Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 283

Sometimes the self-portraits in this project have strayed from the original intention and sometimes they remain true to my vision. Today, I stayed pretty close to what I first had in mind.

I was looking for something rather graphic, something with hard-edged clean lines. I think if anything, I'd call my "style" somewhat schizophrenic because I catch myself all over the place with what my imagery looks like. Look through the portraits of any given 7-day period, and you'll almost always find a variety of styles and materials.

And I like that. A lot.

I've mentioned before that if I worked in the same style or same materials every day for a year, I would go nuts from boredom and the portraits would tend to look terribly boring. So, I'll keep mixing it up...

#283 July 30, 2011,  Pen

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 282


Me, at the end of a very long day filled with lots of hard work and sweat. Also, this was on the night before what will be an early morning, filled with lots more hard work and sweat!

Edit: And, it was a morning filled with rain, and I was right out there in it...

#282 July 29, 2011,  Ink

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 281

I won't lie; this idea came directly from an old Pink Panther cartoon. He bought a car (and painted it pink, of course) that was several sizes too small for his long legs and got into predictable adventures over the course of a four minute episode.

The real question is: how in the world did it happen that I would use that as inpiration?! 

The answer is simple: I have no idea!  It just came to mind for some reason and I ran with it...

#281 July 28, 2011,  Sharpie marker on brown paper bag

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 280

It's funny how things look different in various contexts. I completed this self-portrait in my sketchbook - I went a little "old school" and decided to work in pencil tonight. I was pleased enough with the drawing and, as always, I scanned the image in preparation for putting it online.

But then, when I saw the drawing on my computer screen, it looked suspiciously lke a police sketch artist's rendering of a suspect in a crime of some sort!

So...I'm not wanted for any crimes that I know of. And besides, it's probably pretty rare that a sketch of a suspect is actually a self-portrait...

#280 July 27, 2011,  Pencil
Sounds: Shinedown, The Sound of Madness

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 279

I really like the doodle quality of today's self-portrait. It reminds me of the kind of art a person makes when they are aimlessly making marks while their mind is occupied with something else. In fact, I find it extremely interesting how the drawings a person makes in those situations can fairly accurately portray their emotional state.

In this case, however, I was consciously focusing on this drawing so I was aware of what I was doing. On the other hand, the swirls are pretty light-hearted, so they technically create a good representation of my mindset at the time...

#279 July 26, 2011,  Ballpoint pen on brown paper bag

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 278

It's been awhile since I worked on a brown paper bag. My full intention was to use charcoal and conte as I have done several times during this project. But once a few preliminary scribbles were made in pencil, I knew that ink would be a much better option.

Despite the expression on my face, this drawing didn't come from a negative place. I was inspired, at least to an extent, by comic book and graphic novel illustration, which is an area that I actually know very little about, but would love to explore a lot more.

#278 July 25, 2011,  Ink and acrylic on brown paper bag

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 277

Lots of different thoughts, lots of different emotions.

My original idea was to make all of the faces a little more detailed. Ultimately, however, I really loved the simplicity once I got started. When it comes down to it, that's an important thing for artists to know: not only what to do, but what not to do.

In this particular case, I'm glad I was able to catch myself before going to far.

Truth be told, that sounds like a pretty great life lesson as well...

#277 July 24, 2011,  Pen on vellum

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 276

Upon first glance, I'll admit that it looks like I took the easy way out today. It's pretty obvious that making this self-portrait took very little time. And really, it's not even a picture so how can it be a self-portrait, right?!

For starters, I never said that every self-portrait would be an image. I've made it pretty clear that I don't believe it's necessary for a self-portrait to actually look like the artist. And while today's artwork isn't a physical representation of me, it absolutely captures who I am.

Here's how.

At different times in my life, I've been accused of being an extreme optimist - sometimes to a fault - almost always looking on the bright side even in the face of a gazillion reasons to believe otherwise. I would guess that somebody somewhere has said this phrase before, but I've never heard I'm taking credit for it!

It seems to me that if being an optimist means being a "glass half full" kind of person, then believing you can just add more displays an even brighter outlook!

