“Selfie in oil pastels”, by Caron Eastgate Dann
Taking a photo of oneself used to be a) difficult and b) considered distastefully vain (à la that great Aussie saying, “she’s got tickets on herself”).
These days, however, it’s a selfie world.
I don’t paint many portraits, but my new oil pastels seemed to be crying out for a face to settle themselves upon and become just that. So who better to sit for me than… me?
Actually, I used a photo as a reference. Isn’t it strange how we know ourselves better than anyone else in the world, have looked at ourselves in the mirror virtually every day for *ahem* years, and yet…few of us could paint ourselves from memory.
So it’s a bit like painting a stranger, in a way. There’s the temptation, too, to fix things—make the eyes a little bigger, the face a little thinner, the skin a little smoother.
But then, I wouldn’t want to be accused of vanity. In fact, earlier in the painting my husband commented that I was making my face “a bit too fat”. Happy to sort that out, I was!
I’ve never been much of a chocolate eater in adulthood. The odd Cadbury’s Milk Tray soft centre at Christmas or chocolate egg at Easter would pass my lips, but that was about it, unless it was my lifelong favourite, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which until recently, I could buy only when I visited the US.
Lately, however, I’ve taken to having a couple of squares of chocolate with my nightly cup of tea, last thing when I’m reading in bed.
Wow, has chocolate come on in the last couple of decades! Who knew? Everyone except me, it seems.
I’ve had crème brûlée flavour, cookies and cream, dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, dark chocolate with sea salt, milk chocolate with salted caramel, dark chocolate with ginger and dark chocolate with lime and chili. The choices are endless.
Chocolate has become so exotic. In my childhood, the most exotic it got was the family-size block of Cadbury’s milk chocolate that my parents occasionally bought as a treat to be shared among the family after dinner, probably on a Saturday night. This block cost the enormous sum of 50c (five times my weekly pocket money in the 1970s).
We shared the chocolate evenly between the four of us, and I would infuriate my brother by making mine last all evening, or even having some left, in its silver wrapping, for next day. He and my dad would scoff their shares immediately and then be looking for more, and I’m sure Mum lost half of hers. But I jealously guarded mine, loving the feeling of envious eyes on chocolate they would never get.
My late dad was a dentist, so we weren’t allowed to eat much candy. But chocolate wasn’t too bad, he said, as long as you cleaned your teeth after eating it.
Dad wouldn’t be too happy if he knew the guilty secret I’m about to confide: sometimes, these days, I don’t clean my teeth after drinking my tea and eating my chocolate in bed at night!