Friday, October 21, 2011

THIS IS IT!! Day 3-6-5!!!

I've been considering what sort of comments I would make to commemorate this day and this one last artwork in the self-portrait project. It's so hard to believe that 365 days have gone by - an entire year - since I started this project. What started out as nothing more than a way to motivate myself to do one of the things I do best - to make art - has grown to something that has been a constant presence in my life.

I have known for some time that I wanted to do something a little special for the final self-portrait. Initially, I thought that I might allow myself to break those self-imposed rules and actually spend several days working on this last piece. I also considered several different viewpoints, themes, name it and I probably considered it as a possibility. When it really came down to actually making the artwork, however, the one recurring thing that has shadowed me nearly every day of the past year reared its ugly head once again: the elusiveness of enough hours in the day.

Many things conspired to lead me to create this painting in one setting, but I do feel a sense of comfort knowing that I worked in my element - that place where I have created nearly every successful artwork throughout my life: at the very last possible moment.  I began the painting around 11:00 pm and added the final brushstroke nearly four and a half hours later in the early morning hours.  I realize that other artists will find this practice to be nothing special or out of the ordinary, but I have some incredibly fond life-long memories of making art into the wee hours of the morning.  To take it a step further, while I know that not all artists are night owls, I think that a great deal of time working in solitude certainly is a common trait that we share.  While the life of creative type people is often a lonely one in many respects, I personally think it's a wonderful bond to share with other artists.

I know I'll catch a little hell for the expression I'm wearing in this painting.  "Why couldn't you paint yourself smiling?"  The answer is simple enough: it was late, I was tired, and I was weary from a full year of self-portraits!

So it's with a strange mix of prideful accomplishment and a heavy heart that I complete this project.  It's hard to believe that I don't have to make a self-portrait tomorrow!  I will say, however, that the experience has been incredible and the personal challenge is one that I would accept again without even having to think about it.  Thanks for reading, thanks for looking.  It's been a blast...

#365 October 20, 2011,  Oil on wood panel
Sounds: The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 364

Here's yet another example of a medium that I probably should have worked in much sooner, but simply did not. Sure, there have been a couple instances where I made some type of collage, but certainly nothing like this.

One thing that I have always been drawn to is the red sky. I absolutely love the ominous feel and the surreal quality that it gives, and that's another thing that I'm surprised I haven't used more. On the other hand, this self-portrait gathers several elements that have been staples throughout this project: the blackbirds, the face-making (to an extent), the juxtposition of images, and the overall surreal feeling of the picture.

I should add for clarity's sake that this artwork was not made with the aid of a computer, other than to slightly alter the colors or sharpness of the original photos, and I only used the most basic program for that task. (Yes, I will admit publicly that I am very inept at using photo manipulation programs!) Nope, this collage was made with nothing more than a good old-fashioned X-Acto knife, a glue stick, and lots of patience!

#364 October 19, 2011,  Collage
Sounds: Truth & Salvage Company, Truth & Salvage Co.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 363

I absolutely cannot believe that it took me 363 days to make a self-portrait out of cut paper. I have taught this process for years, and always love the results (both mine and my students'), but for some reason it hadn't occurred to me that to grab some colored paper and make one for this project!

This is one of those instances where I think the scanned image looks better than the original. Perhaps this has something to do with the actual scanning process causing a slight shadow or raised appearance between the layers of paper. Either way, I'm pretty pleased with how it looks and wish I had worked with the material earlier so I'd have time to use it again before the project comes to an end!

#363 October 18, 2011,  Color-aid paper
Sounds: Marvelous 3, Hey, Album!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 362

I wish I had a fabulous story about the origin or the meaning of this self-portrait. When it comes down to it, I had a dollar bill in my hand and the idea sprung from there. Very simple.

The real story (such as it is) is the progression of the style as the drawing progressed. I pretty much knew that I'd work with acrylic for the highlights, but originally I had planned to brush on some ink for the darks. Once I began my preliminary drawing with pencil, it became clear that I'd need to use a pen for the tighter details. But once I got even further, I simply loved how the pencil looked alongside the colors of the cardboard and the pale white paint. So that became my plan as I added darker shades with a common mechanical pencil.

