Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 161

So, what's special about today's self-portrait?

Nothing really.

Sure, it's fairly well-drawn, I suppose. Yes, it bears a passing resemblance to me. It's better than some of the artworks that I've included in this project to this point.

The problem? It lacks life. This drawing is bland, at best. While I certainly don't hate this drawing, it's not what I was hoping for when I sat down with pen in hand.

This is yet another example of a concept I've spoken about before: each subsequent artwork will not always be better than the one before. Honestly, it can't be. How many people, in whatever task they're working on, will do a better job with each and every "next step"? The answer is simple: none. But we always want to try. I sure do, anyway.

Tomorrow will be better...

#161 March 30, 2011,  Pen

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 160

Last week I was helping one of my students with her painting. Kay is what she and I both call "an older and experienced" student, and she's an absolute joy to have around. As we discussed what she should do to make her painting better, I got more and more eager to put some paint on that canvas. Finally I seized the moment and said "how about I just show you what would work?"  It felt so good to hold the brush and to make marks with the paint!  To make matters even better for me, as I went on and on about how much I liked her stiff bristled brush, she gave it to me - although we jokingly agreed that I would "pay" her with an A in the class!

This is one of the great perks of teaching art.  I love being around people when they're making art - it's pretty inspiring.  And while I love being the facilitator to the learning process, the best part is when the students make discoveries on their own.  Seeing them figure out just the right mixture of paint to get the exact color, or how to make the perfect brushstroke to capture an image, or just being in the presence of people making something that's never existed before is motivating to me.

As some friends and I used to say when we were in college: let's go play in the studio, because it's usually too fun to be called work!

What is completed of this painting was made in about an hour and a half, give or take.  I originally thought I'd eventually finish the entire panel, but I think I really like the unfinished look.  And yes, I did use the brush I got from Kay...

#160, March 29, 2011,  Oil on wood panel (detail)
Sounds: Jeff Black mix CD

#160, March 29, 2011,  Oil on wood panel
Sounds: Jeff Black mix CD

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 159

I really love trying new things. I have a student named Amanda who is a big fan of the Japanese styles of art called manga and anime. While I don't particularly care for these styles on the surface, I am a believer that one can learn something from essentially any form of art-making.

Amanda brought me her collection of Copic markers (which are often used for these styles of art) and an instructional book detailing methods of using this medium. I was intrigued, and because of her willingness to share, I promised to use them to make one of my self-portraits. These are great markers, very nice for drawing, and make for a cool art-making experience! I am a self-proclaimed marker-hater, but this product might have won me over.

I've already made a couple self-portraits with completely white eyes, and I've been promising myself I'd made one with completely black eyes. I really like the creepy appearance that it gives, and I had a blast making this drawing...

#159 March 28, 2011,  Copic markers
Sounds: Stone Temple Pilots,  Thank You

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 158

One of the nearly unseen personal effects of this project has been my sudden need to wear glasses while drawing. The more I worked on small details, the more I have noticed my eyes crossing and my vision becoming blurry as I tried to focus in on tightly rendered areas.

It's been a strange transition for me to begin picturing myself wearing the glasses. The general process has been to do the actual line work without them, then put them on so I can see better during the shading process (or when I'm adding the heavy line work on the pen drawings). There are times, however, when I'm interested in portraying myself in a slightly different way, and at those times I've just left them on me in the drawing.

In a manner of speaking, I suppose the glasses could be considered just another prop to create just another character...

#157 March 27, 2011,  Pencil
Sounds: Chris Whitley, Hotel Vast Horizon

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 157

I really felt like I owed it to myself to do a great drawing tonight. I made it clear that I was very unhappy with essentially everything about last night's self-portrait, from the circumstances of it being made to the end result. While it was nice to get some positive feedback after I shared it, I still wasn't convinced that it was a good artwork.

