Thursday, July 22, 2010


Regrets, oil on board, 90 x 60 cm

There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
But has one vacant chair!

The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,
Will not be comforted!

from Resignation , Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It's not for laws I've broken
That bitter tears I've wept,
But solemn vows I've spoken
And promises unkept;
It's not for sins committed
My heart is full of rue,
but gentle acts omitted,
Kind deeds I did not do.

from Regrets, Robert William Service

Back to the serious business of expressive self-portraits.
With each one i focus on an emotion as i work, especially emotions i believe common in the adult world. More common with advancing age, yet seldom depicted in self-portraiture or even spoken of in the slick dream that has become our public media.
Today, yes, regrets i've got a few. Robert Frost had miles to go before he slept and still had promises to keep when he wrote his evocative little poem.
The elderly have very few miles left to go, and carry the burden of promises not kept.


  1. This is a powerful and disturbing image, Harry. You have an astonishing imagination to arrive here from regrets. Wow.

  2. Harry,

    Your post are always very thought provoking. I will probably be thinking about what regrets I have all day, but that just means that the power and purpose of your work here is effective.

    A very strong nose on this one, and I am especially drawn to the eyes like I am in most of your paintings.

    Have a weekend free of regrets,

  3. I appreciate what you wrote about the "slick dream that has become our public media" --I have some regret that I gave that world (advertising) so much of my life. But everything could always have been worse than it was..that is what I tell myself. Your portrait shows the dark side..but I also see strength and resolve. It is a wonderful painting.

  4. again , really great work.
    i like the way you've made the lights and shadows on this !

  5. Sad and beautiful as life itself.
    The resignation is in the eye.

    Triste y bello como la vida misma.
    La resignaciòn està en la mirada.

    Best regards, Harry.

  6. Elizabeth, welcome home from your travels. What do regrets look like? I didn't actually try to imagine their face. I only conjured certain personal memories and the feelings attached to them, such as the circumstances around the death of my mother. From my perspective it is the stimulus material that is disturbing rather than the image. To me, the image now states the obvious and i worry that it will be seen as shallow.

  7. Fascinating work.
    It has been delightful
    to visit your gallery.
    Good Creations

  8. Brian, hope your day wasn't too filled with self-recrimination and maudlin longing, lol ... yes, the nose is more an abstract motif than a naturalistic depiction

    i find the problem with expressionist portraiture is how distortions are read, because expressionist elements lie not only in the manner of the marks but also very much in compositional and stylistic elements

    taken as a photo-reproduction, one would have to conclude that in this painting the eyes are too close together and of different colours, the philtrum too long and chin too small, the tonal values of shadows not consistent and failing to establish depth of field, the nostrils too circular etc etc ... but taken as a free composition that morphs a face into an expressive expression, then it might be effective

    and yes, the eyes are my fav bits, lol ... after all, they are said to be the window to the soul

  9. Celeste, thanks for sharing your feelings in hindsight about a previous career and the wise way you put that experience into perspective

    i am glad you saw some contradictions in my portrait for that is what i was trying to say with the extreme contrasts of light and dark ... i find that surviving difficult experiences and times in our life leaves us conflicted, often on a roller-coaster of feelings, with new insights dearly bought

    regret contains sorrow but also the seeds of resolve

  10. hi Caio, always nice to have your comment

  11. Thank you, Azucena ... i try to say how it is, to paint suchness in a heightened way

    my art is more philosophical than decorative and aims for the impact of expressive load rather than prettiness - which may make it too contronting for some tastes.

    Yet i hope it also contains a dark beauty of its own ... beauty and truth, that's all ye need to know on earth.

  12. I like your distortions and lack of balance. We need to see this; as the viewer we can create our own balance. It's good.

  13. Thanks, Carrie, that's very encouraging.

  14. Hello Harry,
    This image is powerful !!!!!!!
    You took this picture from the depths of your soul,
    I see longing and pain embedded in it.
    This image is spectacular in terms of pictorial and human.
    Congratulations, my friend.

  15. This a marvelous self-portrait! I have often said that age seasons one for art. I has for you.

    I too went back to school when I was "older". I was in my 40s and got my MFA on my 50th birthday. I had and older compatriot and the kids could match us for our experience, breadth of reading, or work ethic. They actually had very little to say. We had volumes.

  16. Damn, this is so good....! ;-)
    But a very good, very strong painting.

  17. Thank you, Paulo. Yes, i did dig a bit deep for this one. Decisions not taken, actions not followed through, the loss of ones i love - they all take their toll. They all become fodder for an artist to speak, through art-making, on behalf of all those who have also known these things - to speak to those who haven't that they might understand, speak to those who have they might find comfort in knowing they are not alone. Thanks for seeing this work as an affirmation of our common humanity, Paulo.

  18. Thanks, Davida, for seeing a positive effect of my aging on my art. I am so conscious that i have left it all far too late in life. That's why my art practice is taking the route that it is, going for brike, for the jugular, taking risk after risk, instead of calmly and systematically building knowledge and skills.

    and i share your experience of university. My trouble is i have too much to say, haha, and should probably just take a cold shower, go paint something pretty and shut up for a bit.

  19. Thanks Monica. Glad you like it cause I respect your judgement a great deal.

  20. love this... and.. what appears to be blood. even better!