Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 40

I'm gonna be honest here: I had no desire to make any kind of art tonight. It simply just wasn't in me at all. And while the drawing is okay, I'm not in love with it. But even if the artwork itself doesn't move me, I did come to a few realizations.

First of all, it reminded me of something that I was fully aware of even way back on Day One: over a full year, there will be days like this. When it comes down to it, a person simply has to make the best of it. And sometimes a drawing might have to be made in a short time - just to get it in. On the other hand, as I've shown with a few portraits, sometimes a person is extremely motivated to make art, but it just doesn't work out well. Art-making can sure be a crazy thing!!

This portrait was also a bit unique in the sense that I drew directly in pen with no pre-drawing in pencil as I usually do. However, in looking at the past several portraits, it occurs to me that I've become a little reliant on this medium. For that reason, I'm considering myself "grounded" from the pen at least for a couple days!!

#40 November 29, 2010,  Pen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 39

Today was not the best day, for various reasons. The idea for this portrait came to me when I was pondering just how quickly I could make the day end - and then simply try again tomorrow.

Then I received a message through my youngest daughter Emma - someone had asked her how I was doing lately and she also asked Emma to tell me hello. I won't get into details, other than to say that while I have very few regrets about my life, I DO regret that this wonderful lady is someone that I no longer get to see with any regularity. Sometimes a small gesture like that (and in reality maybe it's not THAT small) can really brighten a person's day.

And for several other reasons, the day HAS gotten better...

#39 November 28, 2010,  Pen
Sounds: Jackson Browne, The Very Best of Jackson Browne

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 38

I don't really think there's a lot to say about today's portrait. While I like it a lot, there's not an extreme "angle" on this one like some recent portraits have had. When it comes down to it, I suppose I could say that I got the idea when a little birdie told me...

#38 November 27, 2010,  Pen
Sounds: Drive-By Truckers, A Blessing And A Curse

Day 37

Back when I was in college, I spent way too much money on a pinball machine called "Funhouse." It featured the head of a a ventriloquist dummy named Rudy, who repeatedly insulted the game-player. Although I loved my classes and the whole college experience, the memories wouldn't be complete without Rudy.

There's also a great Twilight Zone episode called "The Dummy," in which a ventriloquist dummy ultimately trades places with his controller. I like the fact that the dummy is the one who wins in the end.

I think sometimes people feel a little controlled by other people or by certain situations in general. I know I've had that feeling many times throughout my life. And while I can't personally relate to that situation right now, it is also part of most people's experiences that cannot be ignored.

#37 November 26, 2010,  Pen and colored pencil
Sounds: Big Smith, Big Smith

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 36

As I worked on today's self-portrait, I came to a pretty sobering realization: I'd probably be sharing a bigger part of myself than I had on the previous pieces in this project. And while I was fully aware that I could always do a different drawing or painting and no one would ever know, I didn't want to. Most people who "know" me, know that I can be a pretty emotional person - a trait that is sometimes good, and sometimes not so great.

It's a sad thing when a person looks in the mirror and realizes that they may not like the person who is looking back at them. I think we all have some things about ourselves that we wish we could change. In my case, I know I can be pretty overbearing in certain situations, which at times makes me seem like - for lack of a better word - an asshole.

That's something that I'd really like to change...

#36 November 25, 2010,  Pen on paper
Sounds: Ryan Adams, Gold

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 35

I loved yesterday's portrait so much that I decided to stay within the same materials and the same style. I think this one is even better...

#35 November 24, 2010,  Acrylic on wood panel
Sounds: Tool,  Aenima

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 34

This is getting pretty fun!  I will say that this painting turned out looking very different than I had originally planned, in part because it wasn't supposed to be a painting in the first place.  I had an original idea for a black and white image, then I thought I'd add a bit of a spot color, then it turned into a full color painting.  I'm sure glad it became what it did!

When it comes down to it, you shouldn't look too hard for a meaning.  I like whimsy, I like silliness.  Yes, there's probably a meaning behind this one, but I'm a little unsure what it is.  And while I still find that a little strange at times, it's a concept that I have come to embrace.  I love the fact that an idea can just pop into my head (or in this case, it can evolve from a different starting place) and I am so moved by it that I don't NEED to understand it.

#34 November 23, 2010,  Acrylic and charcoal on wood panel
Sounds: BR549, Tangled in the Pines

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 33

I'm not sure at what point it occurred to me that this was one of those drawings, one of those that I would really love. I think it was around the time that I did the original drawing and was doing the three tracings off of that one - about that time I realized that this one was gonna be good. And even better: I was having a blast!

When I was working on a drawing last week, I had the idea to do a "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" theme. I will admit, however, that it is something of a cliche. But a couple days ago when a friend suggested I do that theme, I figured that was now two of us that thought it might be a good idea! I know there are some who will be surprised that it took this long for a blindfolded character to make an appearance in one of these self-portraits, since that's a very common visual that I use in my paintings. At any rate, I tried to portray each of these elements in a way that was maybe a little different than I had seen them done before.

