Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 222

For some strange reason, I consider it to be good luck when I look at a digital clock and all of the numbers are the same, such as 11:11 or 5:55 and so on. With that said, I was somewhat pleased when I noticed that today's drawing is #222.

And unfortunately, that's about the most interesting thing I have to say about today's self-portrait! Sure, I think it's a nice enough little drawing; it was made in the middle of the night while watching a movie and talking with a couple of my kids. But, there's nothing terribly special about it.

It kinda makes me wanna draw a pitcure of a chimpanzee again...

#222 May 30, 2011,  Pen

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 221

I had a goal in mind tonight. The idea was to create a self-portrait with great economy in my use of line or mark-making. There was no pre-drawing with pencil; the image was made using only ink and a brush. From start to finish, I would estimate that I easily spent less than 5 minutes.

I know that this sort of information often causes the casual viewer to take pause and question the quality of a work of art. It seems that the common thought is that for an artwork to be "good" then it must have taken a long time (which usually translates to a lot of effort) to produce. And I'm here to say that this is simply not always the case! Now, I should clarify that I'm not by any means calling this self-portrait a masterpiece of art. But it is a decent work of art, and it has a definite personality to it.

The problem that I often find, especially when working with students, is the frustration encountered when one person can make an artwork in a short time, yet it takes another person much more time to create a piece of similar quality. And as artists, there is nothing more that we can do other than to accept that this is merely a stark reality of our chosen field. Sure, it seems unfair, but to be quite frank: that's just the way it goes...

#221 May 29, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Alison Krauss and Union Station, Every Time You Say Goodbye

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 220

This self-portrait was made while sitting at Chicago O'Hare Airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Kansas City. We had an extended layover, so I decided to invest a little more time in today's drawing than I had during the previous days of vacation. Personally, I love it.

I know there are all sorts of possible interpretations for this image. Frankly, I have no idea what it means; it's just one of those things that maybe I'll figure out eventually. The idea came to me about a week ago, and I've let the thought percolate for a bit before actually putting it on paper. I feel like I waited just long enough...

#220 May 28, 2011,  Ebony pencil
Sounds: Son Volt,  Trace

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 219

There are a couple pieces of inspiration for this self-portrait.

For starters, I have always loved the moon. More specifically, I love the nighttime in general, with a clear sky and a full view of millions of tiny specks of light in the sky illuminating from millions of miles away. 

But the main thing that led me to creating this image - on this particular night - was the fact that I just spent an incredible evening laying on the beach.  Surprisingly, the moon was not full in the sky; as a matter of fact, there was no moon at all.  But there were far too many stars to even consider counting them all.  And the wind came off the ocean delivering a surprisingly cool breeze, given that it had been incredibly humid not long before before during daylight hours. 

And as I lay in a beach chair with my toes in the sand and my wonderful lady by my side, I wondered out loud if it could possibly get any better than it was at that very moment...

#219 May 27, 2011,  Ink

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 218

This is what happens when a person mistakenly (ie. ignorantly!) believes the sun isn't that hot and subsequently doesn't use enough sunscreen on their chest and stomach.


#218 May 26, 2011,  Ink and ballpoint pen

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 217

This self-portrait is different from yesterday's. When I completed at drawing (which was described by a friend as looking a lot like Miles Davis!), I liked it; then the next morning, I didn't like it; then by the time I posted it, it was growing on me again.

With today's drawing, I didn't really like it when I finished it, and I like it even less now!!

#217 May 25, 2011,  Ink

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 216

This self-portrait was made at the end of a long day. I was tired and ready for sleep. My hair was a bit of a mess, although I probably exaggerated it a bit.

I'm not sure where the abstracted imagery comes from. My first thought when looking at this drawing after waking up this morning was a bit of a surprise - I really didn't like it at all! But as of this writing - with the drawing right in front of me - there's something about it that I find oddly appealing. There's perhaps a bit too much element of "amusement park charicature" but I can deal with that on occasion.

