Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 191

I really love portraiture that's very stylized and almost cartoon-like. When I sat down to draw tonight, I really had no idea what I was going to do. I realize that some might think that this is a bad thing (perhaps an indicator of a lack of creativity on my part!), but I actually accept it as a part of reality. After all, this is the 191st self-portrait in this series, and since I don't want all of them to look exactly alike, sometimes it takes a while to decide what to do!

The idea came to me while I was doodling - just making lines and shapes. Since my beard is getting longer on my chin, sometimes I get the impression that it looks a little pointed. So I decided to elaborate on that shape and make the beard very pointed. One thing led to another and I realized that I had created an interesting cartoon version of myself!

#191 April 29, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Motley Crue, Greatest Hits

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 190

I really enjoyed the sinewy loose style of yesterday's drawing.  While I got away from that just a bit today, I did try to retain some of the spontaneous brushstrokes that made yesterday's self-portrait so fun.  I also cannot deny the influence from one of my artistic heroes, Mark Ryden

Even though I've started the past two drawings far too late at night and in an extremely tired state, I would place them in the upper eschelon of "fun" artworks that I have made over the past couple months.  This feels pretty great.  Additionally, it's reassuring to be nearly 200 self-portraits into this project and I'm still having a blast!

#190 April 28, 2011,  Ink

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 189

Here's another case of having no idea what kind of art I would make when I sat down, but eventually creating something that I love. I'm a big fan of the whimsical sinewy line work in art such as this, and I'm sure glad I was able to tap into that groove tonight.

What more can I say, I cannot help but smile when I look at this drawing!

#189 April 27, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Butch Walker and the Black Widows, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 188

When I woke up this morning, I felt a little dizzy.  This didn't seem too out of the ordinary, because I slept a little later than I had intended and I figured it would take a bit to shake the slumber from my body.  When I got out of the shower, however, I noticed the feeling was hanging on.

It was a bit of a strange sensation.  On one hand, it felt a lot like a slight wine buzz.  On the other hand, it just felt...not right.  It was as though I had clouds inside my head, and my eyes were pointed the wrong direction looking toward the inside of my skull.

The sad thing is that I have no idea what the issue was or what caused it.  It eventually just receded and the feeling was gone.  Perhaps it was morning exhaustion, perhaps it was something else.  But that was it - until the next time...

#188 April 26, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Keith Urban,  Golden Road

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 187

This evening, I had no idea what tonight's self-portrait would look like. I wasn't really in the mood to sit with drawing paper in front of me and wait for inspiration, so I did what I do in these situations: I went for a drive. While I was out and about listening to music, it occurred to me that I haven't done an artwork featuring some sort of compartments for awhile. So, I headed home to begin working.

I have said before how I like imagery featuring people with doors, or drawers, or windows as a part of their body.  Perhaps my biggest influence who also did this was Salvador Dali.  Of course, I would never suggest that this drawing is on par with Dali; a 10-minute sketch which is then inked can't even come close to Dali's genius! sure is fun.

In many respects, this drawing could be considered a double self-portrait: one of me, and one of my conscience.  At least this is what I thought about while making the artwork.  I have never claimed to be perfect, but I'm pretty happy with where my life has lead me.  I think we all need that affirmation every now and then telling us that we're on the right track, and I appreciate the person who gave me that reminder today.  It might be a rough road sometimes, but if we stick it out we'll end up where we're supposed to be.

#187 April 25, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Dokken, Back for the Attack

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 186

Over the years, a lot has been made about Mona Lisa's "smile."  The truth of the matter is, when you look closely at the painting, she's not smiling at all.  It's actually more of a smirk, perhaps indicating that she's hiding a secret that she's choosing not to reveal. 

Personally, I usually refer to that artwork as "the most overrated painting in the history of art."  I realize that this is merely my opinion, but I think there's some validity to it.  In cases such as this, a story will grow based on the fact that it's told over and over.  Mona Lisa is the most famous painting ever, in part because people tend to say it's the most famous painting ever.

Sometimes people believe certain things because, well, other people have said it.  I did a painting called People are Saying It, So it Must Be True that addresses this concept.  And some people are very good at manipulating this to their advantage.  One cannot help but wonder how many "truths" are merely exaggerations or outright fabrications designed to create certain opinions or thoughts in others...

#186 April 24, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Avett Brothers, I and Love and You

Happy Birthday to my Mom, Pam Norris!! 
I could not ask for a better mom - thank you for everything you are and everything that you've always been...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 185

Shana and I were recently talking about a blog that she had read. It suggested that a person should determine what sorts of things make them happy, and then make time to do those things. Simple thought, right?