And obviously I stuck with it to the end...

#362 October 17, 2011,  Pencil and acrylic on cardboard
Sounds: Truth & Salvage Company, Truth & Salvage, Co,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 361

It's been awhile since I've started a self-portrait by making faces in the mirror. That's not to say that I've changed my personal outlook; I'm still as goofy as can be. But several of my recent images were made without the benefit of the mirror. Sure, it's more difficult to get a perfect likeness without some sort of visual reference, but some of those drawings were probably more about how I felt, other than what I actually looked like.

So, for this self-portrait, I went back to an old formula that I always enjoyed.  This time, however, I added a new element: my hair has grown long enough that I can get some interesting effects by manipulating the goop I put in there for styling!  It always seems that by the time evening arrives, my hair has been affected by the wind, or by laying on it at some point, or simply by messing with it throughout the day.  And I'll admit rather sheepishly that I'm fascinated by my hair, mainly because I simply cannot keep from adjusting, pulling and plucking with it (this goes for whiskers as well).  While my original intent for creating this unicorn-like horn was to make Shana and Emma laugh (mission accomplished), it occured to me that it would be a fun look for my artwork as well.

#361 October 16, 2011,  Pen on vellum

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 360

I started this drawing with no particular agenda except for one thing: I wanted to portray myself smiling.

It was late and I was beyond tired. It had been a long day that started early, saw lots of miles of highway pass through the windshield, and ended later than I would've liked.

But it was a good day. I might go so far as to say it was a great day. I had a nice visit with one of my closest friends, I accomplished some things around the house, we went to Emma's last game as a 6th grade cheerleader, had a great dinner with friends...the list seems to go on and on!

No, it wasn't the best day ever...not even close. But it's days like this that make life worth living. I'll take more like this one, please...

#360 October 15, 2011,  Pen on vellum

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 359

It's been awhile since I've worked on vellum, and frankly, I've missed it. I really love the texture of the paper and how it reacts with virtually any medium (with maybe the exception of watercolor, which isn't so great!). When I made the very first marks on the paper, I was taken to a place that I love to visit, where I get sucked into art-making and time seems to stand still...

#359 October 14, 2011,  Pen

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 358

Last night, Austin had a particular issue he was dealing with. He said, I think out of sheer frustration, "I just don't know what to say."

My response was maybe a bit of a shock to him, given my penchant for talking things to death: "Sometimes there's nothing that needs to be said."

#358 October 13, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 357

As I sat down to make this self-portrait, I was thinking about the idea of masks and what they can symbolize. While I haven't used this imagery in my art as often as blindfolds, I can appreciate the relationships in their potential meanings. A blindfold can can keep a person from seeing something, while a mask keeps someone else from seeing something.

I don't think I want to wear either one of them...

#357 October 12, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Slipknot, All Hope is Gone

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 356

I have no doubt of one of my worst traits: I tend to take on far more than I can accomplish in a normal day's time. This often makes for long days culminating with me collapsing into bed and falling asleep almost literally the moment my head hits the pillow. This was one of those nights, and this drawing was made only moments before sleep overtook me.

#356 October 11, 2011,  Ballpoint pen
Sounds:  The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 355

It shouldn't come as a surprise for me to reveal that this entire drawing was built around the nose, which was drawn first. In fact, after penciling in the sloping curve of the bridge and then back up to the corner of the nostril, I stopped and carefully considered what to do next. There was no question that the nose would be the dominant feature on the face in the drawing (I like to think that my real nose isn't that prominent!), but I wanted to make sure that the other parts of my face would be well-represented.

I think that the almost beady-looking eyes and the pointed chin make for interesting partners to the nose.  I revisited the thick and loose outlines that I've drawn in so many self-portraits already.  And I loved that little blackbird from last night's drawing so much, I invited it to make another appearance in this one!