#276 July 23, 2011,  Sharpie marker

And I'll add this postscript: the idea to do this self-portrait came to me early this morning.  I kicked around whether or not I really wanted to go ahead and use the idea or not because it is obviously borrowed very heavily from images found all over the place online.  But I really like the simplicity of the handwritten affirmations - simply black letters on white paper - so I was inspired.  And since the phrase is very much me, I ran with it.  Very late tonight, I sat with a marker in hand and wrote the words...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 275

The idea for this self-portrait came to me while I was looking at a blog featuring the work of a variety of artists. When I saw a very cartoony image of a couple characters, I knew I needed to steal that style for today!

Something that I always find very interesting about making art is the way that a piece can change as the creation process unfolds. In other words, yes, my idea came from someone else's art style, but as my artwork changed and became what it ultimately did, it was no longer stealing.  A more accurate way of saying it would be that I borrowed an idea, because my self-portrait and the original inspiration have so little in common that one would be hard-pressed to suggest that one really led to the other.

#275 July 22, 2011,  Acrylic and Sharpie marker on bristol board

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 274

Over the past couple days, I've had some of those conversations that can make your head spin from the seemingly endless back and forth of insults, accusations, and excuses that can never come to any resolution.  Essentially, one of the participants simply has to give up the fight and allow the other person to get the last word.

Over the past couple years, I've made several difficult choices. I'll admit that I should've done things differently and have made myself out to appear like a bit of a bad guy. I know that I didn't choose the best course and I am not proud of that part of my story. On the other hand, I know without a doubt that I have arrived at the destination where I should be and I have absolutely no regrets in that particular regard.

Ultimately, I know I was right.

Granted, being "right" is often just a matter of perspective. What is right for one person may not be for another. In fact, I think it's pretty obvious that in this world, just about anything and everything can be (and usually is) debated endlessly with both sides insisting that the other side is completely wrong.

So I have come to a realization: I've spent far too much time and effort trying to prove that I was right.

But the real realization is this: it really doesn't matter.

I know that I don't need any affirmation to prove or justify anything to myself.  I know that there is and will be issues that arise from decisions that I have made.  But what I've come to know is that with any choice that anyone makes, there will always be issues.  The only difference is that we only seem predict positive outcomes when we try to defend what WE "would've done" if we were in the same boat. 

The thing is, it should go without saying that no one can ever know all of the details about a situation except for those who were actually there and lived it.  Unfortunately, most people will only get a small part of a story, attempt to fill in the blanks for themselves, and then draw their own conclusions in the belief that they know exactly what happened.  That's a very sad reality about what we are as human beings. 

So, in the quest to prove that I was right, I shared things that are - quite frankly - no one else's business.  I can imagine that I've made some friends and family a little uncomfortable and uneasy with bits of information that "made my case."  Yeah, there's a LOT more to my story than anyone knows, and I think deep down, everyone realizes that there are two sides to the story, as well as various versions of each truth.  I'd like to apologize to those people for putting them in the middle of this situation.  It's shouldn't be about taking sides; it's all about everyone moving on and living our lives to the fullest. 

That's my sincere wish from this point on...

#274 July 21, 2011,  Watercolor

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 273

This is another one of those days where I don't have a lot to say about the self-portrait. Frankly, there wasn't a lot of inspiration or story behind it; it is what it is.

Lately, I've thought a lot about this project and what it's meant to me. I have absolutely no regrets about the untertaking and would do it again in an instant, but I've made a few discoveries. Likely the biggest is that it's a significant challenge to find the motivation to work with the same subject matter day in and day out, and to find new and interesting ways to create imagery. In retrospect, I probably had this in the back of my mind when I started the project nearly nine months ago, but it's something that I'm sure I should've thought through a little more.

I have a few thoughts recorded in the back of my sketchbook. Time to see what ideas are lurking back there...

#273 July 20, 2011,  Pen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 272

I was working on the house yesterday. I spent what seemed like hours on end hanging sheetrock and building walls - truth be told, I did spend hours on end sweating and lifting! Around 9:00 pm, it occurred to me that I hadn't ever stopped to eat dinner. I always find it extremely satisfying to be so in the zone of what I'm doing - whether it's making art, or working, or reading, or whatever - that I literally forget to make time for eating.

So, this is a pretty straight-forward self-portrait of me eating Chinese takeout. As a personal aside, I generally refuse to eat Chinese without chopsticks. I suppose there are probably many people in agreement, but I've always just felt like the food tastes better that way!

