Don’t Paint Me


Mr Constable, da Vinci, Renoir
will you paint me in a tradition of oils
striking, bold, acrylic
or softly softly in colours of water?

Please don’t paint me with Mona Lisa smiles
serene and complacent

Don’t paint me frowning
in disapproval of the artist and his tricks

Don’t paint me with laughing eyes
when really they are sad

Don’t paint me in stained glass holiness
mother with child, Madonna blue
halos floating over

Don’t paint flirtations of your mind
paint me a real woman
the one who understands who she is
and knows what your brushes can do

Mr Picasso, Monet, Matisse
paint me as I am
or don’t paint me at all



Picture: Elemantica


I wrote this poem nearly three years ago, it’s altered a little since first writing it.Β  Can’t believe it took me so long to get round to recording this.Β  Of course, it’s meant as light hearted and a bit of a joke – so don’t take it too seriously! πŸ˜€

I’ve never been painted – yet, and can’t quite imagine what it would be like to have a portrait painted.Β  Are any of you preserved on canvas?

51jIIyqg26LWindswept: Poems Of Love
Owain Glyn



58 thoughts on “Don’t Paint Me

    1. Thank you Christy!! Yes, we all are on the inside… much stronger than others can see… it’s a good feeling to be painted in the right way. And thank you so much for tweeting this post too, really very kind of you!! 😊

  1. Absolutely phenomenal!!! A stupendous reading, I was transfixed- powerful, emotive, witty. Dorian Gray came swanning into view, and what ol’ Henry and Basil had to say about the relationship between the artist and his sitting subject- how artists often painted more of themselves in a subject, and inserted their own egos into their paintings, or allowed an enterprising spirit to dominate by “painting what sells”. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have a portrait painted- does a special kind of intimacy develop, or perhaps a rising discomfort or subtle embarrassment? You have sent my thoughts spinning. Superb write.

    All the best,

    Smiling Toad

    1. Thank you very much for your great enthusiasm for this poem!! πŸ™‚ That is an interesting concept – the artists might paint more of themselves in a subject. I’d never thought about that aspect in that way, but maybe seeing someone in a wrong light, is that very thing, painting a piece of ourselves into our perception of another person’s character. We probably do that most of time without even realising it, it’s impossible to entirely step out of our shoes! Painting what sells, that I can understand. It must be hard to please the subject and potential buyers too.

      No, I can’t imagine what it feels like either. I guess how it feel depends on how the process goes and if the result pleases you. I used to do a lot of photography portraits many years ago – sort of a similar kind of art, but just not paint. I know I definitely saw what I wanted to see in the lens, luckily the results were pleasing to both myself and the subject – I was forever in their good book! I remember friends who paid a terrific amount of money for a series of family portraits (dog included!) or for their wedding day, and were totally disappointed in the rubbish result and the bad attitude of the photographer. It was a painful, long lasting grievance and a bitterly expensive experience for them. I would imagine an art portrait gone wrong would be even worse!

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment Smiling Toad – your name has got me smiling! πŸ˜€

  2. Reminded me of the paintings of a great artist from our place – Raja Ravi Varma. The women in his paintings are so sensuous and I have always wondered if they were really that pretty. May be I am jealous. πŸ™‚
    We know the artists and photographers both like to take their subjects to perfection by enhancing certain features and hiding the flaws. That’s their selling point. Art is always exaggeration.
    However I like your demand and attitude – why go for flattery and alterations when you are aware of what you really are, your feelings and the infinite possibilities of an expert’s brush.

    Sometimes when we get our passport size photos from the studio the photographer would’ve touched it up beyond recognition. And I feel so embarrassed when people try to confirm it is really me. πŸ˜€
    Your voice is so soft and sweet. Loved this!

    1. Ah yes, I know what you mean! Art can alter reality to highly attractive or down right ugly!! I’ve not had any portraits taken in a photographers for many years, but I guess they do try and make everyone look like a model these days. It’s probably what a lot women want, so they assume everyone wants to see those perfect alterations. When it comes to perception of personality I really just want to be seen as ordinary me.

      I have met people who’ve put me on pedestals for all kinds of reasons. It’s bound to lead to problems! Thank you so much sweet friend! πŸ™‚

  3. This is only the second post that I have read in this blog. I am sure that I will have finished reading all within a day or two. Its almost like a novel I can’t put down. It draws me in and makes me want to know your next thought. And it inspires too.

    As for this post, I’m going to sound immature compared to the rest of the comments.

    I have been sketched twice – In one, I didn’t like the imperfections that were there. (Its not the artist – its me). Am I ready to see me as I am?

    In the second, the result didn’t matter as during the process I could feel the artist See Me.

    Then, I realized I didn’t really want a portrait. I just wanted to be seen. I haven’t been sketched since.

    1. My goodness, never had anyone describe my blog as like a novel before…thank you, that’s a lovely compliment! πŸ™‚ I guess it’s difficult to see what we write from the readers perspective.