#355 October 10, 2011,  Pen

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 354

It has occurred to me several times over the past few weeks that this project is nearly complete. Today's self-portrait addresses the realization that time is literally running out for me. While I will complete this with a sense of fulfillment and a bit of relief, I know that my days are numbered, thus limiting the opportunities to complete the various ideas that I've been putting off.

I'd better get to work!

#354 October 9, 2011,  Pen

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 353

I'm happy to share a little bit more of a straight-forward self-portrait today. No themes. No morose expression. Egads, no birds!

I was relaxing on the sofa at the end of a long day. A cool breeze crept through the open window. My lady was cuddled up beside me with a book on her lap.  What better time to make the day's self-portrait?! So I grabbed an Ebony pencil and my sketchbook and had at it.

The somewhat somber expression on my face betrays my tiredness and the lateness of the hour.  But this was one of those drawings where everything clicked, and I knew from the beginning that I would be awfully pleased with the results...

#353 October 8, 2011,  Ebony pencil

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 352

There's an extreme sadness for a sports fan when their team's season comes to an end. That sadness is amplified when the season ends sooner than anticipated.

Throughout the entire regular season, the Philadelphia Phillies - my Phillies - were the best team in all of baseball. And despite an end of the season slump, they still finished with the best record for the season. So their elimination in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Cardinals brought on an unexpected disappointment to me.

The old saying is sure true: anything can happen in a short series. I still believe that the Phillies are the best team, both with their immensely talented home-grown players and the amazing players brought in by free agency or trade. But regrettably, they just had a rough streak at the worst possible time.

Now...when does Spring Training begin?!

#352 October 7, 2011,  Pen

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 351

The ultimate goal for today's drawing was to include birds in some shape or form. I really wish, however, that I could look back and see the expression on my face at the exact moment that I decided to portray myself like this. Obviously it didn't take me long to realize that the image made me appear to be puking a bunch of little blackbirds!

#351 October 6, 2011,  Pen

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 350

At the end of a long day, there's no telling what my hair will look like. Sometimes I will have worn a hat. Or maybe I've run my fingers through it repeatedly. Or perhaps I've laid down at some point and have a case of bed-head.  No matter what the cause may be, it's usually quite a mess.

This self-portrait was made right near the time I was getting ready for bed. As I looked at my wild locks in the mirror, I thought it might be fun to draw myself this way. Add a funky smile, and I was good to go!

#350 October 5, 2011,  Pen

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 349

I've wanted to do one like this for quite awhile, but I just haven't made myself do it.

My Drawing students and I share a regular joke about my love of shadows. I don't know what it is, but I am absolutely captivated by the effects of light and how it can create dazzling effects with darkness within a composition. For my money, a good shadow within an artwork can turn something that's merely medicore into something outstanding.

I am particularly fond of the extreme light and darks in the paintings of Caravaggio. (The term for this is chiaroscuro, and for the record, it's a damned fun word to say out loud!) I'm pretty pleased with the great contrast that I got in today's self-portrait. As a bit of a preview, this is what I plan to incorporate into my painting style as well.

#349 October 4, 2011,  Charcoal on brown paper bag

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 348

I can appreciate the symbolism of objects like doors, windows, ladders, or anything that could suggest some sort of transition or movement from one place to another. Of course, using the term transition can conger up several different thoughts or ideas as well.  Personally speaking, I think a person is quite irresponsible if they don't allow themself to continually be open to any available emotional, spiritual, or physical transformation.  The obvious caveat, of course, is that this change has to be for the better.  Change simply for the sake of change is rarely a good idea.

This self-portrait was yet another that I really enjoyed making during this entire project in the sense that the image planted itself in my mind, yet I didn't know what it meant to me until the moment I was making marks on the paper.  And as is also the case in many instances, I actually have two or three personal interpretations to this drawing.  While it's certainly not my best artwork, I really like what it means to me.

#348 October 3, 2011,  Ballpoint pen
Sounds: U2, No Line on the Horizon

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 347

Traveling down I-55 through western Illinois, we couldn't help but notice a gigantic smokestack belching a huge plume of smoke into the sky of Springfield. Shana remarked that it appeared surreal in the way that the smoke was almost pure white, and one puff was immediately forced out by the next one, then the next, and so on.

