Monday, September 14, 2009

How Authors See Themselves

“A person himself believes that all the other portraits are good likenesses except the one of himself.” – Edvard Munch

I came across what I think is a most interesting site, Art and the World of Luis Quintanilla. Click here for a biography of this talented artist. A group of paintings titled "The Portraits of Authors as How they See Themselves" caught my attention.

The site said all text could be copied for non-commercial use, but nothing about the photos of the art itself. Since I don’t want to infringe on any copyrights, I’ll leave it up to you to click over to see any portraits you’re interested in.

Here are comments by a few of the authors:
Dorthy Parker as Betsy Ross
"We all have our crosses to bear, or so I am told, and among the more burdensome of mine is my face. Had I been consulted, things would have been vastly different. But I was not, and there I was, and there it was. So when Luis Quintanilla, deep in his project of painting various writers in the characters of those whom they secretly - well, perhaps not always quite that - considered themselves to be, asked me how I saw myself, I could only tell him the desperate truth: as a pastel old party, sitting in a corner, knitting. That was how the portrait started out. But then the artist, a man of infinite compassion, brushed in the cap and the shawl, and thus, by a few strokes, made something of my face and of me - a flagless Betsy Ross, say, or a non-arithmetical Madame Defarge. Either one enchants me, and gives me the incentive of emulation. And so I am truly grateful to a truly great artist."

George Jean Nathan as Hamlet
"I see myself as a somewhat somber fellow who views the meanness of life with a rebellious sense of its possible beauty and who subscribes for happiness and security to the recipe of sticking a rose into the brain and throwing a pitcher of ice-water over the heart. "

Elliot Paul as a Picador.
"It’s not so much the adoration of the crowd and the danger. Think of the hours. And if one is impaled or slashed, there are always the sulfa drugs.”

"I suppose everyone who is built for a picador wants to wear the cloth of gold, face the bull on his own level, and be fearless and precise. And Anglo-Saxons long to be Latins, and vice versa."

Here are the other authors listed:
Carl Van Doren as a Sculptor of Benjamin Franklin. He was a Franklin scholar and had written his biography.
Leonard Lyons as Mercury, the messenger of the gods. He was a widely read gossip columnist for the New York Post.
William Shirer as an Astrologer.
Richard Wright as a Jigsaw Puzzle, because he saw himself as a jigsaw puzzle.
Freda Kirchway, of "The Nation," as Madame Butterfly.
John Steinbeck as a Sea Serpent. He claimed he had once seen a sea serpent.
Lillian Hellman in grays, because she saw herself as gray in spirit.
William Rose Benet as a Balearic Countryman.
Quentin Reynolds, the journalist, as a Judge.
John Dos Passos as a Sunday Painter. (He was a good amateur painter.)
Vincent Sheean as a Mandarin colonel.
Arthur Miller as Abraham Lincoln.

I found this letter by Arthur Miller in the excerpts from the biography of Quintanilla, Waiting at the Shore.
“Dear Mr. Quintanilla: the only hesitation I have about sitting for you is due to an inability to decide who or what would be a representative symbol. I have been liked to Lincoln by some, which is flattering, but a few see in my face the present Pope. I myself, of course, like to think the former. Anyway, I would be delighted to sit, having been an admirer of your work for many years. I work, usually until noon. But I wish you would phone me and we can set up the days."

I, like Arthur Miller, have an inability to decide who or what would be a representative symbol, other than just simply me as myself. That sounds hokey, but it’s all I can come up with at the moment.

If you were to have your portrait done, how would you see yourself?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Evard Munch, portraits, Quintanilla, Dorthy Parker, Arthur Miller, John Steinbeck,


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jane, I'd never thought about a portrait like that - LOL!

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

The Old Silly said...

Fascinating post, subject, and good links to check it/them out. I'd never thought of how I'd like my portrait to look. Hmmm - no quick answer, I'll have to ponder that one. ;)

Marvin D Wilson

Stephen Tremp said...

Tough question. Not sure how I should me immortalized. I feel that I'm just Plain Ol' Steve. so nothing too fancy.

Stephen Tremp

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm too close to the subject. I see all my faults each day. I don't know how others would see me.

Morgan Mandel

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What an interesting post!

I'd love to be Norman Rockwell. Humor and Americana... I wish!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Alexis Grant said...

Wow. You come across some of the most interesting stuff! Really different than some of the other blogs I read.

I hope you'll visit my blog to see my interview with Karen :)

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Hmmm. Okay, …. Who would I be???? I’d be….Mickey mouse. The ears, the nose, the widows peak, well it used to be anyway. That, or maybe that thing that runs around in a diaper in Lord of the rings. You know the one, kinda smarmy with bad teeth and looking to cheat someone? I could also be a fat Woody Allen. There are just some to get you started.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Helen Ginger said...

That's a hard question. I have a feeling than few of us see ourselves as others see us. It would be very interesting to see how someone else would paint me - or anyone else.

Straight From Hel

K. A. Laity said...

Oh, no question -- William Blake!

Fantastic post, Jane.

julielomoe said...

Great post, Jane. I've painted my own portrait many times over the years, but I've never painted myself as someone else. My style leans toward Munch and the German expressionists - you can check it out on my book cover illustrations.

Back in the 1980's, in one of my many ill-fated attempts to make a living from my art, I got into doing commissioned portraits. That didn't last long, though - it was virtually impossible to please the patrons. I portrayed everyone as too angst-ridden.

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

Karen Walker said...

You do find the most interesting things to blog about, Jane. I have no idea how others see me and I've spent so many years hating my appearance that the thought of having it immortalized on canvas is frightening.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world