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A portrait: composure and compassion

Mudito Drope, an artist in Gibsons, BC, recently asked me if I wanted to pose for a colour portrait. Flattered, I said, “Sure.” When I asked: “Why me?” she replied: “You have an interesting face.” (That’s better than what one ex-boyfriend told me: that I had an “unfinished face.”  I’m still not sure what he meant by that, but I’ve never forgotten the term.)


While posing in Mudito’s studio, I thought it would be tough to remain in the same position, but it wasn’t. I treated the exercise like an open-eyed meditation and had no problem lasting longer than Mudito’s suggested 20-minute increments. The time from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with a break for lunch, went by really quickly.


For some of that time, we listened to a tape of Bill Moyers interviewing Karen Armstrong about the societal need for compassion and tolerance, and about the Charter for Compassion, which Armstrong helped to forge. The charter states: “We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world.” It also declares:

“Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”

The charter ends with this: “Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”


I found Moyers’ and Armstrong’s conversation inspirational and easy to absorb while staying still. During my sit, a crow landed on a branch close to the studio window and a pesky flicker tapped away at the outside wall of Mudito’s wooden, board-and-batten home.


By the time that I left at about 1:30, Mudito hadn’t finished the portrait, but was well through it. I thought that I looked severe and sad in it, but it definitely looked like me. Besides, I was feeling sad that day, concerned about my father, who was in the hospital with a number of serious medical issues.


It was intriguing to watch Mudito in her focused process and to see the colour palette that she uses on faces when doing portraits. On some of her paintings of people, she includes a phrase, an idea that I love. I suggested that she use “Bring a voice to what lies hidden,” which has been a creative theme for me for years and fuels my current memoir writing and SoulCollage work.


Mudito now has her first solo exhbition of portraits at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery, which will be on display until May 31. Check them out and enjoy.

April 25, 2010 at 3:01 pm
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