"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession."--Albert Camus
I also find that I am repeatedly cautioning myself with regard to the choices I make about what will or will not be included in a series of paintings. I knew when I painted Thich Nhat Hahn that his portrait was not as likely to sell as Marilyn's--a thought that took me down a whole other path about what we value in art and in icons... But I wanted to paint him anyway, and I interacted with him and his thoughts so intensely while I was painting him, it still brings tears to my eyes sometimes.
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I think a lot about the things I paint as I paint them. It would be much easier, in some ways, to just make lots of paintings of Marilyn Monroe, knowing they would most likely sell if I managed to capture some semblance of her physical beauty. But that kind of painting is not very satisfying. I especially like to paint portraits, and I like discovering the person I am depicting, as each portrait becomes for me a kind of self-prescribed course of study. I feel very strongly that a portrait must become not only a likeness of the subject, but must convey something more, something which more deeply impacts the viewer.
Marilyn Monroe may have come across as a beautiful, Iditzy blond, but she did examine her life. The image below is an excerpt from her diaries. (Click on the pages to go to some examples of her unpublished poems.)