One of my daughter Katey's favorites in this project is way back on Day 15. We were talking earlier this evening about all of my self-portraits, and she said again how she loved that drawing.  It got me thinking that I really liked that one too!  And it also got me thinking about how my appearance has changed a lot since that drawing way back in last November.  So I decided to re-visit that theme, and I am very pleased with the results!

It felt great to put in a little more time and effort on this drawing.  Of course, I like how it looks, but it also just felt good to draw for an extended time.  Sometimes it really strikes me how much fun it is to make art, and to do it well enough that I can look at the result with pride.

This is what I do best, and I always need to remember to give it the attention and dedication it deserves...

#157 March 26, 2011,  Pencil
Sounds: Slipknot, Slipknot

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 156

There's a phrase that describes an attitude which I really dislike: "mailing it in."

The concept is that a person just does the bare minimum or maybe doesn't even try very hard to complete a task.

Last night I sat on the sofa. It was late and I was extremely tired. I kicked back, knowing full well that I would fall asleep. Unfortunately, I hadn't completed my self-portrait yet. I also knew that I would wake up at some point in the night, at which time I'd make my art. This happened at around 2:00 am.

Through tired eyes and and even more exhausted body, I sat down to draw. Less than ten minutes later, today's drawing was finished.

Without question, I mailed it in today.  I'm not happy about it.

#156 Match 25, 2011,  Ebony pencil

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 155

This portrait is a little paradoxical.

I felt like I needed to make an image where I was smiling. (You're welcome, Mom.) My life is pretty great, filled with many wonderful and happy things. I've got a lot of amazing people around me - some have been there forever, some have been there a long time, and others have been there for a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things.

Unfortunately, there have been times where I've spewed out various amounts of complaining, either in the written text of this project or elsewhere; clearly that's such a downer to a person's attitude and overall outlook. What I'm seeing more and more, is that with this sort of demeanor, it really pushes people away - unintentionally, but it still drives them off nonetheless.

I've thought a lot about this, and I realize that I now know my reason for all of the griping: I really want people to see my point of view. I want people to agree with me that I have been "right" about some of my decisions, choices, or actions. So, if I complain about particular situations, what someone else might have done, or grumble about this or that or whatever, then in my mind it helps justify the concept of "wow, jim was right all along!"

And here's what it comes down to: that entire thought process really doesn't work.  To go a big step farther: none of that matters anyway. Sure, we want the people closest to us to be supportive and in agreement with us. Sometimes, that just isn't the case, though. If a person needs others people to verify that they've done is right or wrong, then that person is - in my opinion - pretty needy.  I don't think anyone wants to be that way; sometimes it just happens.  But we can make a change.

#155 March 24, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Bad Brains, Bad Brains

Here's where the paradox comes in.  Although I really wanted to make a "happy picture," I've explained before how difficult it is to maintain a smile for the length of time it takes to make a portrait.  A smile causes everything on the face to change, from the eyes and nose, to certain wrinkles that appear, to the overall shape of the face.  So, I actually appear to be smirking a little more than smiling (I'm sorry, Mom.).

It might not have helped matters that I chose a very raw, aggressive punk CD for the sounds during this drawing...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 154

On several occasions, I've described a common practice that I use to help me settle on a pose or idea for self-portraits when I feel an artist's block: I look in the mirror and start making faces. Most of the time I wind up laughing at myself as well!

There were several factors that led to the appearance of this drawing. For starters, I had just woke up from a nap that was about two hours too short. The thought of literally holding my eyes open seemed like a reasonable consideration at the moment I sat down. Secondly, I was very pleased with the hand in yesterday's drawing; I love drawing hands anyway, so this provided a little extra motivation to include one today as well.

And thirdly, I just wanted to have a good time, so making a rather silly face seemed like a good idea!!