#272 July 19, 2011,  Watercolor
Sounds: The Black Crowes, Greatest Hits 1990-1999

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 271

Honestly, I'll admit that I haven't drawn using a mirror for a while. After the past several days of drawing in a particular medium and style, I mentioned yesterday that I was ready for a change.

It was kinda fun resorting to making faces in the mirror until I could decide what the self-portrait would look like; it's been awhile since I've done that!

#271 July 18, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: The Beatles, The Beatles (White Album) Disc One

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 270

Once again, I am experimenting with using only an ink dropper to make my self-portrait. Obviously it allows for quite a variety of line quality, and the spontaneity makes for some loose amd whimsical imagery. And yes, there is a degree of control that the artist must give up when working with this medium, which adds to the overall effect.

With that said, I feel like doing someting different. Sure, most artists have a style that they work in day in and day out that links all of their artworks to all of their others. However, for something to become a personal style, it must be able to stand the test of time and be relatively successful again and again, at least in the scope of the artist's own work over a period of time. If it's not something that moves the person, then it really won't work long term.

In other words, I've grown tired of this material and am ready to do something different!

#270 July 17, 2011,  Ink

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 269

I'd like to point out that the self-portraits made on three of the past four days have been made with just the ink dropper. No preliminary drawings in pencil. No brushes. Nothing.

Now, this is not to claim that they're fantastic drawings, because I wouldn't go that far. I personally think they're okay at best. I'm merely pointing this out for educational purposes (for lack of a better term).

This drawing was made after returning from a two hour (one way) trip to see two of Austin's ballgames. The games were both incredibly high-scoring (ie, LONG) and we finally made it back home right at 2:00 am. At which time...I sat down to draw. Yes, there's a reason why this one looks like a quickie!

#269 July 16, 2011,  Ink

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 268

On a recent short vacation to St. Louis, I finally found something I've been searching for and hoping to find for some time now: a wedding ring.

If you've been following along, on Day 207 I asked Shana to marry me, and she happily accepted.  Hers is a lovely vintage ring that had belonged to her Grandma.  She wanted something interesting and unique, and while it isn't technically a wedding/engagment ring, we both knew it was the one.

Like Shana, I was looking for something that was not the plain old everyday run-of-the-mill jewelery store wedding band.

We found it in a small shop that was just a bit cheesy.  But that's okay, because so am I.

It's a simple stainless steel band and wouldn't be described as very fancy.  But then again, neither am I.

It is a little taller than most wedding bands and I'd personally call it kinda unique.  Then again, I like to think I am too.

In other words, I'd say that it's pretty perfect for me.  In fact, I like it so much that I've decided not to wait until we actually have the wedding; this shiny band has already become a permanent fixture on my left hand and that's where it's gonna stay...

#268 July 15, 2011,  Ink

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 267

Okay, I will readily admit that today's self-portrait looks a lot like the one from yesterday. And I don't suppose it's really much of a coincidence either.

I liked yesterday's portrait a lot. I thought it was loose and whimsical and I had a fabulous time making it. So yes, I wanted to attempt to recreate that entire experience.

And yes, I did!

#267 July 14, 2011,  Ink

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 266

Vacation ended yesterday. It's always such a let-down to be excited for a journey, for a little time off...and then it's over before you know it. And then, of course, you come home and have to start back to real life with laundry, chores, you name it.

I was a little tired when this drawing was made. Okay, I was a LOT tired. In fact, I had napped for a couple hours and actually made the self-portrait around 2:00 am. But oddly enough, I really like it. I'll grant you, it's nothing terribly special or extraordinary, but I like the bubbly effect. I think it's a kinda nice reminder that even though we have those day-to-day frustrations, there are still some pretty great and wonderous things to smile about.

#266 July 13, 2011,  Ink

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 265

I have always liked a bit of duality. In this case, I love seeing both happy and sad together in one image. Perhaps it’s similar to the classic theatre masks featuring comedy and tragedy faces in conjunction with each other. It’s a fact that sometimes human beings can have some pretty vicious mood swings, and I’m probably a lot more guilty of that than the average person. No, I don’t like it, but I at least I realize this about myself.

