Posted by: Marshall Sponder | February 17, 2008

My new Self Portrait

Just when I’m ready to throw in the towel, I end up doing some of my best work – that makes it confusing to me to know when I should “push” myself to paint and when just to go with the flow.

Here’s my latest Self Portrait – a painting I did tonight and whose twittering appears in a post on Artnewyorkcity titled: Self Portrait – is it my creation or is the painting creating me?

Marshall Sponder Self Portrait 2-18-08

Marshall Sponder – Self Portrait – Oil Pastel on Canvas Paper 18″ x 24″ 2/16/08

Here’s a twitter stream that I blogged earlier this evening – I published the stream first on

I painted a self portrait tonight at my studio in Brooklyn, it’s one of my best – will post to later.

Occasionally, when I feel like I just want to give up painting, I end up doing some of my best work. I have debated if I put in enough time to have a studio space worthwhile, lucky if I make it over here once a week. I could come over more often but then I’d have to party less at art openings, opting to go make art instead of attending openings.

But part of me is restless; I can’t seem to live with the solitude Art demands. It’s as if I need to be around where “it’s happening”, absorbing and synthesizing of the crowd. Being alone, like I was tonight, is ok from time to time, but more often I’d rather be around people and that’s the conflict in my nature that makes me question if I could really be a successful visual artist. Visual artists, unlike musicians and dancers, usually require solitude and isolation to create…and I fear isolation and then, just as I’m ready to give it all up, some energy jumps out of me and takes over, and I am hanging on for the ride.

I feel, at times like this, as if my life energy jumps into the work I’m doing…and creating the work is not at all like most people think it’s as if every stroke is its own composition and the result is subtle symphony made up of thousands of strokes that reverberate. But there’s no words that actually describe this process…though I believe this makes paintings have a life of their own and allow viewers to feel the art speaks to them, even hundreds of years later.

Tonight, as I was finishing my self portrait I experience a curious sensation, that my portrait seemed to be “thinking”, as if part of me was trapped in the painting, and the painting was looking out at me.. Eerie…the I comforted myself by telling myself that I’m the creator, though part of me wondered if the painting was the reality and I was the creation.

Oh well, it makes a good story, esp. when alone in a big studio with the eerie feeling of presences…and then I left to go home and I stopped to have coffee and some blueberry pie, a reward for having done something right in my life, a life filled with wrongs and misunderstandings, where so much of my life is not quite as I’d want it but that I have the ability and this point in my life to capture all these sensations both in words and paint

If all else in my doesn’t quite work, at least this part does, and I got better as – got older now I need to go home and post that painting on and

That’s the whole Twitter stream – I did my best to color correct the photo I took to be as close to the original as possible.

The only additional thing I’d say about the painting is that I seem to be painting a little bit of my own isolation, dissatisfaction and emptiness.

Tired now, I think it’s time for bed.



  1. Impressive.

  2. Thanks Bryan!

  3. Marshall, this is amazing. I had no idea you even painted. It’s so funny how we all think we really know each other because we share a common industry and vocation and then realize that as people we often don’t know each others’ true passions.

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