#154 March 23, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Kiss, Alive!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 153

Things I worry about:

- that I have either let my kids down or am just not the Dad I should be to Austin, Katey, and Emma.  These kids have endured a lot of changes over the past year and I know that right now they simply cannot understand the complete picture of why everything has happened as it has.  I love them beyond words, and want to do everything that I can to give them the best life possible.  I know I can't simply buy their happiness and give them everything they might want (and wouldn't want to anyway), but I hope to eventually instill in them the understanding that there's more to life than just material things like fancy vehicles, clothes with particular stores' names stitched onto them, or unlimited funding for whatever may catch their eye.  In other words, there's nothing wrong with wanting for something because it should create the desire to actually work hard for what they receive without any sense of entitlement or expectation for hand-outs.  I have learned many lessons in that regard, and I hope they'll do the same.

- that I am not the man that Shana deserves.  I can admit that there are times when I can be completely irrational in my opinions and thoughts and the way I happen to express myself; all I can do is attempt to be the partner that she wants and needs me to be.  A lot of people think they know the entire story about particular situations, but one thing I can say for certain: they do not.

- the same goes for being a "step-Dad" to Ally, Juliet, and Jake.  I love those kids as my own and want to be the best that I can for them.  I never want to replace their biological Dads, because they have very good Dads - one of them is one of the finest human beings I know - so I simply want to be there for them when they need me and I hope to be a positive influence in their lives.

- that I will at some point lose the opportunity to continue doing what I know I do best: instructing students about art and art-making, as well as many other art-related activities.  Sometimes there's much more to life than simply a "bottom line" and when real people are involved, then decisions should be based on a lot more than just financial budgets or a how a job description can be re-written for a different "skill set."

- that I might be wrong about my thoughts on certain religious belief systems.  I like to think that a person such as myself is the most correct of all: I do NOT know the truth.  I honestly believe that no matter how much as person thinks they know, or how strong their beliefs or faith about something may be, they cannot really know an absolute truth when it comes to spiritual matters.  But believe me when I say that I'm searching very hard to find MY truth.

- that I have let down my Grandma and Grandad.  I won't go into my thought processes regarding where they might be right now, but assuming they were still alive, I worry that they might think a lot lesser of me for the man I have become.  These are two people that I respected more than perhaps any other, and their approval would also matter to me more than perhaps any other.

Of course I think about, worry over, and ponder a myriad of other things.  But these are the ones I seem to go back to again and again...

#153  March 22, 2011,  Ink
Sounds:  Young Dubliners,  Absolutely

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 152

I like what happened with this self-portrait.

As I started drawing, I really had no idea where the process was going to lead me.  Although I will admit to being something of a control freak at times, other times it feels very good to have no plan in mind and to just allow myself to run with it.  And that was the case with tonight's artwork.

I worked very loosely in pencil and made the preliminary drawing.  There were mostly scribbly lines on my paper, and as the basic form came into being, I decided that I really liked the effect.  When I added the pen over my pencil marks, I tried very hard to maintain the spontaneous and loose line quality.  And I will also admit to attempting to repeat the theme from yesterday's drawing, in which I added no irises or pupils to my eyes to achieve a semi-creepy effect.  So yes, I ran with that as well.

Here's the real question: is this actually my face, or is it a mask of my face??

#152 March 21, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Iron Maiden, Best of the Beast

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 151

I had a thought come to me when I sat down to draw tonight. I've always been a big proponent of free speech in music, movies, literature, and so on. When I was a teenager, there was a huge push toward labeling of music, especially rock and rap music. As any music fan knows, that particular initiative has come to pass and any music that could be considered even slightly objectionable has a "warning label" placed prominently on the cover.

There were some bands in the 1970s and 1980s who were considered "Satanic" because their lyrics included references to "Satan," "the Devil," or "demons." I don't place these words in quotes to take away from those who truly subscribe to those belief systems; rather, I do so because most of the musicians accused of this were completely innocent.

I distinctly remember reading an article on the 1970s heavy metal band Black Sabbath, who defended their lyrics as essentially story-telling, covering a wide variety of topics from good versus evil, to magic and wizardry, to general personal and social commentary.  My thought on the matter is, if this band is "Satanic" because they mention that concept in a song, then is Al Pacino a "Satanist" because he played Satan in a movie?  Clearly there is a double standard here!

