self portraits and Mr.van Rijn

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I imagine most people doodle, either when on the phone listening to a boring conversation or just having nothing better to do. Like Rembrandt, many artists do self portraits when they are stuck. Or, I do, for sure. All my life I have done self portraits and most were destroyed or I simply threw them away. But I have a few left.

I was recently looking at Rembrandt's self portraits. I was actually trying to find out why no Dutch people call their kids 'Rembrandt' anymore. It is a first, given or Christian name. I understand why kids are not called Adolf. We must not forget that Rembrandt van Rijn wasn't a poor bugger, he was famous and highly respected but his self portraits fascinate me.

It appears that he was very objective, but when he was young the arrogance was put on, when he was older he looked so sweet and content. He looked like my mum in fact. Was he? I think so. My late mother was a very good portraitist, by the way. She did a portrait of me when she was well into her 80's.

Me? No way, when I feel bad, I put a terribly sad or bad looking person on the canvas. When I am angry I would paint an angry man. I was once very upset with a lady I was living with because she didn't acknowledge my paintings. I have written before about this. So, one day I did a self portrait with the woman next to me and did I make her look nasty.

I'll show you a few self portraits I have done over the years. But I must say, so often people have asked me to do THEIR portrait and I have refused. For two reasons: I fear the challenge as you must paint the person the way they want to look. And I must curtail my personal interpretation.

All in all, it isn't worth it, I am a coward, but as I was saying to my friend and colleague Roeland Zijlstra, who does many portraits; 'I shall have to bite the bullet and do it, get it out of the way!'. So tomorrow I want to do a self portrait again. See what I end up with. My life is very good, I am happy, healthy and poor, so surely this must be seen in the painting. Then we'll see if Clemens will sit for me. That will be my first portrait! And Clemens' first too... :-)

  Paul, alone in Terena, self portrait Paul and woman in mixed media. Self portrait with bird (actually my psychologist M). Self portrait for mother
Four definite emotional periods in my life, spanning a period from 1985 to 2002. From; Alone in Terena, Portugal, then with the woman who preferred me not to paint, to counseling with a psychologist and then, finally, reality!