Several thoughts come to mind as I type this regarding what today's self-portrait could mean. If it wasn't a self-portrait, I suppose the most logical interpretation would deal with how mankind deposits endless pollutants into the environment...and the ones responsible for the majority don't seem to be very remorseful about what they're doing to our planet.

But since it IS a self-portrait, then I think I'll just consider it to be a visual document of something I saw as I passed through the countryside...

#347 October 2, 2011,  Ballpoint pen
Sounds:  Butch Walker, Left of Self-Centered

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 346

I'm finding myself very drawn to this self-portrait. Although it bears only a slight resemblance to me, I can appreciate the look of exhaustion I'm wearing in my eyes. I literally collapsed into a hotel chair and grabbed the first marking tool I could find - which turned out to be a ballpoint pen. This came after a marathon five-hour shopping experience in a mammoth furniture store, culminating with Shana and I loading a 12-foot trailer by ourselves in the dark (so much for staying open "until the last customer leaves" as we were told!).

But alas, we made our way to the best pizza place in the world (Giordano's Pizza, located in many locations all over the Chicago area!) and filled up on a fabulous deep dish and some great beers. So while I was pretty tired once I finally had a moment to sit down with my sketchbook, I would say that the day ended pretty nicely after all...

#346 October 1, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 345

I love travel pictures.  Throughout this project, I've been so fortunate to make self-portraits on various vacations in St. Louis and Minneapolis/Wisconsin and even in Mexico.  It's always been a lot of fun, even though the quality of the image hasn't been the best at the time since I never have access to a scanner (taking a photograph never does the image justice!).

Today's self-portrait is a little unique, however.  This is the first of my self-portraits made in a moving vehicle on my way to a destination.  (Rest assured, I wasn't driving!)  The shape of the drawing is that of the mirror on the back side of the sun visor, and the loose line work is the result of, well, the movement of the vehicle on the highway somewhere in western Illinois. 

While it's certainly not my best drawing, it will always hold a lot of significance to me.  Perhaps it was the semi-uniqueness of the drawing.  Or maybe it's because we were on our way to see The Avett Brothers in what proved to be an amazing show in an incredible venue in Chicago.  Or perhaps it was because I had my wonderful lady by my side handling the driving duties.

I think it's most likely all of the above...

#345 September 30, 2011,  Ebony pencil
Sounds: Son Volt, Trace

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 344

I was pretty stoked to make this drawing.  After the horrible quality of yesterday's abomination (um, I meant: self-portrait), I felt a strong desire to redeem myself today.  I can't really say that I pulled out the big guns (so to speak) regarding my tools or processes, but it's certainly a little less than coincidence that I returned to pen for this one.  It should be noted, however, that pen was the secondary material this time; I started with a loose pencil drawing, which was then covered with an ink wash.  The pen was actually added only after the ink had dried.

#344 September 29, 2011,  Ink wash and pen

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 343

I'll admit it: I hit a wall. I was doing so well with the self-portraits lately and it felt damned good to be pleased with my work on an everyday basis. Then life caught up with me, and I do . . . this.

On the other hand, it's proof that everyone has their off days. I'm confident that I'll bounce right back on the next one!

#343 September 28, 2011,  Pen

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 342

Near the beginning of this project, I made a prediction that I would use an Ebony pencil more than any other material. That hasn't exactly been the case, primarily because I fell in love with using both ink and pens; each of those have been my go-to mediums over the past several months.

With that said, I still say that the Ebony pencil is one of my favorite drawing materials. And it's a good thing: when it came time to make this self-portrait, I was not in the mood. I was tired and cranky and I had a headache. I can't really say that any of that changed once I started working, but miraculously, I perservered and finished with a drawing that I'm very happy with.

#342 September 27, 2011,  Ebony pencil

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 341

I've had this image in my head for a few days now, but put it on hold because of other ideas that I felt were either better or ones that I simply had more desire to work on.