Here's my point: I know a lot of people will look at today's self-portrait and wonder if I'm possessed by evil spirits, or that I was in a really bad mood when I made the drawing, or that I simply have a dark cloud floating over me. And the fact of the matter is, none of the above is true. I simply wanted to portray a character, just like an actor might do so.

And that's it - I really am in a great mood!

#151 March 20, 201,  Ink
Sounds:  Kiss, Creatures of the Night

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 150

I think what I'm saying in this portrait pretty much says it all:


It never ceases to amaze me how occasionally an artist can have an idea for an artwork, then make that artwork, and still have no idea what it means! Today I had a little more time to work on my self-portrait, so I decided to work in acrylic. I also decided to show myself in profile. As usual, it didn't take long for a blackbird to make an appearance.

The final element that I added was the voice balloons. Why is the bird saying "LOL"? I have no idea. That was literally the first thing that came to my mind, so I ran with it.

Personally speaking, I don't use the letters "LOL" in texts, emails, or anywhere online. I don't fault anyone who does use it, I simply choose not to. (Although I do tend to give my daughter Katey a hard time about her frequent use of it on occasion!) I don't know if I'm being a traditionalist or just a contrarian when I insist on using "HAHA" in situations when I'm making a joke or indicating that something is funny, but that's just me.

Regarding what the self-portrait means, I still have nothing...

#150 March 19, 2011,  Acrylic on wood panel
Sounds: Rodney Carrington, Morning Wood

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 149.5

As I was cleaning up the room where I normally do my drawings, I found a couple self-portraits that I considered so poor that I chose to disregard them and make a completely new drawing on those days. I thought I'd take a moment to create an additional blog post today in order to better describe my thinking during the art-making process. So, I'm going to break a cardinal rule that I hold in my studio art classes in which I don't allow my students to say anything negative about their work, and I'm going to share a couple that just didn't quite get there!

I think I've mentioned before that back when I was in college, I had a professor who proclaimed that as artists, approximately 90% of what we make is no good. Her point was that we need to make more and more art, so the 10% that is good becomes a larger output of quality art. Furthermore, with the more practice we give ourselves, there will be a greater quantity of our art that will be successful. While I might tend to disagree with her intital percentages, I clearly see the point she was making.

The first drawing is good in theory. I like the idea a lot, and it bears a slight resemblance to my painting called "The Devil Inside." I suppose there's something to be said about having a giant heart inside my stomach, and while I obviously have created many self-portraits that are abstracted in some way, I simply gave up on this one because it wasn't working for me. And I really couldn't get beyond that look on my face!

This artwork was made by inking the lines with pen, then the photocopied heart was added.  At this time, the entire image was covered with clear acrylic gel medium.  The original plan was to add watercolor over the top, but obviously I didn't make it that far before I realized the drawing simply wasn't very good!  However, I think I've figured out what it will take to make it good, and it'll be a future self-portrait...
Pen and photocopied item on Bristol board

The second image is one from a few months ago when I got on a kick of using acrylic paint on black paper. I've said many times that I don't believe a self-portrait is required to look like the artist, but this time there was so little similarity that I didn't feel like sharing it and calling it ME.

This painting was made without any preliminary pencil marks - I just started painting.  Again, it's another idea that was good in theory, but just didn't work for me.  I should add, however, that I love the idea of using a bold unrelated color like the green to provide a "fly in the ointment," as another of my old professors used to say.  In other words, it creates a bit of interest.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough of an interest to save this painting!

Acrylic on black paper

Day 149

This is one of those images that I think needs a bit of explanation. While I'm content that most viewers will decipher the drawing and create their own interpretation, I have an uncharacteristic desire to share my thought process with this one.

Initially, I sat down to draw as I do most days, with my reflection staring back at me from a mirror. However, as I considered what the image would actually look like, I began doodling with a pencil and almost immediately created some lines that soon morphed into the larger fish at the bottom. From that point on, I knew exactly what the image would look like.

