don’t know. But certainly it is uncontrollable urge.
Strange! I am not an artist by profession. Only it is my hobby to imitate the work which I like. It may be even simple cartoon drawings or sketches or water or oil colour paintings. Of course, sometimes I do play with colours with drawing and painting abstract things and appreciating my own creation. If I try with my testing patience I may be successful in copying something. That is all about my artistic talent. But this urge of drawing and painting my own bust is real challenge.It needs two difficult tasks to be taken care of.
It requires lot of patience. Hours of concentration to draw the sketch and use different medium and symbolic colours to bring out the real ME in it, is very difficult to achieve.Secondly a real challenge of a sort is of impartial self analysis. We always tend to glorify ourselves or condemn exuberantly (sometimes it is way of self pity in a different form). So the authenticity can always be questioned. Even I may be frightened to look at myself quiet naked honestly… not physically!! But analytically it is quite an effort to bring out real self in my work of any kind of expression.But the inner drive is so effective that I could not resist myself deciding to give a go at my idea of making my own self portrait.
I grabbed the pencil, char coal, pallet water colour from my drawer which were, for long got dusted in their place without any kind of disturbance from anybody. A hand made drawing sheet is spread on the table itself. No drawing stand or canvas. I am an artist by default!!
I held the pencil lightly between my thumb and the opposite index finger and started to draw the outline, occasionally using the rubber and charcoal lead to blacken wherever it was required.But I had never thought about the shape of my face seriously. Is it round or square with high cheek bones? Or is it long and bony? But none of this suits my face. It is a terrible combination of all the five major races of the world... the Congo-id, Mongoloid, Caucasoid, Negroid, and Austroloid. So it is tricky to generalize the thick lips or broad nose or Aryan face or straight hair. My eyes especially located deep in the bony socket with flickering eye lids and bushy eye brows are very small for the size of my face. In fact people say I am an elephant eyed monster!
Whatever it is, it is my face and my personality that I have to draw and paint with.I looked at the mirror to study the contours of my face closely. I think it is too ugly of everything from a much closed angle. The wrinkles becomes so conspicuous that it looks as if a drought hit barren land surface for a long time. Even the unwanted ugly hair is visible in the nostril and on the sides of the ear lobes. Even the microscopic highly branched capillaries (It reminds me often the lightening in the tropical region) that supplies blood to the eyes are clear like a bird’s view of an entire river belt form an air craft. The reflection is also not reliable as it is a mirror image. I looked at one of my photos to have an artistic analytical introspection look of my self.
O.K... One by one the short fore head with too many wrinkles and the scar left from a deep wound long long ago during a religious function where we went for swimming before serving the food in the temple. After diving and while surfacing back on the water, I was hit by a stone step and the bleeding was so much the entire well looked like a pool of blood, when my sister tore her newly worn sare and bandaged my forehead. I touched my forehead deep scar affectionately with my sweet memory. The too thick eye brow wildly grown, the blunt nose between the two brows with its large nostrils and below that the area which had seen long back….all most three decades I think… I have never shaved my face completely. Even now I am with the beard and mustache. But one thing I remember that below the nostril on the left side above the upper lips there is a deep scar made by a blade accidentally. It is strange! Ever imagined memories started thronging back like waves that constantly hit the shore. I was perplexed!!! Instead of starting the outline I just recollect the past vividly. The white drawing sheet is blankly staring at me…!!! My face unfinished!
