Self Portrait (Tony and My Mother)2012 by Mary Beth McKenzie

Contemporary figurative painter Mary Beth McKenzie has returned again and again to the theme of the self portrait over the years, including many examples of the working self portrait. Far from being symptoms of vanity, we see the painter gazing unflinchingly into the mirror, noting and accepting the bodily changes wrought by time.

MBM: There is always the model issue. You have models for a limited time. You have yourself forever. So, if you want to try something different in a self portrait, you feel freer to take chances. I think I’ve learned a lot doing that. It’s difficult to make yourself take a break, so, basically, you are not able to be objective. I may have worked on one small self portrait for 6,000 hours. I will look at it the next day and do another whole painting. I think every self portrait has a hundred different self-portraits underneath. I’m always doing one.
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