Self Portrait #21 (after Klee)

sp 21 comp

Water, and fire above it

How I say to you the truth as I know it.
How I am lost in words.
Subtle gradations implications explanations.

Do they reveal tenderness or terror?
Do they echo feeling or imagine it?

How to adjust memory.
How to maintain and reflect.
Erasing magnifying refining touching failing.

Safety features are not built in.
Evidence is not self.

To delete is to open.


I wanted to do a final self-portrait inspired by Paul Klee.  There are so many wonderful Klee works to choose from, but I chose this one because of its title:  “Seventeen, Insane”.  I didn’t put the geometrics in, instead choosing to try to replicate the feeling, with loose ink portraits of myself now and at 17.  I think the feeling of being unable to understand what’s going on is an apt one, and Klee seems to me to be indicating that age doesn’t really clarify things at all.  I agree.

17 insane close up s

For the poem, I took one from my early 20s and revised it, but only a bit.  Mostly I redid the way I had the lines set up; rather than breaking up each thought into several lines, I made it into a single one.  I eliminated two lines altogether and changed 3 or 4 words.  And then I broke it up into stanzas.  And yes, that’s my original title.  And yes, also, I wrote that last line in the early 1970s, before “delete” and “open” had the meanings they hold in this digitized world.  That’s pretty strange.

My notebooks from then contain notes from books I was reading (Otto Rank with this one–we were reading him in a class I was taking), and poems mixed together.  From what I could tell, I started with a title, and had a complicated system of construction involving numbers, syllables, and first letters of each line.  I have no idea how to replicate it, because I don’t remember where it came from, and it makes no sense to me now.  “Insane” indeed.  (but I still like to play with numbers of syllables and words, so…)

17 orig drawing s

You can see the entire self-portrait series here.  Above is the drawing I did before simplifying it for the painting.  Somehow I managed to make the present “me” look much younger in the process as well…

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

24 responses to “Self Portrait #21 (after Klee)”

  1. alongtheinterstice says :

    one of the “realities” we have to embrace is that our past becomes more and more like a dream, rather than a life lived. It is nice to have all the context, making everything so much more layered

    whatever you were moving through at 17, the expression definitely has a rhythm that moves as if through water. and i can say “fire above” aptly describes how it felt on the surface of the mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jodi says :

    Beautiful! So insightful.


  3. Sharon Mann says :

    I love this intriguing post of writing and art. I enjoyed looking at your past self portraits. Also, what a gold mine to have your old writing notebooks to refer to and revise. Thanks Kerfe

    Liked by 2 people

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Sharon. I’ve been cleaning and found a bunch of them…not all by a longshot, but maybe more will turn up! I’m not that different, really, which is an interesting thing to consider.


  4. rivrvlogr says :

    I can imagine the voice going in both directions, younger-self and now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill Kuhn says :

    I like the colors you chose for your background and the simple lines of your faces. I find it interesting that you haven’t changed that much since 17 in your writing. It makes me wonder if I have stayed the same too? Much to contemplate. Thanks Kerfe! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Evelyn Flint says :

    Lovely art work and sketches – I too love Paul Klee’s work, it’s inspirational….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. merrildsmith says :

    There is so much to think about here–you then, you now–your “you-ness” not changing all that much. I get the Klee, but the final version makes me think of Joni Mitchell and one of her covers. Just something about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Betty Hayes Albright says :

    It’s always so interesting hearing about your creative process in both your poetry and artwork. (And I love both!)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Claudia McGill says :

    The past and present and future are all one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. charlotteash says :

    I love your finished self-portrait. The cloud-like background is a dreamy setting for the faces. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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