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self portrait – pencil and self-deception, 2015

November 16, 2015

I have always struggled to draw faces. And there is one I find particularly challenging.


Self portrait November 2015Drawing someone else’s face is difficult but it isn’t challenging. They look how they look and when I do try to draw them it doesn’t worry me that much that my attempts to capture a likeness on paper falls well short.

We are very comfortable looking at someone else and drawing our own conclusions about what motivates them, their values, how they show up in the world, whether they have two faces or just one. Sure it can be difficult and sometimes we get it wrong but that doesn’t really matter, the picture we create of them will do for today.

Drawing a self-portrait however, requires that I actually spend some time looking at my own face – the one I have spent more time with than any other but have spent the least amount of time observing. It doesn’t look like I imagine it to look (or how I want it to look if the truth be told). My forehead seems too big – even when it sits between the enormity of my ears.

Self portrait, 2009Sitting in front of the mirror with pencil in hand I have to continually remind myself to draw what I see, not what I wished I saw. Looking at the page and not the mirror, I have to fight the urge to add lines, to make things smaller or bigger, to simplify or change the relationship between parts of me that cannot be changed. There is nowhere to hide – I am as I appear to be.

Even harder still is sitting down in front of a different kind of mirror, the mirror provided by the people we live with, the people we work with. Seeing ourselves reflected through their eyes we start to notice that we don’t look to them like we imagine we do (or how we want to look if the truth be told).

And here too we need to remind ourselves to create the picture from what they show us, not what we want to see. It is difficult to resist the urge to add a more truthful mouth or make our ego bigger or smaller than it actually is, to simplify or change the relationship between them and us.

We need the courage to create a picture of what is and to put down on paper what they say they see, even though there are many things about ourselves that we might want to change, and could change, but haven’t.

Once you are able to do that the real work can begin.


If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

I participated in the Samurai Game workshop Paul facilitated and I highly recommend it. I found it to be an exceptional opportunity to learn more about who you are as a person and how you behave/respond to different situations and events that you have no control over. You think you know how you will behave/respond, […]

Jodie Farthing (Environmental Advisor)

Paul facilitated the Samurai Leadership Challenge with the graduating Bond University 2011 MBA class. Compelled by the Samurai values and continuously challenged by Paul in his role as the unfair and capricious Fate of War, my team & I pushed personal boundaries to acknowledge, adapt and compensate for both self & team limitations. In the […]

Priya Natasen (Project Manager – Supply Chain & Finance)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

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