My interest in self-portrait painting began during my childhood. One of my deepest and earliest impressions of self-portrait painting occurred when I was seven or eight years old. I was sitting in front of a mirror for hours on end when I suddenly began to take notice of the subtle fluctuations in facial expressions, or rather the changes between the uneven contours of the cheekbone and lower jawbone. Despite having not yet been formally taught the structure of the face, I began painting both strange and familiar faces over and over again. Satisfaction, however, was rarely achieved and I would often destroy my works. (In those days tearing apart my paintings was another joy to be had, a manifestation of my candid character. At sixteen years old a mentor reminded me: "There are no bad paintings, only a painting that is not yet finished." Since then, I have destroyed my paintings less often.)
Most of my self-portraits began with a sudden spark of the moment: a sketch between classes, or awakened at midnight to start a new sketch with a record of my thoughts and emotions. Such experiences gave me endless inspiration and emotional release. By the age of eighteen I had devoted myself to completing my first full-length self-portrait.
I have always had deep impressions of loneliness and pride. I was afraid of being with people in groups; festive holidays have frequently given me a deep sense of unease. When I was speaking in elementary school my facial expression appeared determined but my hands, feet, and lips would tremble, betraying the facade of confidence. My heart rate would jump out of tune until I could hardly make a sound. All of these movements would be promptly felt by others, and the atmosphere would soon turn unbearable. Upon reflection I increasingly believed that my pride and profound discomfort with others were two radically unbalanced traits. My subconscious automatically sought safety, yet my pride would interfere. I would intuitively react hostilely to others for fear that others viewed the world as I did. Imagine the intertwined disharmony between my anti-social behavior and my pride!
Sometimes I would not talk for months on end. I believed I had possibly grown more thoughtful and mature than my peers; however, I was more-so someone who always observed yet was disappointed by the words and actions of others. Despite this silence my love for the world continued to grow and I looked for different means to understand others. I consequently took to observing the expressions, motions, and words of others, perhaps as a result of my sensitivity and a desire to make up for my shortcomings. At university I chose two psychology courses: health psychology and personal psychology. With this introduction I began to read works on philosophy and psychology to explore human nature, focusing on using the paint brush to express emotions and ideas. In fact, painting is more a way of understanding the subconscious and display of both love and loneliness.
Emotion displayed in the eyes offers me unlimited enthusiasm; slight movements in the edges of the mouth electrify my heart. Understanding portrait-painting has given me deep and profound emotional experiences and helped me understand passage of time and emotions. Growing older has further aroused a keener ability to understand such emotion.
When sitting in front of a mirror I forget the passage of time, a deep impression of stillness surrounds me. I do not touch but rather feel my breath. My self-portraits are usually a result of an emergence of an intense sense of consciousness. Attention to this changing feeling offers abundant emotional inspiration the paintings, whether joy or sorrow. Used with my imagination the dialogue between me and my work achieves completion.
In the summer of 2005 I painted dozens of self-portraits, thinking about the process as a diary. Everyday I painted I noticed a difference. I felt that the mirror was joking with me: What about today is different than yesterday? What is changing? Since then I have found this diary record to be the most clear and transparent method of looking into the thought processes of my past.
Discussions with others are often a mirror of oneself. Discussions with the painting is a mirror of one’s soul.