Never underestimate the power of excessive cheerleading! Thank you.
You comments have given me encouragement when I needed it most. Well timed, my dear.
Funny that you should mention the portrait because I learned from my mistakes that way, too. Family members are often not interested in being subjects in an artist sibling's work. In one of my first personal essays published online, I created an argument for my thesis around conversations that took place. One sibling mentioned her disapproval "that really happened" I think she said, but she was unaware that I'd written the piece, then made telephone calls sharing my thesis (that Sara Ban Breathnach's best-selling book was built on Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" (without credit, which is what bugged me about it) and included many of the same quotations, which seemed an unlikely coincidence), and looking for feedback. I was testing my theory for reaction.
In short, I needed a storyline, a narrative, to wrap my thesis around. It was silly, sure, but I was a greenhorn, a novice. I had to rely on personal experience to some extent.
They must have felt naked. I may have, too, had the situation been reversed.
Is your brother talking to you, yet?
My mother told me that she thought a poem that appeared in one of my poetry chapbooks was about her. I didn't deny it too much because isn't that what we want as artists? Don't we want our audience to see themselves in our work? Isn't is supposed to be a reflection?
Ask your brother that. If he believes that it's his face, tell him the truth. Tell him that it's what you thought you'd look like as a man.
It's your story.