In this case, the old phrase is true: knowledge is power. If a person knows that there’s something about themselves that’s less than appealing – perhaps a personality trait that they’d simply like to change – then understanding a personal weakness is the first step in changing it.

But from personal experience, this is a hard adjustment to make. It’s easy to say that we will make a change. It’s also easy to say that we will do something. But when it comes down to it, sometimes we all have characteristics that we’d love to rid ourselves of, but they are so ingrained that it seriously takes a lot of work to change.

I’m trying. I really am…

#265 July 12, 2011,  Pen

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 264

I really love going to a nice zoo, but it seems like any time I go the weather is always at an extreme. It's either way too cold (once complete with lots of snow!) or way too hot. Today was way too hot...

As we walked through the St. Louis Zoo, I asked Shana what her three favorite zoo animals are. Admittedly, I am a big list maker, so I was ready to share mine immediately after she told me hers. But with extreme heat comes extreme irritability, so she shot back with the names of three animals without putting too much thought into it! I can't blame her, though: it was a long day in what proved to be the hottest day of the year so far, which caused a couple young kids (and a couple adults!) to get a bit restless and ready to get out of the heat. All things considered, it was a nice time, though.

(For the record, my three favorite zoo animals, in no particular order: penguins, rhinos, and giraffes.)

#264 July 11, 2011,  Pen

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 263

I’m not gonna claim that this image is particularly original. It is true that when I sat down to make today’s self-portrait, I didn’t have a particular agenda or thought in mind. In fact, I essentially started with some loose scribbles . . . one thing led to another and . . . this drawing happened.

I do, however, like what the image implies: sometimes we all need to just keep our mouths shut for awhile. It reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode where a loud mouth man who talks incessantly goes to extreme measures to win a bet by keeping quiet for a year.

It’s true, I’m not sure that a person should go this far, but the thought is in the right place!

#263 July 10, 2011,  Ink

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 262

July 10, 1983.

I spent most of the late afternoon lounging on the couch, eating nearly an entire bag of potato chips. Grease 2 was on cable, and as I watched it for probably the 10th time, my 12-year old self was once again awestruck at a then-young Michelle Pfeiffer.  (It's funny that when I watch the same movie today, based on this particularly lame performance I find it amazing that she eventually became the star she did!)

When the movie ended, I could hear that my mom had finished mowing the front yard and had moved to the back, so I decided to help out.  I actually didn't mind mowing the yard and it was better than any number of other chores that I could've been stuck with.  So, I went out to the back yard and began pushing the mower.

We had a swing set in the back yard.  It's probably more accurate to say that we had a swing set frame, because there were no longer swings, a slide, or any of the other usual items attached to the rusty metal poles.  I've probably mentioned in previous posts that I consider myself to be very meticulous when I do virtually anything and mowing around the swing set was no different.  I found great irritation in those clumps of grass that would grow at the base of the poles, and I had recently discovered a way to allieviate that problem.  If I stood on my tip toes right under the swing set frame, I could barely lift the entire thing off of the ground and move it, allowing me to mow where the frame poles had originally met the ground.  I had done this numerous times before without any problem whatsoever.

That was not to be the case on this day.

I lifted the frame from the gound and walked it a couple feet out of my way.  Unfortunately, in a moment of utter carelessness, I walked right into the mower!  You've got to remember, this happened 28 years ago, and lawnmowers weren't equipped with the safety precautions that they are today, such as the handle shut-off lever or blade guards.  My left foot stepped right into the grass discharge opening and met with the spinning blade.

Fear set in!  I suppose it was an adrenaline-fueled burst of energy, but I sprinted around to the front of the house where my mom was sweeping the sidewalk; I got her attention and we quickly made our way to the hospital.  This was a Sunday evening, and the first thing I remember telling the nurses was that I had a baseball game on Tuesday night so I needed to get this taken care of as quickly as possible  Little did I know that the injury was much more serious than I could've imagined: I was sent to Research Medical Center in Kansas City, where I spent nearly a month enduring several surgeries, a couple crazy roommates, and a feeling of complete seclusion since I was 100 miles or so from home.  (In my mind, one of the worst parts was that I completely missed the three-week run of Return of the Jedi at the Plaza Theater back home!) 25 days later, I was finally released and headed home.