The big question is this: which fish is me? Am I the angry arrogant predator that is attacking a weaker and smaller prey? Or am I the one that appears to lack a bit of intelligence, who is oblivious to the imminent danger that is at hand?

And the answer is: I'm both.

I won't speak for anyone else by me, but I suspect that most people can associate with either of these concepts at different times. There have been some recent instances in my life where I was completely blindsided by the greed and ruthlessness of others who seemingly have no care other than a "bottom line." On the other hand, there are some times when I really feel like I'm getting to the point of lashing out at injustices directed at both me and others. This is not to say that I would ever willingly take advantage of the defenseless, because I think there's something to be said about a "Robin Hood" complex. And while I definitely don't want to be the big "bully," certainly no one ever wants to be the weak one either...

#149 March 18, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Various Artists, You Got Lucky : A tribute to Tom Petty

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 148

I think this self-portrait really demonstrates how I feel this evening. To put it simply: I'm exhausted.

One thing that I lament most about lost youth is the ability to put in a late night of art-making, and feel relatively few side-effects the next day. I always feel at my most creative in the middle of the night, but a life with kids, a partner, a real job, and so on make keeping those hours impractical.

But you know, I wouldn't trade a single thing. I'll just have some days where I'm pretty damned tired...

#148 March 17, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Bad Company, Original Bad Company Anthology

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 147

This self-portrait was made while I wes nearly half asleep, literally. Good thing I was using a photo reference because I can guarantee I didn't have a smile on my face while I was drawing!

#147 March 16, 2011,  Pencil

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 146

It's that time of year again: baseball teams are in Spring Training gearing up for a fresh new start. In theory, every team has an equal chance of finding success. With the disparity in team payrolls, it's clear that this will never again be the case, but each season seems to find a unique club that defies the odds and becomes the story of the year.

To me there's something very special about the game of baseball. I never was a great player, but I love the game. I love the way a baseball feels in my hand - it just feels natural for some reason. I love to watch a third baseman make a diving stab down the line and rifle the ball across the diamond to get the runner by less than half a step. I love to see a curve ball that breaks so much that it appears to have been affected by supernatural forces. And I love to watch a centerfielder run an impossible distance to make a dazzling play for the final out of an inning, only to be the first batter when the team comes to the plate.

To me, there are two only two sports seasons: baseball season, and the time that I'm waiting for baseball season to begin.

#146 March 15, 2011,  Pen and colored pencil
Sounds: Avett Brothers, Mignonette


Happy Birthday to Juliet Gayle -
I hope you had a fantastic birthday!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 145

I will be the first one to admit that I have no idea what this self-portrait means. So, I'll explain the process involved in making this drawing, and allow the viewer to decide what it means.

1. I spent way too much time on facebook this evening, and received a joking message from my buddy Robert instructing me to get to work on today's self-portrait. I responded sarcastically.

2. I folded some laundry in an attempt to conger up an interesting idea.  Apparently laundry isn't as interesting or exciting as I had hoped.

3. I was distracted by Shana doing her exercise video, so I sat down to watch.  Her, not the video.

4. In order to motivate myself, I decided to select some art-making music since I haven't used it as an influence for the past several days. Ultimately, I decided on a CD that I just bought Shana for her birthday (excellent choice, by the way!).

5. I sat down in front of the mirror and began making faces. It occurred to me that I should be glad no one was looking at me. It would've been even worse if I had been being filmed. On the other hand, if that were the case, then I could potentially become a youtube phenomenon. So I decided to continue making faces anyway.

6. I started sketching with quick, loose pencil marks. The lines that defined my hair were somewhat reminiscent of those from Day 132, so I decided to run with it and plagiarize myself.  I gave myself permission, however, so perhaps it was just borrowing from myself.

7. As I was adding the facial features, I thought it might be nice to close my eyes.  It didn't take me long to realize that it's very difficult to draw with your eyes closed, so I simply closed the eyes in the drawing.

