Ways of seeing – A portrait of the artist as a young man
My father painted this portrait of me when I was around 5 or 6 years old. He began painting it when we lived in Sweden, and he finished later when we had moved to Ireland. I know this because I recall posing for it when we lived in our little apartment in Kalmar in the south east of Sweden. I have a softer recollection of the latter phase of the painting but I recognise the house outside the window as our neighbour’s house in Waterford, Ireland, so it was definitely created over a period of years. Seeing it again and studying the painting, it made me think of a few things. Firstly the way another person sees you is always filtered through a certain lens and you cannot control that. In this case I see it as a loving gaze of a father and that shines through in the soft energy of the light. It also feels fitting that I appear to be sitting down to write, which ultimately ended up being my own path as an artist & creative. Secondly I was taken with the idea of the drafts and phases a piece of art goes through, and that the completion often comes long after the initial creation. This gives me comfort knowing that even a painting of this scale (the original painting is 5m x 3m) has a series of iterations and drafts, just like my own work. And finally, the slightly hazy, almost ghostly elements to it feel like it is slightly unfinished, or perhaps it was an artistic choice. I like not knowing that. When is a piece of art done? That is a question every one of us must ponder with everything we create.