Self-harm

self-harm

I had some difficulty with the above painting. A few years ago I had  a model regularly do life-modelling for me. She posed for me on numerous occasions over many months. During these sittings, we spoke about anything and everything…, but I never once mentioned the scars on her arms. I often wondered about them, but just thought it inappropriate to talk about them. And I never showed them in my paintings.

I recently read “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. In this book, the main character spends most of his life self-harming, and it was interesting to see how those around him, including his closest friends, although aware of what he did, never spoke about it. Is this the norm?

So I revisited my reference photos and drawings from our various sittings, and thought that this time I would show her scars. I worried about whether it was appropriate to make them the subject of the portrait. But I painted them. And now I’m showing them.