#33 November 22, 2010,  Pen on paper
Sounds: The Avett Brothers, Emotionalism

Day 32

So, today Shana showed me some blogs that she's been following lately. I got a kick out of the illustrations on one of the sites, and realized that they were most likely very easily done on the basic "Paint" program that comes on all computers. Since it had been a long time since I'd messed around with that, I figured it was a good time to see what I could come up with. Obviously it's not terribly easy to draw using the mouse (at least for me), but I like the loose qualities to this drawing.

#32 November 21, 2010,  Digital creation
Sounds: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,  Damn The Torpedoes [Deluxe Edition]

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 31

This self-portrait is a bit momentous for a couple reasons. First of all, I've admittedly not been too happy with the past few days' works. Once I got this one going, I knew it was a little bit special and I was immediately pleased with it - even while it was still in progress. The second thing is actually related to the first: I "enjoyed" making this artwork, which was something that I hadn't felt the past couple days either.

It's nice to feel like I'm back on track again...

#31 November 20, 2010,  Ebony pencil
Sounds: Motley Crue, Saints of Los Angeles

Day 30

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of my girls last night. It all started when I told them how I'd love to have the hair of a particular rock star. And they disagreed.

At any rate, it got me thinking about how fun it would be to alter my appearance - perhaps on a daily basis. So this particular self-portrait is a take on that sort of thing.

#30 November 19, 2010,  Pen on paper
Sounds: The Beatles, The Beatles 1

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 29

I'm gonna be honest: I really don't like today's drawing. When I started this project, I took a lot time to think it through and predict any problems that might arise. One of those instances happened during the making of this drawing: I simply ran out of time. I had big plans for a different artwork (one that I've been pining to do for the past three days and still WILL do), but the only explanation for what happened is that LIFE happened. There was dinner to be made, kids to be picked up from basketball practice, and so on and so on.

I originally told myself that throughout this project, there might be some drawings are completed in only five minutes due to time constraints (and yes, this one DID take longer than that), but I may not always be pleased with the results. One thing that I remember from my college days was when a professor told our class that as artists, 90% of what we make will be crap! And while I tend to believe that her number was extremely high, she made a good point that should always be remembered: as much as we may try otherwise, each artwork will not always be better than the previous one. This is a fact that artists must live with all the time. That doesn't mean we have to like it, though...

#29 November 18, 2010,  Colored pencil on black paper

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 28

Simple math:

A bad mood + Marilyn Manson + Beer = One pissed off looking drawing!

#28 November 17, 2010,  Ebony pencil
Sounds: Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 27

It was one of those nights. I had a clear idea of what today's portrait would look like, but there was one problem: I simply didn't have the time to dedicate to making THAT artwork right now. So I stared at a blank piece of white paper while listening to tonight's choice of music, Jeff Black's Birmingham Road. The CD includes a great song called "That's Just About Right." It wasn't long before my hand started moving and I had this drawing completed!

My old friend lives up in the mountains
He flew up there to paint the world
He says "Even though interpretation's what I count on,
This little picture to me seems blurred.
Hard lines and the shadows come easy,
I see it all just as clear as a bell;
I just can't seem to set my easel to please me,
I paint my heaven and it looks like hell.
Is it me or is my vision jaded?
If i ask you, will you tell me true?"
I say "No and yes, I think the world you've painted
It's just the way that it appears to you."

Oh, your blue might be gray, your less might be more,
Your window to the world might be the big front door;
Your shinest day might come in the middle of the night
That's just about right.

He says "Man I ain't coming down until my picture is perfect
And all the wonder has gone from my eyes;
Down through my hands and on to the canvas
Still like my vision but still a surprise.
Still life," he says, "is the hardest impression:
It's always moving so I just let it come through."
"And that, my friend," I say, "is the glory of true independence -
Just to do what you do what you do what you do..."

"I don't think people's visions get jaded
I think the times change and so does the truth
So in that I think the world you've painted
Is just the way that it appears to you."

We ended our talk on how many friendships had faded,
And nowadays what makes a picture seem real
Are the simpler versions and not complicated.
"Thanks for the brushes man, I'll see you next year..."
So let's roll on, we know what we're here for:
Souvenirs of all that we've seen.
So write a story, paint yourself and paint the town;
When you look around you know where you've been.
If you wonder if your vision is jaded,
You just ask someone who will tell you true:
One true friend who sees all that you've painted,
Say "Hey man, that looks just like you..."

(I don't mind shamelessly promoting a great artist: Jeff Black is a fantastic songwriter and a really great guy. Check out his music when you get a chance!)

