“Self-portrait as a geisha”

  • Contemporary woman artist's self-portrait as a geisha
  • self-portrait-geisha
  • unfinished-geisha

“Self-portrait as a geisha”

(oil and acrylic on canvas)

I’ve always related to da Vinci’s feelings about art. His phrase ‘Art is never finished. Only abandoned’ makes a lot of sense to me. As well as to many other artists I’m sure. 

Sometimes you have to struggle to physically pull yourself away from a painting you’re working on because there’s always a little something you can improve.  I’ve learned that it’s a trap, and if you don’t stop in time you’ll keep on making improvements forever. And oftentimes, these ‘improvements’ are not for the best.  So you have to learn how to be satisfied with imperfection. It’s a very useful habit I might add.  In art and in life.

Of course there are times when you, as an artist, do abandon your art way before it’s anywhere near being finished.  Especially if it’s something personal and loses its meaning in the process. 

A lot of my paintings are self-portraits. Self-portraits are always personal painted to reflect a particular moment in an artist’s life. It certainly rings true for me. My self-portraits are a way for me to express visually what I dare not express verbally. I come to certain realizations about myself and I set them to canvas. 

I started this self-portrait years ago. It was right after I had a relationship with a man who was much older than me. He was an interesting character; imbalanced, crazy romantic, spontaneous, and unpredictable. Apparently, that’s the type of people I tend to attract. Lol. 

It was a whirlwind romance. As most of my romances are. I was madly in love and subconsciously tried to prove myself worthy of his love. Of course, I wasn’t aware of that at the moment.

Modern Day Geishas

It came to me later, after we’ve already broken up. At the time I was reading ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. The book made me think that there was little difference between the Japanese girls of the yesteryear raised to be geishas and many Ukrainian girls raised in modern times. 

It’s crazy to think that there would be any commonalities between the two, and yet it’s true. A lot of Ukrainian girls are raised with the notion that you have to look good and behave a certain way to be pleasing to the opposite sex. You have to be thin, desirable, interesting and entertaining. Not that there’s anything wrong with the above. 

However, a woman should not feel like she has to adhere to a certain stereotype to be deserving of love. Once I realized that I started seeing my past behavior in a very different light. I didn’t want to be a ‘geisha’ anymore. All I wanted was to simply be a human, which meant I was worthy of love regardless of how I looked or how I behaved. 

A day after I started painting it, I decided to abandoned my self-portrait. Poor thing got banished to the basement for many years.  I rediscovered it as I was cleaning out some old stuff and felt bad for it’s unfinished appearance.  

I finished it in a day. For me it’s rather curious that I painted this self-portrait in just 2 days …over a decade apart.