painting a face



it starts as it always does

with a moment of hesitation


bead of vermilion on tip

hovering like a predator above

unsuspecting gesso


then the strike

scarlet on white

sure stroke spreading to curve

haemorrhage encouraged




another pearl curling right

and at the edges a fastidious touch

fattening lips with promise


hard bristle angled

traces brows and eyes

sweeps in one direction

resolute as skate on ice

an oval of face


and solid lines run south

to encompass a nose

north of the clotting mouth


5 thoughts on “painting a face

  1. This is beautiful. Silly me. I had to read it twice before I understood. Upon first reading, it felt like a critical blow from within. I related it to physical pain. Then again, sometimes the artist – in her heart-on-sleeve-wearing ways – can perceive the visual manifestation of her work as painful, indeed.

  2. Compelling exploration of an artist’s lexicon of expressive words, culminating with the euphemistic ending with a “clotting” mouth. Of course, one could also interpret it as a plain and simple description of the paint’s viscosity, but… well, it’s your expression. I’m just one interpretor. But, for me, it suggests the duplicity inherent in so many facial impressions. For me, that is truth by way of an artist’s patina choice of both color and texture…a process for me to discover and think on.

  3. Agony is the artist’s true rendering and gesso an unwilling assailant attempting to manipulate the fate of the canvas as pigmented oil is lashing it with bristled intensity. I do appreciate this masterful rendering John.

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