#27 November 16, 2010,  Charcoal and conte on paper
Sounds: Jeff Black, Birmingham Road

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 26

I think it's a good thing to know one's weaknesses or faults. Several years ago, I was playing a party game with some close friends. A deck of cards contained several character traits, and when one was drawn the object was for each person to name who in the room they felt the card most accurately described.

One card contained the phrase "You ask this person what time it is, and they proceed to explain to you how to build a clock." I distinctly remember being completely shocked that all of my friends chose me as the person the card described. (To be fair to myself, it was actually a tie between me and my great friend Maggie!) Surely I didn't ramble on THAT much . . . did I?

It's funny how things stick with you. This game was played on an ordinary evening nearly 20 years ago, but I still remember my reaction. I absolutely do not hold a grudge against my friends because it was all in good fun. But anytime I catch myself going on and on . . . and on . . . about particular topic, I often think about that night and occasionally whisper to myself "Shut up, Watch-Maker"!

# 26 November 15, 2010,  Pen
Sounds: Cross Canadian Ragweed, Happiness and All The Other Things [15th Anniversary Deluxe Limited Edition]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 25

One of my favorite benefits of making a self-portrait is that the artist has absolute control over the situation. The is no complaining about holding a pose for too long, there is no need to ask the model to "move just a bit to the left," and the artist decides exactly what the face will look like.

I wanted to do something just a bit different today, both in the facial expression and in the process itself. I also continue to be excited when I have an idea in mind for what the artwork could look like, but then the ultimate outcome changes (for the better) as the artistic process unfolds.

#25 November 14, 2010,  Pen on paper
Sounds: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Last DJ

Day 24

There is no deep story to today's portrait. It all came to me when I received an amazing kiss...

I should also mention that idea for the hole in the stomach owes a huge debt to the art of Tara McPherson - I'm a very big fan of hers. 

#24 November 13, 2014,  Watercolor and pen
Sounds: Jane's Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 23

This portrait is obviously a continuation of yesterday's thought. I was enjoying the self-portrait that I had made and reflecting on my comments that accompanied it, and I was moved to make a similar image for today. As I said previously, one of the benefits of cutting a stencil is that it can be re-used many times over. I had already cut stencils of Abraham Lincoln and Conway Twitty (as well as Fonzie, Venus Flytrap, and Johnny Nogarelli . . . if you know your pop culture!), so I figured that I should use those again for a self-portrait!

For the record, those stencils were cut for a series that I completed entitled "The Purveyors of Cool." The image of Abraham Lincoln, despite all of his greatness as an American president, has become somewhat kitsch; and all of those other guys? Well, they're cool in a very strangely uncool way!

#23 November 12, 2010,  Spray paint and acrylic
Sounds: Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 22

This portrait is quite different from any of the others thus far...the creation of the actual artwork itself took less than 15 minutes. However, it's worth mentioning that the preparation work for this piece took approximately two hours!

A couple years ago, I really got into the art of Shepard Fairey. For those that don't recognize the name, he's the guy that created the famous Barack Obama "Hope" image. It was at that time that I began experimenting with hand-cut stencils and spray paint - the paintings that I created at the time were what I called "diversion pieces" that kept me occupied while I was on a creative slump with my usual painting style. I discovered that while the process of cutting the stencils was extremely tedious, the ultimate results were pretty fun and made some interesting images.

A nice side benefit is that the stencils can be re-used over and over, which makes the process a little more bearable. The ghost image on the upper right was made by shifting the stencil and lightly misting the painting with some white spray paint.

#22 November 11, 2010,  Spray paint and acrylic on bristol board

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 21

Early on in this project, it was suggested to me that my self-portraits were too dark, too brooding. I was encouraged to show the "real me." And I'll admit that in person I am usually far from serious; I love to joke around with pretty much anyone and everyone, my language consists of a plethora of movie quotes, and I regularly use the words "dude" and "awesome."

Despite the encouragement, the past few days' whimsical self-portraits are not made of a conscious decision. In fact, they're more of a natural progression in this project. In this case, the idea emerged when several comments were made about a facebook status I posted about the phrase "Liar, Liar, pants on fire." What the hell, I decided to run with it!

#21 November 10, 2010,  Watercolor and pen
Sounds: Gas Giants, From Beyond the Back Burner

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 20

One phrase that I seem to use a lot is "I'm not a mind reader". I was thinking about that earlier today and this image popped into my mind - almost exactly as the finished product appears.

As I've mentioned before, I am a firm believer that a self-portrait doesn't necessarily have to be a mirror image of the artist. This piece is definitely me because of both some physical traits and a few symbolic "likenesses." And, it's been a lot of fun using color the past couple days...

#20 November 9, 2010,  Watercolor and pen
Sounds: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY

Day 19

When it comes to art-making, I've always been a traditionalist. In fact, I've recently spent a lot of time attempting to break the bonds of "plain-ness" and take chances with new materials, either on their own or in conjunction with others. The mediums I used today, while they are very common, are not generally used together to create portraits. And I think it goes without saying that the visual is quite different from what I've been producing in this series.