I think sometimes we get overwhelemed with the things we have to do - our lengthy to-do lists with items that we diligently mark through as we complete them - that we simply don't make the time for the things that we want and like to do. In fact, I think most people have it backwards: these are the things we really need to be doing. This is not to say that we shouldn't do the laundry or pick up the house or any other of the monotonous daily household chores. But if we don't pay attention to our basic sanity, then we'll drive ourselves crazy with everything else.

I'll admit that when I sat down to draw tonight, I was feeling perhaps a magnified version of some of the same frustrations that people feel in their everyday lives. And that is, of course, just a part of life. As I was making preliminary sketch marks with a pencil, I quickly arrived at the facial expression and also decided to add the rabbit ears in recognition of Easter.

But then something happened: I started brushing on the ink. And it felt good. Really good. This entire project has offered me many personal benefits, including the discovery that I really love working with ink and that I'm pretty good with that medium. I found it interesting that even though the brushstrokes are very aggressive and the expression displays intense emotion, I actually felt myself calming down as I made marks on the paper!

This manner of drawing makes me happy. And even though I've made several self-portraits in the series with this medium up to this point, I'm glad I had this realization tonight. It's nice to know that sort of thing about ourselves...

#185 April 23, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Drive-By Truckers, Go-Go Boots

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 184

I just made an interesting discovery . . . just this very minute.

As I sit in front of my keyboard, staring at the screen and pondering what to write about today's self-portrait, I realized that I was doing exactly what I'm doing in the drawing.  I was staring at an empty "page" on the computer screen, awaiting inspiration.

The same thing happened while making the self-portrait itself.  I chose to portray myself in profile because I haven't done so for some time.  The same thing with the closed eyes.  The problem was that this all took place on the left side of the paper, so I considered two options: I could crop the picture so it was nothing but my head, or I could add something to the right side.  Obviously I chose the latter.

Once again today, I really don't know what the image means to me.  It was simply another case of seeing something in my mind and then transferring that to the artwork without relying on the unnecessary necessity of interpretation.  But perhaps I now have at least one possible meaning...

#184 April 22, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 183

Over the past couple days, I have continued to include the birds, but I've noticed a change. The blackbirds haven't been appearing in an ominous way; rather, they are merely a "presence" - neither good nor bad.

It occurs to me that when a person really notices their surroundings, among other things they will usually find birds sitting on power lines. And at a distance, all birds will generally appear to be black. Today's birds seem to be very calm and perhaps thoughtful (as indicated by the thought "circles" over their heads).  The telescoping form and the lines from my eye could represent the notion of paying attention to the small details that are often overlooked.

The "house forms" are a piece of symbolism that I have really liked for years, although I can't say I remember ever using them in an artwork before.  Most people would agree that they should feel safest in their own home, surrounded by the people and objects closest to them.  As with the previous days' drawings, I chose to let this image flow and I added details as they came to mind.  Perhaps in an unconscious way, the safety of the house forms is a reaction to how the birds are generally present in a threatening way.

For the record, I really like interpreting my artworks on the spot like this!

#183 April 21, 2011,  Charcoal, acrylic, pen, and Sharpie on illustration board

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 182

This drawing is obviously a continuation of yesterday's process. A short explanation of how it's done: I covered a piece of illustration board with common flat white latex primer. Once it dried, I added charcoal, which I then rubbed down with a paper towel so it would have a smoother appearance but would better show the texture of the brushstrokes of primer. Then I used that same primer to paint in the lighter tones. Finally, I added the finishing touches with a red marking pen.

It should be noted that this process is a little challenging because it's difficult to paint in the light areas; whereas most people are used to drawing with a dark material on a light surface, this method involves painting with a light material on a dark surface. In other words, the artist has to think in reverse. And honestly, I love the challenge!

What does it mean, you ask?!  That's a good question.  My primary goal was to create an allegory illustrating the concept that when a person speaks, they usually expect things (other people) to listen.  In this case, the main character (who is myself) is speaking to the little black birds - they are all exactly the same and they have fallen in line as they receive the message.  But the white bird appears to have hatched a thought of his own  (pun was kind of intended...), and he might either persuade the others to follow his lead or simply continue marching to the beat of his own drum.

Everything that I just said was a lie. 

I made this self-portrait, having no idea what would come next or what any of it meant.  I was simply having fun making art!  The interpretation that I provided above was simply an interpretation that I literally created on the spot while typing the rest of this blog entry.  But hey, it works!

#182 April 20, 2011,  Charcoal, acrylic, and red marking pen on illustration board

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 181

This self-portrait was a bit of a leap for me.

Despite the fact that many of the artworks in this project might tend to suggest otherwise, I've always found it difficult to work in an abstract manner. I'm more of a realist - perhaps the better term would be literalist - and creating imagery that has no clear meaning has always been a challenge.

Then I finally took the advice that I've given to students so many times over the years:

so what

It doesn't matter if anyone knows what an artwork means or not (they can always come up with their own interpretations anyway).  It doesn't even matter if I don't know what my artwork means (I can always figure it out later on).  What does matter is that I am making art.

