Inspired by a recent drawing in which I bear a very strong resemblance to my mother, I took out her winter coat, the one she loved because she saved up for so long to get it. She died too young, when I was just finishing up college, and the coat was barely worn. And yet I cannot wear it - my arms are too long, for starters. So it sits, nearly 'new', in my closet. This morning I put on the coat and started to draw. My emotions were conflicted, and I worked nearly all day - breaking only for some chocolate for lunch (which was not such a bad thing) until I had to go pick up the kids. Even still, the drawing haunted me, as it remained at that earlier stage, way too dark. I took an eraser to a large part of it after putting the kids to sleep, and the paper started tearing off; this I liked and kept it.
12.19.12, self portrait in my mother's coat with yellow scarf, graphite, gold epoxy paint and chalk
12x15", ©Karen Kaapcke 2012
I woke up, thinking - what to do today? What does one do when one turns 50? My paints were in my studio, but the only thing that made any sense was to sit myself down right away, and take a good honest look at myself before I had any time to think. I found a watercolor block, and my drawing box and thus began a project of drawing myself every day for my 50th year. To live 50 as a painter, taking a good look each day, whether I have 2 minutes or an hour, and whether I want to or not. And in the way that iterations are not just repetitions but change due to the very fact of being repeated, I will live the year of 50.
Karen Kaapcke, September 2012
The Continuation: I have noticed in this, my 51st year, that I am more my body than ever. Yet I was suddenly barely recognizing it. The need to look at it and 'lean in' with it, to work with it, has become central. As a result, my body is becoming more my own. And more universally representative of the need to be present physically in a way that most women find only happens in the younger, sexy years. 51 = drawing the body.
Karen Kaapcke 3.30.13
A few years later, and I looked into the mirror - and was struck by how foreign my belly was to me. I still don't recognize myself.
Karen Kaapcke 9.20.16