I love it when inspiration comes in unexpected encounters.  I was approached in late in 2015 with a tantalizing proposition - to create a "self-portrait" for an exhibition at the New Museum Los Gatos called "More Than Your Selfie." The museum curator, Maryann McGrath, encouraged me to "reveal" aspects of my SELF in the painting.

What a prospect! I have been painting "portraits in absentia" for over 5 years - they are illuminations of people, real or imagined, using objects or their own belongings - to tell stories in paint about their lives, journeys, and selves.

And now I was asked to turn this eye on myself. How to choose objects that reveal something about my true self - my story and my thoughts? What to reveal and what not to reveal?

The painting that emerged, "Self Portrait in Absentia," was a revelatory journey. I selected objects that "show" an aspect of me (my beloved red lipstick), some objects with deep personal meaning (my father's palette knife), and I included postcards of art that resonate profoundly with me.
And I decided to "invent"  two books I wish existed -- whose subjects are ideas and values I cherish.

This painting has opened up worlds of enticing new ideas to explore and encounter in future paintings.  Here's to chance encounters.....

"Self-Portrait in Absentia," oil in linen, 24x36"
By Elizabeth Barlow

New Museum Los Gatos
"More Than Your Selfie",  exhibition
Jan 21-May 15, 2016