Once again, there's a bit of mystery: is the hand releasing the birds or capturing them? I think it could be read either way, and I personally really like the potential symbolism for each possibility.

#341 September 26, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Butch Walker, Letters

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 340

In order to complete this self-portrait, I had to enlist some help. Throughout this project, I've made numerous drawings drawings with voice balloons (usually depicting a statement made by a bird). This time, however, I completely drew a blank at what the bird should be saying.

So I went to class and asked the opinion of my students. Essentially, I asked "What is the bird saying?" And I got so many great answers in return, I decided to present a Top 10 of my favorites!

10. "Why so serious?"

9. " nothing? That's what I thought. Just keep laughing!"

8. "R A W W W W R! . . . peep?"

7. "Are you my mother?"
(With this one, it occurred to me that the bird I drew did bear a slight resemblance to the one in a book by P.D. Eastman...)

6. "Looking good today, jim."

5. "Never more."
(I can certainly appreciate the Edgar Allan Poe reference...)

4. "Furthermore..."
(When I first read this, I did NOT really see it as a Poe reference; I just thought it applied because the bird could appear to be lecturing...)

3. "I am not a bird."
(I really like where this one comes from. In my Art Appreciation class, we spoke about Rene Magritte's painting The Treachery of Images, which is a painting of what looks like a pipe and the words "This is not a pipe." The point is that it really is NOT a pipe: it's an IMAGE of a pipe. I guess this really isn't a bird either...)

2. "Hey man, I just shit on your car."
(This one just made me laugh...)

And the number one answer - which made it onto the actual drawing - reminded me of a Will Ferrell sketch on Saturday Night Live...

#340 September 25, 2011,  Ink wash and pen on wood panel

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 339

It seems like it's been awhile since I've done several of the things that are present in this self-portrait.

I love working in charcoal, which I haven't done for several days.

I love working on colored papar, especially on an ordinary brown paper bag. (The texture is fabulous!)

And Katey asked me to do a self-portrait that was more realistic because some of her favorites throughout this entire project were those that favored realism.

I suppose I can go one step farther and mention that it's obvious on which days I've had more time to make my self-portrait. That's been one thing that should have been predictable when I originally started this project...yet it wasn't. Don't get me wrong: I have still been relatively pleased with all of my artworks, even the vast majority of those on days where I didn't have a large amount of time to devote to art-making. But I really think that in the beginning I expected to be able to work for an extended period of time each day. And regrettably, it didn't work out that way.

But I have made some pretty significant changes in my lifestyle over the past few weeks and have committed to a re-focus toward the things that are truly important (while abandoning those that are utterly meaningless)...and it has made a world of difference. I feel a sense of renewal to be as productive as I have been, and I have no doubt that I will fight like hell to keep the momentum going...

#339 September 24, 2011,  Charcoal on brown paper bag

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 338

I recently made a self-portrait on Day 328 where I displayed my passing interest in astronomy.  While working on that particular drawing, I had the idea for this one.  One thing led to another and I didn't get to follow through with the idea until today.

I really love the questions that ponder what we really are, what our purpose is, where did we come from, how did we get here...and so on.  There is a notion suggesting that our universe could really be just a molecule in someone's fingernail...or that we could have an entire universe on our own fingertip!

#338 September 23, 2011,  Pen, ink wash, and acrylic on bristol board
Sounds:  The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 337

Here's a bit of irony when comparing today's self-portrait and the one from the day before: yesterday's drawing was made hastily because of extreme exhaustion and simply because I didn't want to fall asleep while making it!

This is drawing is different in that, while I was once again very tired prior to sitting down to draw, once I had a pen in my hand, I was wide awake!

More irony: obviously the image itself betrays my true mindset at the time...

#337 September 22, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 336

I have a good story to tell. Or maybe it's a funny story. I don't know, at the very least, it's embarassing.

As I have done for the past several nights, I laid down on the floor to make my art; it seems like a very child-like thing to do, and I have found it fun to make art in the way a kid would do it. It wasn't terribly late when I started this drawing, but for some reason (perhaps it was because I was laying down!) I got really tired. Really fast.