8. I remembered a comment that I made a few days ago about how I've been missing all of the birds in my drawings, so I got online to find an image of a blackbird.  Then a crow.  Finally I settled on a raven.  As the drawing process continued, I changed the features a bit, so I ask that lovers of ravens don't hold me accountable for the incorrect details.

9. As I was adding the ink, I realized that the bird appeared to be whispering in my ear.  I have no idea what a bird would say to me, but I like to imagine what he might say.

10. Once I sat down to write today's blog entry, I contemplated the stellar idea of adding a step-by-step description of the drawing process, complete with very lame attempts at cheesy humor.  Mission accomplished...

#145 March 14, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Roman Candle, Oh Tall Tree in the Ear

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 144

This drawing started out the same as so many others have, with my expression appearing somewhat sour. As I've said so many times, it's simply easier to maintain a frown than a smile for the time it takes to make a complete drawing.

Then something very nice happened: my lovely gal made me smile. And that smile remained. The drawing had to be altered midway through, but that was definitely not a problem. I think this self-portrait now looks a little more like "me" anyhow.

So thank you Shana, for putting a smile on my face. And happy birthday, baby...

#144 March 13, 2011,  Pen and colored pencil

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 143

To set the stage, I'll admit that I've been exceedingly tired over the past couple days. Once again, I had fallen asleep on the couch, only to wake up rather late at night realizing I needed to make my self-portrait.

It has been quite awhile since I've drawn with a plain ballpoint pen, but I can't really say that I was excited to use it. To be truthful, my exhaustion prevented any type of excitement at that moment! With that said, this is my favorite drawing from the past several days. The loose scribbled lines work well with the spontaneous nature that I was working with.

Once again, I found myself in a situation where, despite the circumstances, an artwork had to be made. In most situations in the past, I would've simply put it off until a later time, but this time the success of the project dictated what I must do. This reminds me of my chosen method of working for most of my life: with a deadline looming overhead like a dark cloud.

I would like to ease out of that mindset slightly, but on the other hand - as they say: "If it's not broken..."

#143 March 12, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 142

Today is one of those days where I simply have nothing to say about my drawing. Frankly, I don't think it's bad, but I don't think it's great either. Here's the story: I laid down to rest for a few minutes last night...and when I woke up FIVE hours later at 3:30 am, I reluctantly had to motivate myself to make art! As I've said before, one of the great unexpected benefits of this project is that I now draw much faster than ever, so fortunately for me this drawing didn't take long.

No more laying down to "rest my eyes" before getting the daily self-portrait finished...

#142 March 22, 2011,  Pen

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 141

Sometimes it's a little scary to try a new material. Although I've used chalk pastels on many occasions, I'm certainly not a master and I've never even done a portrait with that medium. So this was truly forging new territory for myself as an artist.

I bought a relatively nice set of pastels several years ago upon the encouragement of my friend Nora Othic, but for one reason or another I never even used them.  But when I found them tucked away on a shelf a few days ago, I decided it was time to try them out.  I can't say that I'm terribly excited about the resulting artwork, but I enjoyed the process and the material enough to try it again very soon!

#141 March 10, 2011, Pastel
Sounds: Allison Moorer, Crows

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 140

I'll be honest when I say that I like the detail version of this drawing better than the complete artwork. I really liked it better when it was still in pencil form before I added the line work with pen. The face had even more of a more forlorn, sad expression that is actually a better indicator of my true feelings tonight.

I don't like being called a moody person.  I don't like being referred to as grouchy or gripey.  But sometimes the label fits, I guess.  Yes, everyone falls into a less than stellar mood - that's just one of the prices we pay for being human.  What amazes me, however, is how certain artists throughout history (Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch are the obvious first people who come to mind) were able to literally function with such overwhelming psychological issues.  Often these artists are called "nuts", but they certainly were productive for people who were burdened with such heavy mental and emotional baggage.