With all of that said, this self-portrait was made at the end of a fabulous day which brought many wonderful new experiences...

#216 May 24, 2011,  Ink

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 215

Upon looking back through the images in this project, I'm sure that viewers would find a small handful of self-portraits created with ordinary red ballpoint pen. I generally have these around to be used for grading school work, but I've also grown quite fond of using them to make drawings.

I'm also glad to see the blackbirds come back for a visit...they've been away for far too long...

#215 May 23, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 214

This self-portrait began at a place of zero inspiration. I sat down to make art, and there was nothing. I made a to-do list for the next day in hopes that my mind would be led toward an idea or vision. But nothing.

So, I did what always seems to help: I simply started making marks on the paper. The larger face started to take shape and more details emerged. I've said before how I love using a scribble technique, so I followed my instinct and let it flow. I actually had a plan for what it would represent when I drew the line across the forehead, but it looked interesting as a "mask" so I ran with it instead.  (Yes, the original idea is now in my "future self-portrait to-do list!)

The outline for the top of the head was already there from my preliminary marks, so I left it in. Unfortunately the drawing looked a little plain at this point, so I added the smaller head at the bottom. While I was making the drawing, this head was upside down, but once I finished I happened to flip the page and liked what I saw - so I guess this artwork is interactive because it can be viewed in multiple ways!

#214 May 22, 2011,  Pencil
Sounds: Marty Casey and the Lovehammers, Lovehammers

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 213

I'm curious what type of psychological diagnosis I might have. 

I understand that's quite a way to start today's comments, so let me start at the end of the story.  At the first glance of today's self-portrait, there is an obvious change in my appearance: the beard is gone. 

Now, let me say for the sake of clarity, that I generally prefer myself with some sort of facial hair.  Unfortunately, however, I find myself literally unable to leave my whiskers alone, especially when they get a little longer.  I constantly catch myself reaching up and touching them.  I bite on the ones near my mouth.  I pluck errant hairs when I catch my reflection in the mirror (and not just the grays, either!).  The worst of all?  When they get long enough to grab with my teeth, I pull them out - yes, with my teeth! 

(To answer the obvious question: yes, it hurts.)

When I was a small kid, my mom got very worried about me because I started to lose patches of hair.  Fearing some sort of dreadful disease, she hauled me off to the doctor for a diagnosis.  She found his first suggestion to be ludicrous: perhaps I was pulling it out on my own.  But I couldn't be that goofy, right?!

Wrong.  Soon, Mom found some clothespins hidden away with some of my hairs stuck in the spring mechanism.  Yes . . . apparently I was pulling out clumps of my hair.  Although I don't remember this happening, I would assume that it hurt then as well!  Recently I asked a psychological professional what could've been my motivation for doing something so strange at the time, and she replied that it was likely caused by some sort of anxiety I had at the time.  Hmmm, it makes me wonder.

Back to present day.  I won't say that I shaved the beard solely because I was tired of messing with my whiskers.  I've stated before that I really love changing my appearance on a regular basis, so this was just one of those times.  But, I have also readily admitted to having some pretty strange proclivities, and this was certainly one of them.  Either way, it won't be a distraction - at least until I grow it back again! 

#213 May 21, 2011,  Pencil

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 212

Very simple and very quick this time. Nothing more to say...

#212 May 20, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 211

I love sharing the inspiration for this self-portrait. In our living room, we have a signed and framed poster of the Avett Brothers hanging on the wall (I have a very cool lady who likes the same sort of things that I do!). The photo is similar to this. Pure and simple, I borrowed very heavily from the image.

I also decided to revisit ink wash again tonight. This time it was a little different from the previous examples in this project since I used a pen very minimally and chose to focus on mark-making with a brush and various shades of black ink. I think the end result is a pretty decent likeness of me (which is not always what I'm going for), and frankly, the art-making process was very relaxing tonight.

