I have always used portraits – especially self-portraits – as a form of ‘art exercise’, a way of maintaining the basic skills of draughtsmanship and eye/hand co-ordination.  That is until three years ago when my husband was diagnosed with early onset dementia.  Soon after that I felt the need to record the changes in him.  I’m still not sure about my motivation for this – somewhere between cold, rational, record-keeping and some kind of control over what was/is happening.  Whatever the reason, I have set out on producing a series of drawings and paintings of him.  The result, you will see, is not ‘realistic’ but is a reflection of mood – both his and mine.  [It also led me into doing other portraits, more positive images, which might be the subject of future blog].

This is the first oil sketch I made, many years ago when he was still young, vigorous and in control of his life.KP 1st


And this one just about the time of the diagnosis –

Keith - good days



Drawings made since ..


2012-05-20 19.22.11K drawing 1-1


And an oil the he is still pleased with ..

KP oil


I think that, overall, the making of the images is about giving me control over my life, not his.  But then, isn’t that what we are all doing when we make images.  It is that primitive.

2 thoughts on “Portraits

  1. Looking at this prior to reading your words, I felt there is a power in this; a quiet, strong dignity in the face of great sadness, a kind of grieving for what is to come. The painting seemed monumental, a testimony to a strong will to carve something permanent out of change.

    Then I read the words and understood the background.

    The painting doesn’t need the words, it’s that good.

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