Self Portrait

This week, an idea that has been bobbing about in my mind for a while now without form or structure. I’ve tried to realise it here but I’m not sure about the result; it will be interesting to hear your opinions.

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields






Salvin writhed in his slumber, trapped in a painting. He knew it from the thick black outline round his shape; the mirror, creased in the middle and suspended from a  staircase sweeping to infinity on the neck of a frightened horse.
The sun burnt fiercely with the promise inherent in bright colours waning to the calm of cobalt. Yet where he stood was arid.
Time dripped blood-like from a broken watch caught in the gnarled fingers of a dead tree. He recognised the tree in the mirror.
Snatching up brushes and violent hues, he lunged at the canvas and began, “Self-Portrait.”

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

(A short explanation: Van Gogh would often include a dead or dying flower or branch  to represent himself in his paintings and obviously symbolism pervades most art. Here we’re supposed to be in an artist’s dream.)

56 thoughts on “Self Portrait

  1. Don’t you just adore Salvador! I am wondering whether the painting in the tale was created following a dream of his or whether your story is fiction, maybe from your own dreams. Either way it is exquisite and I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’ve managed to achieve a good surreal story with your concept. Some of your sentences are very memorable, for example, “Time dripped blood-like from a broken watch.”
    It seems to me that it could have enormous potential if you based a longer piece, or pieces, on it. It has many elements that can be treated dialectically for example freedom/captivity; self/image; finite and bounded/infinite reflections. And, of course, depending upon how much you know about art, you can allude to a millennium of visual art in the western tradition. Fantastically rich material!
    Great concept, very good story!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, thank-you very much for a great comment. I was trying to include elements of several paintings to avoid making it about a particular artist but have him trapped in his art and emotion, then the explosion of it coming out in his work. It was fun to write but difficult to be satisfied with. Difficult to be sure whether or not it worked in the final analysis.


  3. Michael, I really loved this and your writing is just beautiful, especially for a lover of words and images. I don’t know if you saw that I’v been writing a series of letters to dead artists for my 2018 A-Z April Challenge theme. I think you might enjoy some of the artists I’ve covered…Dali, Van Gogh etc.
    I stumbled across some very interesting links as well. I also came across a great movie which animates Van Gogh’s paintings…”Loving Vincent”. Have you seen it? It’s brilliant.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I’ll revisit your posts. I have the DVD of Loving Vincent and loved it. In fact I only buy DVDs if I really want to watch something over and over and that is definitely that I will. I found it a very interesting and thought provoking way of making the film. Last year I spent some time in Arles touring the places VG frequented and that helped with understanding the man and his paintings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank, Michael. I’m much the same as you with DVDs. I don’t own many, although my husband’s bought a few. I also thought the film was very clever and it brought many things to life for me. Although the Yellow House was destroyed, I’d also love to get to Arles and look around, particularly after watching the movie and doing this research. I really watched to retrace that final period in his life. I agreed with the film makers too that his death was suspicious and it’s almost like revisiting the scene, even so long after the fact, might turn up a clue. Something they missed. Some evidence stashed away in a French farmhouse to this day.
        Best wishes,

        Liked by 1 person

        • There’s obviously a lot of traffic there now, the place would have been quieter in his day but other than the Yellow House it’s all there for you to trace. So sad he died so early and before proper recognition, even worse if his death was suspicious and not suicide or even accidental suicide.


  4. I feel there’s a lot of energy and emotional power in the imagery you use. Found I couldn’t really follow the story line, for example, not clear what part the mirror played. Seems full of potential to me and an interesting idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The mirror was creased which a mirror can only be in a painting or dream and in the mirror was reflected the tree, which was dead, but he saw the reflection as himself and hence started painting a self-portrait. This alludes to Van Gogh including dead flowers and branches as representations of himself in his paintings. Thanks for reading.


  5. I love both Van Gogh and Dali but I did see more of Salvador in the piece than Vincent. There is a definite reference to Persistence of Memory. An interesting interpretation of the prompt. Well done.


    • Thank -you for the comment and apologies for the late reply, I didn’t see it come in. Although I was trying to make it about as many artists and none specifically I suppose it was inevitable that certain paintings and artists would come through above others.


  6. What a great, intense, surrealistic dream. I suppose everyone who does something with great intensity works through it in dreams. And what a unique take on the prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

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