Every now and then, it just doesn't feel fun when I'm making some type of art. Sometimes it feels forced or not exactly genuine; of course, this is a natural by-product of a project like this where I am, well, forcing myself to make art every day for a year.  But times like this where everything just flows almost effortlessly are times when I feel absolutely like I'm home...

#211 May 19, 2011,  Ink wash and pen
Sounds:  Van Halen, 1984

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 210

The story behind this self-portrait is simple: I was thinking about the events from the past couple days/weeks/months, and a smile spread across my face. Sure, there is a recurring annoyance floating around almost daily, and that issue will be dealt with shortly. But other than that, life is pretty great!

#210 May 18, 2011,  Ink
Sounds:  Cross Canadian Ragweed, Garage

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 209

A couple of the choices made during the making of this drawing are slightly interesting.

First of all, it occured to me that most of my self-portraits portray me in a frontal viewpoint. Frankly, this is the easiest way to look at oneself in the mirror, but it does get a little monotonous. Sure, I try to mix it up with different materials or the addition of other elements (the birds, the birds!), but sometimes it's a challenge. That explains the 3/4 view today.

Secondly, straight ink - when applied with a brush - is a very linear medium, so I usually tend to just draw lines in the irises to add the "color" of the eyes. But tonight I simply didn't want to do that; therefore, I returned to my old friend, the ink wash. This was a good choice because it completely transformed the appearance of the drawing for the better by adding a couple additional tones to the pure black and white.

Another realization that I had at this very moment is that a good amount of the comments I make in the text that accompanies my self-portraits is actually geared toward the non-artist.  Perhaps this is just the teacher in me, or maybe it's just my natural tendency to over-explain things.  I believe a new goal that I should add to this project should be to strike a good balance between the "educational" aspects of art-making and the musings of a productive fine artist.  I'll keep trying...

#209 May 17, 2011,  Ink wash
Sounds:  Sam Bush, Glamour & Grits

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 208

I think all artists find themselves in this predicament every now and then.

Sometimes a musician just has a bad performance.

Occasionally a stage actor has an off-night.

And every now and then, even the best visual artists make some really lousy art.

There is not really anything that I like about this self-portrait. I made it very late at night through incredibly tired eyes and mental exhaustion. Sometimes a person puts things off because they just can't motivate themselves to do a project, and sometimes they have more important priorities. In this case, it was the latter.

So, I stand corrected: there is ONE thing I like about this drawing. The reason that it was started late (which led to its poor overall quality) is because I was having a great time with my kids and my lady*.

* In answer to the question I asked in yesterday's post . . . she said YES!


#208 May 16, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: The Avett Brothers, Live, Volume 3

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 207

Dear Readers,

I appreciate each of you for reading my thoughts and looking at my images.  Whether you are a daily visitor, or you check in only every now and then, I am so grateful for your interest in what I do.

With that said, I'd like to beg your indulgence today because you're visiting on a rather special occasion.  Of course you're all more than welcome to read along, but today's self-portrait and the accompanying text is meant for one person only.

Dear Shana,

I've thought long and hard about what I'd like to say in this situation.  When it comes down to it, I decided that I would probably say some of the same things I already say to you all the time.

I could mention how each and every day, something happens to remind me how lucky I am to have you.

I might tell you how incredibly much I love you...and how I love you more and more with each passing day.

I could tell you how I constantly strive to make myself a better person because of you. 

Chances are, I would tell you how much I appreciate all of the love and encouragement you give me - how much I love it that you're my biggest "fan."  (Even this project would likely not exist if it hadn't been for your inspiration, support, and understanding!)

I would probably tell you that I adore you, that I am smitten by you, and that I "LIKE" you.

I would certainly tell you that you're an amazing partner and that I love sharing a life with you.

But you know, today I think I can do a little better than all of that...

Shana, I'd like to ask if you would please give me the honor of being my wife - will you marry me?


#207 May 15, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: The Avett Brothers,  Live Vol. 2

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 206

This self-portrait was based on a photo I took to use as reference material for a painting I'm working on. I was sitting a cool little coffee shop with my sketchbook, and decided that this would be a good image to work from. (I don't drink coffee, but the hot chocaolate was fabulous!)