And . . . I fell asleep while drawing no less than four times!

Now, this is not the first time that I've fallen asleep while making an artwork during this entire project.  However, this is the first time that the drawing had evidence revealing that it happened - there are errant lines everywhere!  Once the drawing was completed (such as it was), I got up and went to the bathroom.  When I returned, apparently I summoned enough consciousness to realize that it was a terrible piece of art!  (Upon looking at it the after waking, it was revealed to be a completely horrific terrible piece of art!)

As if the story hasn't been embarassing enough up to this point, it gets worse.  Knowing that the self-portrait was not good, I decided to make another one.  Apparently I was coherent enough to know that I'd likely fall asleep again and again if I resumed the previous position, so I made a change.  This time I balanced on my hands and knees in the crawling position and bent down to draw into my sketchbook that remained on the floor!  I'm sure I looked very strange, but at least the second attempt was slightly better.  At least it was better enough to actually include it...

#336 September 21, 2011,  Pencil

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 335

It happened again.

I cannot even stress enough how awesome it feels to have an idea surprise me with its intensity and its refusal to leave my mind. As the day wound down, and evening became night, and night became later and later, I found myself working on a written project (incidentally, something that I was quite proud of). This was something that could not be delayed, so regrettably, the day's self-portrait was what had to wait.

Here's the good news.

I've always been a bit of a procrastinator. To put it another way, I generally will wait until the last possible moment to complete a project. Although I've had a few close calls over the years, I've never been completely burned by handling things this way. In fact, when something turns out really well, I tend to praise myself for waiting because the idea, the process, the technique...everything...might have been different and the project could have suffered for it.  While I will readily admit that these projects potentially could have been even better if I had started and completed them earlier, I choose not to focus on the what-ifs in that regard.

With that said, I don't think it matters what this drawing is about.  I throw that out for two reasons: 1.) the image is unique and interesting enough that I believe the viewer can become actively involved with deciphering of their own, because 2.) frankly, I have no idea what it means anyway!

#335 September 20, 2011, Pen
Sounds:  Murderdolls,  Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls and Women and Children Last

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 334

I've never been a huge fan of comic books. I wish I had been, but there wasn't much variety in town when I grew up (there still isn't) and in the pre-internet days of my youth, it was difficult to find anything beyond the absolute basics.

With that said, I suppose that it's never too late to become a fan and to develop an interest in comics. My first thought is: "Like I have the time or the money to invest in something else!"  And it seems as though the main storylines are so rich with colorful history that it would be nearly impossible to catch up, although I'm sure my buddy Robert would appreciate it if I didn't have to ask him why this or that happens every time we see a comic book adaptation movie!

When I laid down to make today's self-portrait, I struggled with where I should even start.  In my frustration, I rested my head . . . and woke up about 45 minutes later!  Perhaps the rest was worth it, however, because I awoke with an idea in mind and immediately put pencil to paper.  I'm not sure where the grimacing comic book-style imagery came from, but I like it.  Maybe I need to make it a point to locate a store and carve out some time browsing for comics!

#334 September 19, 2011,  Pen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 333

I've been extremely pleased the past couple drawings, and most of them from the last two weeks or so. It's very strange, but to use an extremely cliched term, I literally feel like I'm in some kind of "zone" where art-making flows almost effortlessly from my hand and onto the paper. It's a pretty great feeling!

In one of my classes, I speak about how art can be many things. One of these is the fact that art and art-making satisfies the personal needs of a person not only as an artist, but also as a human being. In this case, however, I'm thinking specifically as an artist. During most of the past several nights, I was nearly exhausted when I finally had the chance to sit down to make the day's self-portrait and I was certain that it would merely be a two-minute sketch with loose marks scrawled across the paper as nothing more than a hurried completion of the day's required artwork. But once I actually put pencil (or pen) to paper, something interesting happened: the exhaustion faded away and I was overcome with a vigor that pushed me to go beyond just the bare minimum and make an artwork that would matter to me...and hopefully to others.