      I understand what you mean in are you ready to see who you are. I’m pretty sure most of us feel like that. It’s one thing to take selfies and get the pose exactly how we want, but seeing ourselves as others see us, is something else entirely. I’ve never been painted or sketched or even photographed professionally since I was a child, so I have no idea what I would feel like. Could be very revealing if I did! πŸ™‚

    1. That’s sad you no longer have that painting, it’s not something many people have now – selfies even seem to have taken over from those beautifully posed photography portraits. Oh well, you must have a good way of seeing people Brenda – that’s a beautiful compliment! I’ve only ever painted trees and flowers – if they could speak, I wonder what they’d say of my interpretation?! πŸ˜‰

      1. LOL I haven’t painted anyone in years. I do miss painting. I have the urge to try again, but not the time or space. I imagine the trees and flowers would appreciate having part of their past preserved. πŸ™‚

  4. I purposely will not read the comments of others until after I post mine here. I actually read this poem quite seriously. As a feminist and a woman who has seen women captured as the ‘witch, the bitch, the innocent, the devil, the angel,’ etc, but rarely as a full-bodied, full blooded human being. I love your poem – I think it says a LOT about what we women want and how we want to be viewed.

    1. I wondered myself if there was more seriousness in this poem than I had first thought. I wanted to read it in a very humorous way, but just couldn’t quite get that right, so maybe that’s why. It was intended to have a duel feeling and meaning – ironic humour plus the reality and annoyance of misperception. I’m glad you saw it as serious, because presenting a woman or a man as stereotypical or entirely misrepresented can be a severe irritation. Unfortunately some people will never look at anything or anyone in a balanced way. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment Pamela, that means a lot! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you very much Marcelo! πŸ™‚ I think you’re absolutely right, a painting is a piece of art and not the true self at all. I find photography very similar especially when it comes to people – every picture of the same person can look very different – so which is the real self? I was editing some photos of a garden today and every version I did of the same image looked hugely different. Some illusions can be wonderful to look at though!!

  5. Thanks for the smile Suzy. Loved your poem! and no, I’ve never been painted, except as a cartoon character, a quick sketch from an artist on the street. It wasn’t too flattering! But it was interesting to see what features were exagerated.

    1. Oh, that sounds interesting Linda, and totally brave of you! I can’t imagine having that done and what bits they’d exaggerate on my face!! If it makes you feel any better Linda, consider this – exaggerated cartoon sketches are often way overdone – you know how attractive Princess Diana was? But I’ve seen some revoltingly over emphasised sketches of her. An artist sees in the way they choose to see and it isn’t always accurate, then they hope everyone will like it. I guess in a way, it’s a bit like being a poet! πŸ˜€

    1. Thank you very much, I’m so glad you saw the humour in this one, I had real trouble recording it, countless recordings and it still didn’t quite come out in the tone I wanted it to – posted it as it was in the end! It was intended to be very much humour, but at the same time touching on the way we can all get so badly misinterpreted sometimes.

      I like painting, but don’t know if I’d dare attempt to paint a human face. Not anyone I know anyway. I’m better with trees – trees don’t complain! πŸ˜€

  6. People do look at us and we look at them entirely wrong. I’ve never been literally painted either, but I know I’ve been painted in the mind very wrong a few times. Those paintings of the mind can be very silly!! πŸ˜€

  7. Not I.

    Lovely poem. Wouldn’t it be awkward to commission a painting and then not be happy with the final artwork? I wonder how much say the subject has?

    1. Thank you! So you’ve managed to keep yourself off the canvas?!! πŸ˜€

      I think it would be a horrible experience to go to the trouble of commissioning a painting and then loathing it – I’m sure it happens. I know friends who have had family portraits taken and they’ve spent a lot of money up front only to find the photographer made a real mess of of the occasion. How miserable that must be. 😐

      I would imagine the amount of say, might depend on the artist, but maybe if you’re rich and famous the artists hear you better. But having said that, I’ve seen some pretty dreadful portraits of the Queen. Didn’t look like she had much of a say. So glad I wasn’t born in that kind of noble family line, I’m sure my face by now would be hanging on some wall for sure!!

    1. Yes?!! Yes, you have been preserved on canvas?

      I share your loathing of seeing pictures of myself. I managed to take some reasonable selfies last summer, I don’t mind looking at those, but pictures taken badly by others, most times I feel like saying…please don’t show me!

      I’m sure it’s a common feeling. Having taken portraits of people in the past, I would say it’s largely down to the fact most people don’t know the first thing on how to take a good picture of people. Funny how how so many manage to take good selfies though. πŸ˜‰

  8. Haven’t even painted a portrait of myself (well, not the real me; there’s the Doctor Who artwork I did as a gift to my husband a while back and other character pieces) but I suppose I should one day. Oh wait–a classmate drew me in a life drawing class once and I probably have that somewhere, but it was in charcoal on newsprint, so it’s probably fallen apart in the portfolio by now!

    1. I remember that artwork you did of yourself very well, it was lovely!! πŸ™‚ Did you do one of your husband earlier, or am I remembering that wrong? I think it’s a tremendous talent to be able to paint faces, and to even do your own portrait is even more amazing. If done well, perhaps they are the better kind of selfie?!! πŸ˜€

      Wow, I don’t think I ever met anyone nice enough at school to have myself drawn by them. Oh well, if you ever find it, and it’s still in one piece, it will be great to see it!

      1. Yes, I did one as a gift for my husband, primarily. The companion one was only after many friends suggested the idea. πŸ™‚ I’ll have to see if I still have those drawings from my class. Been few years now, though!

  9. That is cool. The painted lady in the picture is a bit unreal too. The flowers seem to grow out of the canvas πŸ™‚ A bit of photoshop can’t hurt πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ Yes, she just that – very lovely, but I doubt she looks that way when she gets up in the morning. πŸ˜‰ Yes, that canvas is definitely growing flowers. It’s a bit dream like, but I love the picture! A bit of photoshop is a requirement for most of us I’m sure. At least we all know now even the most perfect looking model is heavily photoshopped too, that’s got to be a bit of a consolation!

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