Honestly, I love today's self-portrait.  And honestly, I have no idea what it means!  Perhaps I'll come to a conclusion about an interpretation for the drawing, but for now I'll simply find contentment in the fact that I was incredibly motivated during the drawing process and that I am very pleased with the end result.

#181 April 19, 2011, Charcoal, acrylic, and red marking pen on illustration board

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 180

#180 April 18, 2011,  Pen on vellum
Sounds: Todd Rundgren, Something / Anything?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 179

Today's self-portrait is a continuation of yesterday's thought.

I really liked the drawing that I did with the features in proportion to each other, but placed on a face that was clearly of a smaller scale. It occured to me that the next obvious step would be to make all of the features in proportion but to place them on a face that was too large for them.

And the resulting drawing . . . is not quite as successful.  This is a prime example of something that works once might not work every time!

#179 April 17, 2011,  Pen on vellum
Sounds: Jane's Addiction, Strays

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 178

The inspiration for this self-portrait came from someone else's mistake.

One of my students asked for help assembling her portfolio as she prepares for transfer to her next college upon receiving her Associates degree. Hannah is a great student, very respectful and attentive to her work, and I believe she's going to make a fabulous art instructor.

As we looked through her previous work, I was struck by a self-portrait that she had made in my beginning Drawing course. The proportions were clearly incorrect. But what I found interesting was the fact that all of the facial features were in proportion with each other, but they were out of scale with the rest of the head. After explaining why the drawing was not correct in the realm of realism, I spent some time telling her why this artwork was still quite good, despite her unintentional distortion.

Oh yeah, I also told her that I would be "borrowing" the idea from her...

(Thanks a lot, Hannah!)

#178 April 16, 2011,  Pen on vellum
Sounds: Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 177

It's a very cliched statement, but the eyes truly are the windows to the soul.

Okay, that may be a little strong. What I do believe is that a person's eyes will reveal more about them than perhaps anything else. Sure, as human beings our other mannerisms tell a lot about what we're thinking or what our true emotions really are. But when we look at another person and actually communicate with them, we will generally look them in the eyes.

I have always been drawn to eyes. I love to look at them, and I love to draw them. The eyes are one of my favorite features of a woman; my gal has stunningly beautiful eyes and it's a very endearing characteristic.

This drawing came about as I was beginning to render a completely different idea for today's self-portrait. When I sat down in front of a magnifying make-up mirror, I noticed that when I sat at a distance from it, the space between my eyes disappeared. I found this intriquing and thought it might make a nice artwork for today.

#177 April 15, 2011,  Charcoal
Sounds: Ben Harper, Both Sides of the Gun

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 176

Well, it happened again.

I was watching a movie with Emma.
She fell asleep beside me on the sofa.
I decided to finish the movie.
You can guess what happened next.

I don't know for sure what caused me to wake up, but I sent her up to her bed around 3:00 am. As for myself, I grabbed my sketchbook and a red pen and sat down to draw. It's probably safe to say that this is the most tired I have ever been when making an artwork! And it shows on my face.

But as I sit down to write my blog entry the morning after, there's something that I really like about this drawing. It's very honest and very real to me. The drawing was made quickly in about five minutes, but it's a good likeness, not only of my physical characteristics, but also of my state of mind at the time the self-portrait was made.

#176 April 14, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 175

Spring is here.  And this is how I often look for most of the spring and throughout the summer.  It doesn't matter if I'm exercising or working outside, I'll generally wrap a bandana around my head and will be on the go.

When making an ink drawing, I generally start with loose pencil lines and then brush the ink on, making corrections and adjustments  as I go.  I grabbed my brushes that I use for such materials, and noticed a nicely shaped new-looking one.  Then I remembered my favorite: a mangled brush that I've actually cut bristles out of in order to make finer lines.  The end is slightly curved in a way that would appear to make it difficult to use.  But it's my brush, and it just feels right when I use it. 

As an aside, when I showed this portrait to Shana, she exclaimed: "Oh my god, you look like Scott Avett!"  Since she's rather smitten by his music, his art, and yes, his appearance, I suppose this is a good thing for me!

#175 April 13, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 174

One of Garth Brooks' earliest hits was a song called "Much Too Young (To Feel this Damn Old)".  There's no question that this thought was on my mind as I completed this drawing.

It amazes me how incredibly tired I have been lately.  Tonight I decided to watch a movie on TV.  I fell asleep on the sofa, only to wake up around 12:30 in the morning . . . self-portrait still needing to be completed.  The worst part of all is that I don't feel like I waste a lot of time, but each day before I know it, 8:00 pm, or 9:00 pm, or 10:00 pm has arrived.  Even worse yet is that I feel like I need a two hour nap every afternoon.