So the pencil moved smoothly from fore head to brows, between the lines of the upper part of the nose, below the nostrils and stopped. Back with the pencil to the eye lids the eye ball… and the eye itself is hiding behind a spectacle which I have been wearing for a long time. So I thought I should give all that experience of long lived life an expression behind the lens without hiding or making only the spectacle very prominent. The cheek half covered with the wild grey beard, the chin almost triangular in shape and grey is irregularly scattered with a large deep pit (dimple!) in the center of the chin. Almost the outline of the face is almost over. Yet I failed to show the ear lobe (pinna) which in itself a strange as there was no demarcation line between the back of the jaws and the ear which is normally found in all other human beings. Now the back of the head, it is not possible to clearly define every minute aspect clearly as it is not three dimensional arts. The forehead is half covered with long untrimmed and carelessly kept hairs. The paradox of life is that sometimes it is combinations of untold contradictions. For example suppose I assume that I am a Caucasoid race, I should have sharp features. But my lips are thick like Negroids but hairs are straight and smooth like mongoloids and face is square and bony like Caucasoid. So it is a genetically an aberration.
Whatever may be the case, my job is to express myself completely as I am. No exaggeration of any of my physical aspects or behavioral aspects. Though I was not very handsome in a real sense, but neither I was ugly. I always thought I had lot of things to say I am handsome and intelligent. For instance, my height, broad soldier, my erect posture, sober but small eyes with full of kindness and love, blunt nose of devotion, long hair of freedom, spectacles eyes an intellect, expressive lips. All these should be enough to give that I am compassionate, honest, noble soul. Only problem is that can I bring all my virtues to life through my talent and do justice to my personality in my portrait??? Yes I can…and I will and should.
No question of improving figure by changing the lines and angles. I may make my own portrait more attractive and vibrant with my brush and colours. But in doing so, I am projecting the personality of some one who is not me! That is nonsense! Moreover the expression should be natural and more realistic. I need not impress anybody. I don’t want to fool anybody. I am what I am. That is all. And that is the ultimate truth. So let me draw and colour myself with utmost honesty…. No hiding and no glorification of my tiny eyes. No suppression of my ugly scars and aging grey hairs and thick Negro like lips, protruding upper jaws. What ever they are how ever they are they are all mine. The charcoal shades in and out… on the brows, lips, nose and nostrils. The uncombed long irregular hair was easy to draw with charcoal. Later with irregular strokes with square rough brush, the natural but aged hair can be brought out.
The pencil moves smoothly on all the points and angles to give an extra thickness. The paper is scrapped with microscopic unevenness which gives an extra roughness to the facial expression.
And the fine tipped and pointed brush moved to finish the delicate lines near the eyes and around the nostril. The brown paint below the eyes was light which required one more stroke I thought.I felt satisfied with the face more or less. Now the lower part of the chest which is covered with my loose top jubba should be completed. The dark blue colour with its one button hole visible and the single fold was tilted towards left. The colour itself was grading down slowly to the end of the frame. O.K. the portrait was good. It really looks like me…even the progressive lens spectacles have come out naturally. No unwanted glares and shades. Just the right expected effect. Good. I praised myself and took out my photo grey progressive spectacles slowly bending backwards and relaxing the body….One more look at my own portrait adjusting the focal length…!!! Drawing the sheet nearer to my eyes without my spectacles!!!!
Strange!! Something is seriously wrong…Yes... something is wrong somewhere. I can’t make out what exactly is missing or where exactly it has gone wrong.
Slowly I moved portrait forward and backwards so that I could have a critical look and analytical observation of the just finished work. The eyes covered by my spectacles are quite expressive. But what is it expressing? Ugly, ferocious, blood shot, angry, eyes!! The eyes are not mine.There was a wicked and crooked look and something very deceptive. There was something unusual of the eye with blood shot capillaries, which I had never even noticed once in my life. But it is clearly my eyes. The cruel gaze of the eyes was very disturbing. It looked as if it was laughing at me teasingly. I could not face it and turned away my sight from it.
There was deep stirring inside me.
Was that portrait really ME? Whom have I painted? Who is this man in the portrait? Is it me? If so where is that noble, gentle, intelligent face radiating love and kindness?
Were all those human virtues a mere ever eluding illusions of my subconscious which I had craved to have from my childhood, but never could cultivate and make them as a part of my personality!! They were and are still not part of me then? What am I then? Who is he glaring at me?
I am at pain to accept the portrait as mine.... but ????