Happy and Sad

Isaac Hernández, Self-portrait, oil pastel on paper, 2010.

I’ve been drawing self-portraits for many years. It’s funny, because I don’t look at myself in the mirror very much, other than when I’m drawing a self-portrait. There are many days when I don’t look at myself in the mirror at all. After all, if you don’t shave or comb your hair, you don’t need a mirror. You can wash your face, floss and brush teeth without seeing you.

When I paint a self-portrait, the person in the mirror is a stranger. And since painting occurs very much as meditation for me, that person is often pensive. And those thoughts looks different every time. I’d like to capture silly emotions all the time, but do you know how difficult is to keep a big smile while looking at yourself in the mirror for hours? And with no make up! I invite you to try it.

Some people have given me a hard time for painting myself sad all the time. To them, I dedicate the self-portrait above. What can I say. I’m a happy guy. And I’m a sad guy. I treasure all emotions. I’m happy I’m sad. I couldn’t have painted myself happy without painting myself sad first, see below. Because if we were happy all the time, we would be bored from happiness.

Both portraits are still in progress. I guess everything is always in progress. When it’s over, you die. I’ve tweaked the one on the bottom several times, correcting different elements to make the forced perspective from down below work. Thanks to Libby Smith, who I had as a teacher, it’s easy for me to see what’s wrong in a face, mostly my face. Yes, I know, Libby, the ears need to move a bit lower still and the left eye (the eye on the left which also happens to be my left eye, since it’s a reflection) still needs more work. And the right could use some adjustments too. But I ran out of yellow. I painted until the oil pastel was the size of a grain of rice. I’ll get some more yellow, and I’ll continue working on it once I shave. I will come back to this blog and add the dimensions. Suffice to say that the sad golden portrait below is at least four times larger than the happy blue portrait above. What does it all mean?

Isaac Hernández, Self-portrait, oil pastel on paper, 2010.


Isaac Hernandez. "Sunburn (self-portrait)". Gouache on paper, 2012. ©2012 IsaacHernandez.com

Last week we celebrated the cast party for The Magical Seaweed with a barbeque that included a beach clean-up. I got a bit sunburn. It was the perfect opportunity to play with my son’s gouache paint set. Who knew gouache could be so much fun? I guess I did, but it had been a long time since the last time I played with gouache.


A la Carmen

I woke up this morning with Carmen in my mind, just like every single day, and a sentence in my lips, “We haven’t ask death for an explanation,” except in Spanish: “No hemos pedido explicaciones a la muerte.” And I had to write a poem. I then proceeded to translate it to English (see below), which was easier than I thought, since the emotions are so present. With this poem, I try to fill the void, just like I attempted to do working on the oil pastel above. It started as an orange and blue painting, and soon became very blue, and black.


A la Carmen

No hemos pedido explicaciones a la muerte

No pudimos entender lo cierto

No nos dio tiempo.


No nos acostumbramos al vacío de las horas

El pozo que ayer rebosaba con tu risa

Se traga ahora negro los segundos.


Ya no existen en el mundo lágrimas

Para inundar la emoción a flor de piel

De días sin fin y noches sin sueño.


Tu ausencia llena cada instante

Como el eco de tu voz en la distancia

Que quiere dar consuelo.


Dime por favor que la vida es sueño

Que despertaremos de la eterna soledad

Para reír juntos de nuevo.


To the Carmen

We haven’t asked death for an explanation

We couldn’t understand what’s certain

We had no time.


We can’t get used to the emptiness of hours

The well that yesterday overflowed with your laughter

Now swallows, black, the seconds.


No more tears in the world remain

To inundate our raw emotions on edge

The endless days and sleepless nights.


You absence fills each and every instant

Like the echo of your voice heard in the distance

That wants to comfort us.


Please tell me that life’s a dream

That we’ll wake up from eternal solitude

To laugh again together.


©2012 Isaac Hernández