I sure hate this feeling.  As I approach a "milestone" birthday, I dread entering another decade with chronic fatigue.  Damn, I'm turning into something I don't want to be!

#174 April 12, 2011,  Pen and ballpoint pen


Happy 11th Birthday to my daughter Emma!!
I love you, my sweet little chickadee!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 173

Today's portrait is a little unique in the sense that it's actually the "sketch" for the one I will do tomorrow.  This was not originally intentional; it simply occurred to me that this one could stand on its own as one of my self-portraits.

While it's clearly not my best effort or even close to my favorite in this entire project so far, I am very fond of the loose, spontaneous style of this drawing.  I have always enjoyed working in that manner, and I don't forsee ever abandoning that method of drawing on occasion.

#173 April 11, 2011,  Pencil
Sounds:  Young Dubliners, Real World


Happy Birthday to my son, Austin Norris!!
I hope you had a great day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 172

I had no idea where this drawing was going before I started it. I basically sat down in front of the mirror, and instead of making faces, I simply turned my head one way and then another until I arrived at this position.

It should be noted once again, that a somber expression does not alwas accurately indicate a person's mood, especially if the image is a self-portrait. This was a very fun drawing to make, though. I started it in the late afternoon, but was unable to return to it until around 10:30 tonight. Once the drawing was started, I had a general idea what I would do. Interestingly enough, it looks nothing like I had intended! I suppose that's what happens when you take a break from an artwork for several hours after completing only the bare bones of the portrait...

#172 April 10, 2011,  Ebony pencil
Sounds: Chris Whitley, Din of Ecstasy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 171

It's actually a wonder that it took me so long to make a self-portrait that looks like this. While I can't claim to be a fanatic, I really love old horror movies from the 1930s and 1940s. Unlike today's movies, the special effects back then were obviously pretty elementary.

Most of the time, the viewer could see the strings holding up a spaceship as it flew across the screen.

"Monsters" were just actors dressed up in a costume, as opposed to today's creatures who are often made solely with computer animation technology.

And in order to create a threatening or ominous feeling, characters were lit with extreme lighting (often times from below) to make them appear even more villanous. And this is the effect I was going for this time. In order to achieve the lighting that I was after, I sat in a dark room with two candles on my right side. Apparently two candles were not enough, so I added a couple more and found myself pleased with the shadows.

#171  April 9, 2001,  Ink
Sounds: Incubus, A Crow Left Of The Murder

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 170

I've mentioned before how I like to experiment with different art mediums - this self-portrait displays that concept yet again.

Watercolor has never been one of my favorite materials to work with. This opinion is essentially self-inflicted because I haven't devoted a lot of time working with watercolor in order to really figure out what I can do with it. With that said, I have completed a small handful of self-portraits in this project as a way to expand my skills and I have found that I like it more than I had originally thought.

I recently wrote about my personal discovery of vellum. This paper allows for some very interesting effects and works well with a variety of mediums. And frankly, since I bought a 50-sheet tablet of it, I know I'll use it a lot!

Today I decided to combine the two, with mixed results. The color looks very interesting to me when applied to the vellum, and the semi-slick surface of the paper allows for color mixing quite easily.  On the other hand, I learned rather quickly that vellum is not a good surface for extremely wet mediums!!  The horizontal lines, while creating an eye-catching element to the artwork when it is scanned, are actually the result of paper warpage due to the water.

Note to self: do not use watercolor on vellum again!

#170  April 8, 2011,  Watercolor and pen on vellum
Sounds:  Kansas, Leftoverture

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 169

I think it's safe to say that I was half asleep when I started this drawing - literally. I had the intention of portraying myself looking slightly downward, which would've pictured more of the top of my head.


In my tiredness, that didn't quite pan out. The impression that I got when looking at the drawing again this morning was that of a cartoon bad guy, the kind with the oversized head to accomodate their oversized evil genius brain!

No, this was NOT intentional. And yes, I could have fixed it, but . . .

#169 April 7, 2011,  Ink

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 168

I used to draw this type of image a lot about eight years ago. It started simply enough as something resembling a full moon with a face on it. At some point, I decided to close the eyes and add a big smile.

When I first started making these drawings way back then, I had no idea it was a self-portrait.

Eventually, the image began to symbolize the concept of having good dreams. Obviously the closed eyes would seem to indicate the kind of dreams that a person has while sleeping; while I can definitely appreciate those kind of dreams as well, the real meaning dealt with dreams that relate to goals and things to strive for.  The image meant so much to me that it is the first tattoo I ever got.

It seems like there are times when I need to be reminded of these dreams.  Probably more importantly, I think I need to be reminded to actually work very hard to make these dreams a reality.

As my buddy Vincent Harris regularly says: "Every night, ask yourself 'What have I done today to ensure my success for tomorrow?'"

#168 April 6, 2011,  Pen and pencil on paper