All I can say is this: I love being an artist. In many ways, it is not just what I am, but who I am. I think that's a pretty cool feeling...

#333 September 18, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Jeff Black, Honey and Salt

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 332

I love it when an idea hits me from out of the blue, completely taking hold and not letting go.

I was thinking some things about my relationship with Shana and had some poetic words come to mind about how she has the key to my heart. Sugary sweet things like that.

But very true things, nonetheless.

I love communicating with the written word, but my heart truly lies in visual imagery. Once the original idea came to me, the picture shot into my mind like a lightning bolt. This is one of my favorite self-portraits that I've made over the past several months because of both the idea and the drawing itself. It feels pretty awesome when I can feel like I've pretty much nailed it...

#332 September 17, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Allison Moorer, Crows

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 331

At the end of a spectacular evening, I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. Shana and I hadn't done anything terribly exciting or out of the ordinary, but we had been together. And just like every other day of my life, my love for her was completely reaffirmed. How could I not smile?!

#331 September 16, 2011,  Ink

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 330

This self-portrait is a pretty stark departure from the previous one. Yesterday, I carefully drew the image with pencil, and then went over those lines even more carefully with pen. It was meant to look as clean and crisp as possible.

Today, on the other hand, I decided to loosen things up a lot. No pre-drawing in pencil. No care taken to make sure the line work was smooth and clean. Nope, this time I decided to work in a more spur of the moment manner and shoot for a more spontaneous appearance.

While I can't honestly say I like this one better than yesterday's, I am strangely drawn to it. I think both are pretty reasonable respresentations of me...

#330 September 15, 2011,  Pen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 329

There isn't a story about today's artwork - it simply was about having some fun. And it really was a blast to make this one! The one thing I regret, I suppose, was the the drawing came together so quickly that it was finished before I knew it...

(And yes, it's another picture of me in what's been called "that stupid hat"...a notion which I completely disregard!)

#329 September 14, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites, Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 328

Way back in college, I took an astronomy class. It was one of those courses that would satisfy a science credit, plus it was a night class that only met once a week, so I figured it would be a good option for me. Little did I know that I would absolutely love it!

Now, I won't say that I've kept up on the subject, although I do enjoy a good book, article, or documentary on astronomy every now and then.

When I was making this drawing, I decided to add something to my blindfolded image...something a little light-hearted. So, I referred back to my toolbox of tricks and opened up a doorway to the inside of my mind. For those following along, I've mentioned before how I love to create doors or drawers or some other sort of opening into the body. Hell, I even have a tattoo that could be read as a star-shaped opening into my body, revealing a hurricane inside!

Interestingly, the portal didn't resemble my standard door; rather, it looked a lot like the opening at the top of an observatory. Sure, I could have created a large telescope protruding from my skull, but I decided to take it in a slightly different direction...

#328 September 13, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: The Avett Brothers, Four Thieves Gone (The Robbinsville Sessions)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 327

This "double-headed" imagery was something I first explored on Day 265 and then again on Day 314, with varying degrees of success each time.  When I really think about it, I believe this one is my favorite of the three.

To be honest, the most difficult thing about this self-portrait is deciding which way I like it best!

#327 September 12, 2011,  Pen on vellum

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 326

There's not a lot of hidden meaning in today's self-portrait. I started the drawing, decided to add the bird, and then added the dialog box (another characteristic that I've added to my art at some point or another during this project).

Once I finished, however, it occurred to me that the phrase "A little birdy told me..." could be fittingly added to the imagery!

#326 September 11, 2011,  Pen

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 325

This drawing evolved pretty significantly as it was in the process-phase. I love the star imagery and frequently use it in my own art. At one point or another, I decided to put one of my eyes inside a star. (I really like the loose lines used throughout, but especially on the edges of the star!)

As I was nearing the end of brushing on the ink, it became clear that the drawing was lacking something. That something revealed itself as the need for some color.

I don't know how or why it happened that I blackened the eye, but I will say that it ultimately wasn't an accidental thing.  In other words, I had the idea and then put it on paper.  This is different from the time a person in one of my paintings received a black eye simply because I dropped some blue paint near their eye and as I tried to remove it, I liked how it looked!  (Incidentally, the meaning of that painting changed dramatically at that very moment...)