I occasionally like to work in different places. I was once having a conversation with Richard Babb, who was a local sign painter and an incredbible artist. I told him about a house that I lived in while in college, and how I had fashioned makeshift studio space under the basement stairs. His comment was: "You'll always remember making art in that space."

I can't say that I often think about that place, but he was right; I have some great memories of different artworks made down there. With this project, I have settled in to working at the dining room table for the vast majority of self-portraits. But every now and then, it's fun to "take the show on the road" and make art elsewhere!

#206 May 14, 2011,  Ink

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 205

This drawing is nothing like the original plan.

Granted, there was no real plan, but I had a basic idea what today's self-portrait would look like.  As I loosely sketched the entire image, I liked how the face was emerging as a simple cartoon-like version of me.  I like situations like this because I get to retain my first idea for use later on, and I also get a decent artwork to use for now.

#205 May 13, 2011,  Pen

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 204

This image actually has roots in several different sources.

I chose to use the same materials as yesterday simply because I had such a great time making that drawing.  The combination of the sharp lines of the mechanical pen and the versatility of the ink wash make for some interesting drawings.

I have been thinking about doing a full body self-portrait for a few days, and I decided the time was now.  The concept of the dunce cap and the submissive pose came from a description that a photographer gave about one of his photos in a book I'm currently reading.  (This Is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography and Life Through the Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx, by Nikki Sixx.)  Granted, the imagery of my drawing isn't even close to that of his photo, but I appreciated the inspiration.

I haven't decided what my facial expression represents.  My personal interpretation varies each time I look at the drawing, ranging from pouty to beaten down to soul-searching to completely self-aware.  As always, I love the fact that this drawing has multiple possible meanings.  That's the kind of art that I like to look at, and it's the kind of art that I like to make...
#204 May 12, 2011,  Pen and ink wash
Sounds: Kiss, Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions

Day 203

This is just a bit shocking to me when I really think about it.

It took me 203 self-portraits in this series to actually make one using ink wash. This is a medium that I have loved for years, so it completely escapes me why I would wait so long. I will say, however, that its use even this time is born out of slight laziness; I didn't want to use the pen to to fill in the darkness of the blackbirds, and decided that ink wash would be much quicker. (It was.)

This was a lot of fun - there will be many more...

#203 May 11, 2011,  Ink wash and pen
Sounds: The Avett Brothers, Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 202

This self-portrait is even looser and more spontaneous than yesterday's.

After finishing some work on the computer last night, I decided to close my eyes "for just a minute". At 4:30 am, Austin woke me up and asked why I was still awake - I suppose he failed to notice that my eyes were closed and my chin was tucked into my chest!

So, this is a 4:30 am drawing. I felt like I was able to shake the sleep from my eyes just enough to create a passing likeness, and the bird sharing the outline of my forehead was an interesting touch given my state of mind when the drawing was made.

With that said, I would like to complete the next self-portrait a little earlier in the day!

#202 May 10, 2011,  Pencil

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 201

This is another drawing made in a state of complete exhaustion. After several hours of yard work in the hot sun, pitching batting practice, and overall mental fatigue, I sat down to make today's self-portrait. It was a double whammy when I drew a complete blank regarding what the artwork would actually look like; I went from pencil to Sharpie to colored pencil and ultimately to ballpoint pen.

I will say, however, that I really like this drawing for some reason. While it's true that the proportions of my features are not accurate, the effect of the red linework is compelling to me. This is not the first drawing in this medium, it will not be the last...

#201 May 9, 2011,  Ballpoint pen
Sounds: Pearl Jam, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003) (Disc 2)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 200

As I look back over the past 200 self-portraits, one thing that strikes me is a distinct lack of color. (That's part of why it's here today.)  A bit of an explanation: I would dearly love for each piece to be a fully realized work of art. But in reality, I simply don't have several hours each day to devote to making the artworks in this series.

