I did not ask. A story about self-harm and my awkward reaction

oil painting I did not ask in studio with the artist.

I did not ask my model about the scars on her arms. Despite working with her regularly and being on familiar terms, I never once broached the subject of those scars, and in my paintings of her I never showed them.
A couple of years after this sitting I read the book “A Little Life” by Hanah Yanagihara – a difficult and troubling read, but extremely moving. As I read about the main character’s self-harming and how his friends were all quietly aware of it, but never spoke of it, I thought again about my model bearing her scars in silence. That is what compelled me to find the sketches and photos from that sitting, and to produce this.

i didn't ask. portrait of artist model showing self-harm scars

I think this painting is just as much about my own reaction to those marks on her forearms, and my awkward silence.