I like this image a lot, but as always I'll leave it open to various interpretations.  I will say this, however: a black eye can represent many different things so this self-portrait can and does have many different meanings.  One idea that I'm drawn to as I write this, though, is that sometimes a person might feel like they are repeatedly beaten down, yet they keep coming back for more.  Personally, I think that perserverance and tenacity are pretty great and admirable character traits...

#325 September 10, 2011,  Ink and colored pencil
Sounds: The Rainmakers, Flirting with the Universe

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 324

I suppose this drawing is a mix of a couple "needs" that I had.

Just like a few days ago when I felt like I needed to break away from using the same materials over and over, I also wanted a bit of a change with this self-portrait. The problem is, I've taken to making a lot of my art while laying in bed at the end of the day, so using something like spray paint or anything messy was pretty much out of the question!

Instead, the "change" I made was actually another of the needs that I mentioned: to devote a little more time than I had in recent artworks. Now, I won't go so far as to say that I spent hours and hours on this drawing, but it was a little more thought out than some from the past week or so.

(I certainly didn't fall asleep during the making of this one!)

#324 September 9, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Big Smith, Big Smith

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 323

I hate to admit it, but I fell asleep at least three times while working on this self-portrait! And judging from the quality, I think it shows!!

#323 September 8, 2011,  Pen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 322

I was ready for something completely different today. I felt like I've been so reliant on either pencils or pens, that I've fallen into a bit of a rut with the project. So today, while my students worked on their own projects and I lamented the absence of my computer which prevented me from doing any office work, I decided to work on my self-portrait.

I discovered a small 4x4 inch wood panel that I had primed a couple months ago. So I grabbed a couple pencils and started off to work...

Wait a minute!! I thought I was trying to break out of a rut! Pencil would've created a nice effect on that surface, but it wasn't different enough.

So, I grabbed a starburst-shaped stencil that I had cut two or three years ago and a couple cans of spray paint to create a background. Then it was time for some acrylic paint . . . but no realistic colors!!

All in all, I had a lot of fun making this self-portrait. I have a thought about what it means to me personally, but after giving so much explanation yesterday, I think I'll let the image speak for itself this time...

#322 September 7, 2011,  Spray paint and acrylic on wood panel
Sounds: Butch Walker & the Black Widows, The Spade

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 321

I've been exploring the idea of using blindfolds in my art for several years now. There are so many ways of looking at the symbolism of what it could potentially mean.

Of course, there's the literal type blindness where a person does not have the physical ability to see. But that's rarely what I'm referring to when I portray a person with a blindfold.

Sometimes people are "blind" to events happening around them, often because of the devious nature of another person or because of a larger event at hand. Sadly, this usually ends with some sort of revelation that may or may not be a positive experience. That's not what this self-portrait is about.

Sometimes a person chooses not to see something. In these cases, perhaps they simply don't want to admit or accept a certain truth.  Or maybe they're just too stubborn in their beliefs or opinions to see any other point of view.  This is clearly a form of blindness!  And no, this is not at all what this drawing is about either.

Sometimes a person blinds themselves to things, or people, or events that really don't matter or could even be potentially harmful to them.  I suppose that psychologically speaking, this is nothing more than a form of self-defense.  

But when it comes down to it, this self-portrait is all about a guy who is madly in love with a girl.  And there is no other woman who could even compare in his eyes.  And he wants nothing more than to hold on to that girl for the rest of his life...

#321 September 6, 2011,  Pen

A great article about the project...

There was a fabulous article recently published in the alumni magazine of The Univerity of  Central Missouri about me and "the self-portrait project."  I have always been very proud of attending CMSU (my only real issue is that I cannot accept the name change to UCM!) and I consider it a fabulous honor to be featured in Today Magazine.

365 Faces of jim
Blogger Finds Discipline in Daily Self-Portrait Project
by Dalene Abner

(Click on pages for larger view)