I do not like having my photo taken. The thought of being captured on video is right up there with the idea of taking a dive off a bridge with a bungee cord attached to my ankles.
Drawing self portraits is different.
At first there is this face in the mirror. It is fatter than I'd like. I see the coarseness of my skin and the way folds of it sag in places. My chin is no longer as well defined as it used to be and my eyebrows have no sense of decorum at all..
Then I pick up my pen and take a closer look. I start with a nostril. Why a nostril? I don't know - it's a place to start. I look at the shape of the dark opening of the tunnel that runs up the inside of my nose. It isn't round. The darkness isn't all the same density. I draw the outside line of my nose around my nostrils, feeling the shape and texture in my mind and somehow relaying that feeling to the hand that holds the pen. I observe. I sense. I am present with every line. I am subject, verb and object. There are no more eyes, nose, wrinkles, ears. There is only shape and curve and light and dark, delicate lines, heavy lines.
Then colour. I see green and blue where I thought there were only skin tones. Crimson and ochre. Warm and cool.
When it is done and I look at the drawing I have made, it is not good or bad. It is a faithful record of my seeing in that time and place. Even if it doesn't look like me, it has something of myself in it.
These five selfies were all drawn looking into the same mirror. I used different materials each time. In some I used one continuous line. In others I tried to capture light and shade.
Drawing these self portraits there was no room for judgement; only seeing. Looking in the mirror can be the same. Looking with judgement limits what we can see. Seeing without judgement opens up a whole new world.