Fortunately, one of the unspoken goals of this project is being met: while making an artwork each day, my drawing skills are getting better and better. I realize this sounds like an little amateurish statement, but every artist should strive to improve their skills each and every day, whether they are a hobbyist or a Michelangelo. 

I know I've mentioned this before, but something that has come as a welcome surprise is the fact that many of these self-portraits have become "sketches" for larger scale artworks.  I like the ideas that this one is giving me...

#200 May 8, 2011,  Watercolor and colored pencil
Sounds: Pearl Jam, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 199

Although it appear to be the case, this self-portrait wasn't inspired by Andy Warhol's Triple Elvis. It wasn't until the drawing was well-underway that it occured to me that there was quite a similiarity.

The best part about this artwork is not the finished product, but the circumstances that it was made under.  As seems to be the case the majority of the time, the drawing was started very late at night; everyday activities and a lack of inspiration conspired together in a way that found me sitting in front of a blank sketchpad at midnight wondering what the day's self-portrait would look like.  Taken with the fact that I was getting more and more tired with each passing minute added to the frustration of not being fnished with the day's work.

Right about this time, Austin returned from an evening out with his friends.  It would be inaccurate to say that he inspired today's drawing, because it was merely a coincidence that my idea came to me right as he arrived at home.  He sat down with me and we talked while I worked.  To say that he doesn't have a lot of interest in art-making for himself would be a bit of an understatement, but he seems to have respect for what I do with my art.  We visited a bit about drawing processes...and baseball...and cars...and friends...and life.  And before we knew it, an hour and a half had gone by and we were still talking. 

I know we probably could've gone on for hours, and that was a pretty great feeling.  This child and I spent a lot of time butting heads when he was younger, and while I would be lying if I suggested that we didn't still have those moments occasionally, I can say without a doubt that our relationship is better and stronger than ever.  And I know he feels the same way.  This is something that I would put right up there near the top of the list of things that I'm proud of in my life.

No, today's self-portrait has nothing to do with the story that accompanies it.  And that's fine; I'd rather focus on the story anyway...

#199 May 7, 2011,  Ink


Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

A special nod goes to my two favorite Moms:
~ To my mom, Pam Norris - thank you for raising me to be the person I am.  I have always appreciated the fact that we've always had such a great relationship.  I hope I can continue to make you proud each and every day.
~ To Shana - you are a fabulous mom to your kids and a wonderful "step-mom" to my kids.  I am so happy to be making this family with you and am proud to share our lives together.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 198

When this drawing was made, I had several things on my mind - good thoughts and bad, and those that were somewere in the middle. Like a lot of other people, I feel like I can do a lot of good thinking with my eyes closed. There's something about blocking out a bit of the "sensory distractions" that allows a person to focus a little more clearly on their thoughts.

#198 May 6, 2011, Ink
Sounds: Butch Walker & the Black Widows, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart


Get better soon Pat!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 197

Some days, it's just one of those days.

I try very hard to live by the mantra that if a person is frustrated by certain things, actions, or events, then they should consider whether it will still really matter in a year, or two, or ten, or even a lifetime away.

This is good advice.  But unfortunately, the answer can rarely be a simple yes or no, as much as we might like.

Sometimes it's merely an individualized perception from different sides of the same thing, and everyone is technically right based on their own viewpoint.

Sometimes things in and of themselves are not a major issue, but if allowed to continue they could lead to a chain of events that do make a big problem down the road.

And sometimes considering whether something is really frustrating is a frustration itself!!

#197 May 5, 2011, Pen

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 196

This self-portrait looks nothing like my original idea.  On the other hand, I'm not sure the beginning thoughts were terribly organized in the first place!  All I knew was that I wanted my face to be a balloon...and that was it.

While making this drawing, I was struck by the fact that it looks a lot like a page from a coloring book.  The irony is that I hate coloring books!  In fact, I rarely let my kids have them when they were younger; rather, I encouraged them to make their own drawings and then add color.  Staying inside the lines was always optional...