This process all began about a year ago when one of my students and I were discussing how it was very difficult for each of us to create abstract art, given our natural proclivity to produce realism. After a long conversation, we challenged each other to work in a looser, more non-representational manner. The good news is that we were each relatively successful with our results, and we each felt an artistic burden lifted from our shoulders!

For me, "the self-portrait project" has many reasons and purposes. Of course, by repetition I would expect for my drawing skills to grow exponentially. On the other hand - and perhaps more importantly - I'm excited to see what possibilities I can discover as the project develops...

#19 November 8, 2010,  Spray paint, Sharpie markers, watercolor
Sounds: Duran Duran, Decade: Greatest Hits

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 18

After the past couple days, I knew I had to do something a little special - if only for myself. I'll admit that I've not been too pleased with my last couple self-portraits, mostly due to the fact that I simply didn't physically feel like making art. I am happy, however, that this happened early in this project as a test for myself, simply to see if I could remain motivated in the face of illness. Ironically, I had some people say that the past two self-portraits were among their favorites!

For today's portrait, I went back to the basics in many ways. As a kid, I was a huge fan of Star Wars and had all of the action figures. I thought it might be fun to draw myself in that style. And as a means of inspiration, I pulled out my favorite "art-making CD", Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything?" The result is a drawing that I'm very pleased with, and I feel like I'm now back on track!

#18 November 7, 2010,  Pencil
Sounds: Todd Rundgren, Something / Anything
  (Disc 1)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 17

This cold is hanging on for another day. There are a couple things that I know that I should really put into action. First, when I don't feel so great, I KNOW it gets worse in the evenings...so I should complete my drawing earlier in the day. Second, the lesson I learned yesterday about smiling when drawing was something I apparently forgot for this piece. Perhaps I should've started with another shape that resembles a piece of candy...that seemed to make me laugh yesterday!

#17 November 6, 2010,  Pen on paper

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 16

I've gotta be honest: I don't feel so well today. I have a scratchy throat and have been coughing most of the day. So when the time came to begin the self-portrait, I wasn't really in the mood. But with a mirror in front of me, I pressed on.

It's a well-known trick of drawing to render a detailed subject first in the simplest of forms and build from there. It occurred to me that the very basic shape of my head is triangular, so I drew a shape that resembled a piece of candy corn (something that I consider, ironically, to be one of the most vile candies ever)! Making this comparison brought a big smile to my face, and as more and more features were added, it became obvious that today's self-portrait would be more of a caricature than anything.

And in the long run, it made me feel just a little better...

#16 November 5, 2010,  Ebony pencil

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 15

As I've said before, I love it when everything just comes together. I actually was pretty sure what today's drawing would be and was all set to begin working on it. Just then I noticed a make-up mirror in the house - one of those with the light that circles the mirror. I looked at my image and was immediately taken aback by the amazing round reflections on my eyes. So, quick change of plan and now the original idea that I had for today will have to wait for another time!

I'm also a big fan of drawings with no clear boundaries, so I left all of that out this time, instead focusing on just the facial features. The result is pretty interesting.

#15 November 4, 2010,  Pencil, ebony pencil
Sounds: A Fine Frenzy, One Cell in the Sea


I sure love it when I get introduced to fantastic music that is new to me. I asked my girlfriend (who has amazing taste in music) to choose from her half of our colelction what I would listen to while working on today's portrait. I had never heard this particular artist before, but I will certainly return!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 14

I am absolutely fascinated by what some artists can do with a can of spray paint. I've used the medium several times with varying degrees of success, and I certainly plan to use it many more times as this project continues. For today's portrait, I simply used it as a means to create a very quick and loose background.

One thing that was interesting about today's art-making process is that I was actually quite frustrated with my artwork at one point. In fact, I was so irritated that I actually swiped my hand across the wet paint on the face and smeared it! At that moment, it seemed as though I had a new lease on the portrait - that I could do whatever I liked because the artwork was already "ruined" and I was sure that I would actually start again on a different artwork. Sometimes an artist is so worried that they'll "mess up" on a project that they're afraid to take any chances on it. Since I believed that this portrait was already a lost cause, I had no problem experimenting with technique, color, style, etc. In the end, it was that experimentation that led to a fairly decent work of art.

#14 November 3, 2010,  Spray paint and acrylic on bristol board
Sounds: Chris Whitley, Living With the Law

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 13

It was a nice change of pace to use some color today. I'm a big fan of working monchromatic and the red-violet pencil is one of my favorite colors. So I suppose it's no wonder that my expression changed a little as well!

#13 November 2, 2012,  Prismacolor
Sounds: U2, Achtung Baby