#140 March 9, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Avett Brothers, The Gleam

#140 (detail) March 9, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Avett Brothers, The Gleam

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 139

Every now and then, it's nice to jump around from material to material, process to process. One thing that I've discovered throughout this entire project is that there are certain materials that I really love to work with, and some "old classics" that I either do not like to use or that I get bored with easily. In that regard, I have personally discovered that pencil is one material that I prefer to use as a preliminary material before adding pen or ink or paint. And I have learned that I really enjoy using ink.

This is another one of those self-portraits that might not bear the most striking resemblance to me. However, it was made solely with ink and a brush, with no pre-drawing. I really love the immediacy of this process and how it's a direct, almost gestural image. The minimalist approach with very few lines is also rather new to me, as I used to believe that the best way to make a portrait was to portray each and every nuance of a person's face. Frankly, I would simply work a drawing to death!  It's pretty refreshing to create a quick depiction of someone with loose expressive lines. I think that tells a lot more of the story anyway.

#139 March 8, 2011,  Ink on brown paper bag

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 138

I went back to the basics just a bit with this self-portrait. Although I adore the style, I feel like I've fallen into a bit of a rut with the pen drawings featuring bold heavy outline. So, I decided to mix it up a little and use nothing but pencil.

Although this drawing is certainly not 100% "realism," it was nice to make an image that is more straight-forward without some type of theme.

With that said, I miss the blackbirds...

#138 March 7, 2011,  Pencil

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 137

This drawing is evidence of a very unique situation. There have been several instances where I liked a drawing so much that I planned to revisit the theme again for a future self-portrait. There have been other times when I liked the idea, but felt that the artwork itself was not so great. Again, I planned to revisit the concept in the future. Today's self-portrait is the first time that I re-worked an image the very next day.

I really loved the idea from yesterday's drawing. When a person is seeking something, it often feels like they're blindly grasping for whatever they can get their hands on. Honestly, however, I felt like the facial expression and body position in the previous artwork didn't imply enough urgency. So, I did it again.

And this one tells the story as I wanted it to be told...

#137 March 6, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Big Smith, Roots Shoots & Wings

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 136

I'll be the first to admit that this one doesn't really physically look like me. On the other hand, I'm a firm believer that self-portraits are rarely about just the artist's outward appearances.

I think I'll go back to my old rule: I'm not going to say what this drawing is about. However, I will pose these questions:

What could I be reaching for?

Is it an onject?

Is it a concept?

Could it be a feeling?

Here's something else that I think: if a person puts themself in my place in this drawing, I'm betting that there are a huge variety of possible meanings for this drawing.  To take it a step farther, I'd like to think that the overall themes of this image are pretty universal and that most people will have no problem relating.

(PS: As I read through my words to make any last minute changes just before making this public, I just now have an idea for how to make this theme even better.  Perhaps the next self-portrait has just been planned!!)

#136 March 5, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Patty Griffin, Flaming Red

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 135

This portrait was obviously done while traveling. I was enthused about stream of consciousness drawings (the presenters referred to it as zen-like art) from a workshop at the conference I'm attending, so I sat down to draw.

First things first: it's beyond clear to me that this project has improved my drawing skills exponentially.  Of course, I predicted that this would be the case from the very beginning.  Art and art-making is really no different than anything else that is done on a regular basis, such as practicing a musical instrument.  In other words, the more you do it, the better you get. 

But something that has changed that I suppose I should have predicted, but I never actually put into words:  I now draw much faster.  I have always been a very meticulous art-maker, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but this would always translate into working very slowly.  And this, of course, would often make the process drag along.

Secondly, I love taking chances with my art, without worrying about possible failure.  I really liked the cartoonish image of myself.  But once I added the hand, I liked the drawing less.  Once I added the dragonfly, I liked it even less.  And when I added the bird...okay, you see where I'm going.  I can't say that this drawing is a failure, but I will readily admit that this is not my most successful either.  I am of the firm belief that an artist should never set such high expectations for themselves that they would suggest each subsequent artwork MUST be better than the previous one.  When a person establishes that kind of goal, they are only setting themselves up for failure.

#134 March 4, 2011,  Pen