#196 May 4, 2011,  Sharpie and pen

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 195

The Ancient Romans were so incredibly skillful at creating a likeness in portraiture that they felt they needed a new "challenge" in the art-making. This challenge came in the form of adding the element of the subject's personality, in addition to simply what they looked like.  This was a huge step forward from the idealized figures of the Ancient Greeks; true, their sculpture was skillfully crafted, but merely resembled the subjects and would be difficult to be labeled as "realism."

This trend continued with the artists of the Baroque era, who stretched beyond the idealized faces and figures of Renaissance art.  One of the best was Rembrandt (whose self-portraiture is an influence on this project), who emphasized his subjects' personalities and emotions perhaps even moreso than their likenesses.

I have been accused of being a moody, grouchy person.  And I'll admit that I have an occasional bad day - hell, we all do.  And I will also admit that the appearance of my self-portraits have tended to perpetuate that notion a lot of the time.  I've often explained that this is simply the way I choose to portray myself on any given day.  But today was different: a particular chain of events led me from being merely irritated, to downright angry, and then all the way back to nearly ecstatic.  And that is when this portrait was made.

But aside from that situation, I think this self-portrait probably captures me perhaps better than the vast majority of the previous artworks in this project.  I don't take too many things seriously and am always ready to make a joke or quote a goofy line from a movie.  I prefer to be light-hearted and am an extreme optimist.

In other words, this is pretty much the real me...

#195 May 3, 2011,  Ink

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 194

The imagery looks painful and just a little scary today, but it actually comes from some different places. In my mind, there are two interpretations for this self-portrait.

One way to look at it is that I'm moving very fast.  This is a busy week for me; between the normal day-to-day tasks, it's also finals week, there are various appointments for the kids, and I have a big yard that's in desperate need of being mowed.  It may sound stressful (and truth be told, it is), but I think that's just become my norm anyway.  On the other hand, I have always moved rather quickly: I talk fast, I walk fast, and I tend to keep several things going at once. 

My other interpretation for the drawing is that something is moving toward me.  A casual observer's first thoughts might cause them to think of the wind, but I prefer to go further.  Perhaps it's incredible music played at ear-shattering levels, or an abundance of breathtaking images, or simply the passage of life a being lived. 

This self-portrait was honestly a lot of fun to make.  In fact, when it was finished - rather quickly, I might add - I actually wished I could have worked longer on it...

#194 May 2, 2011,  Ink
Sounds: Foo Fighters, Wasting Light

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 193

I can't say that I was very motivated to make art this evening. After a long and tiring day, I wasn't interested in sitting down with my sketchbook. Nonetheless, I was prepared to beging working at nearly 10:45 pm. Then a text came in asking if we had heard the news.

Osama bin Laden has been killed.

I'm not an overly patriotic person, but I am fully aware and appreciative of the country that I live in. This is a big day in the history of our nation, and I prefer to let that be at the forefront. Enjoy the self-portrait, but we should keep our eyes on the bigger issue at hand and watch how it affects our near future.

#193 May 1, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: MSNBC News Coverage of the death of Osama bib Laden

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 192

I needed this drawing. Lately it seems that most of my self-portraits have been started excessively late at night. Life happens and forces this to be the case; if I didn't have to wake up early the next morning, this wouldn't be an issue. But . . . I do, so it is.

Tonight was a different situation, however.  While the drawing was still started late, there is no reason to wake up early in the morning.  In other words, I was able to devote an unlimited amount of time to this portrait.  While I love working loose and spontaneous (as has been the case for the majority of my recent drawings), I always have a blast when I can return to my detail-oriented style for a bit.

I've been sitting on this idea for about a week.  I knew the basic outline for where it was going, but I didn't have the details hammered out.  I started with a giant version of a turtle, a beetle, and a chicken, and I was originally going to be riding in a Roman chariot.  Obviously the basic story remained the same, although the details changed significantly!

#192 April 30, 2011,  Pen
Sounds:  Outkast, Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below