I've lived a pretty normal life ever since.  It's true that my left foot is pretty weird looking, but I've been able to run and do virtually anything I've wanted to since the accident.  It's strange to consider, however, that my foot has been altered for more than twice the number of years than it was normal.  It's just a part of me and I can't really even remember it being any different than it is today.

#262 July 9, 2011,  Pen

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 261

This was another of those infamous late night drawings. And it had been one of those days where I would've been just as happy to either end the day with bed at 6:00 pm or to drink just enough to land me somewhere between a slight buzz and falling down drunk. I chose the latter.

I wasn't terribly pleased with this drawing when I first completed it. After living with it for a while, I can see some very nice things about it. One of the good points is that it was made on a common manilla folder. The scan obviously looks a little strange with the coloration, but I think that actually adds to the overall effect!

#261 July 8, 2011,  Ink on manilla paper

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 260

There are a couple things that influenced the appearance of today's self-portrait.

I read with great interest about the recent death of American artist Cy Twombly. Frankly, I know very little about the man and his art, but while I would never have claimed him as an influence or artistic "hero", I do find his work to be quite interesting. I've stated on numerous occasions that I love art which appears loose and aggressive, and Twombly's scribbles definitely fit into that category. Interestingly enough, while it's hard to see it in much of his work, Twombly held the classical art of the Ancient Greeks and Romans (and their successors, the artists of the Renaissance) in very high regard.

Conversely, I read an article last night that questioned the use of the word quality when judging an artwork. In other words: what exactly is quality, and who makes the decision whether anything (artwork or otherwise) meets the standard?  In most cases, quality in the visual arts is judged on the merits of the European (particularly Renaissance) model of what is good and what is not.  Obviously the art made in those cultures had a relevance to the societies that made them, but should they still be used to set the guidelines for the quality of today's art?

I found all of this fascinating.  Is today's self-portrait a quality work of art?  By many people's standards, it couldn't even be considered a self-portrait because it doesn't include my likeness.  But the aggressive marks, the use of color, and the words are all things I felt at the time I was making this artwork.  A common and probably overused phrase comes to mind: Don't judge a book by its cover.  In this instance, don't even look at the cover; just look at what's inside.

#260 July 7, 2011,  Ebony pencil and acrylic on paper

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 259

There was originally supposed to be something coming out of the opening in the skull. I first kicked around the idea of some blackbirds (big shock there!), then a dragonfly, and even a butterfly. Ultimately I decided to leave it blank.

As viewers, are we waiting for something to creep to the surface and present itself? Perhaps whatever was inside has already escaped? Maybe the truth is that there was never anything there at all so the story is a bit anti-climactic?!

Oddly enough, I'm having trouble looking at this piece as the artist who created it; I seem to be associating more with viewers who have little to no information about the drawing. I really like this and I'm glad that I'm usually so elusive with the meanings of my art. It's great fun to look for interpretations of artworks and I like to initiate that adventure for my viewers!

#259 July 6, 2011,  Pen

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 258

I wear a smirk for those that stare at others with looks of disgust or contempt.

I feel a strong desire to climb up high onto a soapbox and question why some people are the way they are. Perhaps it makes them feel metally superior (it doesn't). Perhaps it makes them feel physically superior (it doesn't matter). Maybe it's just the only way they know how to express themselves (likely).

Either way, I like smiling...

#258 July 5, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Ratt,  Invasion of Your Privacy

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 257

After a full evening of Fourth of July festivities, I was tired. In fact, I didn't even have an opportunity to sit down to make today's self-portrait until after midnight. I was so tired that I actually contemplated laying down for a short "power nap" - to which Katey said "A power midnight? Um, okay..."

But I got an idea . . . and then I was wide awake!

I always get a chuckle out of the dance that accompanies shooting off fireworks. A person walks up to the fuse, then tries to balance themselves while struggling to see the fuse just barely enough in order to light it. Then of course comes a sudden recoil at the false alarm of an unlit fuse! And finally the sparks burst from the tiny fuse and the person scurries to a semi-safe distance away to watch, hoping for a tiny miracle that they will get some semblance of their money's worth for that particular item...

#257 July 4, 2011,  Pen

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 256

When I sat down to draw, I decided to listen to a little music. No, this isn't out of the ordinary for me, but what I noticed was that the combination of my head and the headphones created an overall long oval shape. I decided to run with it.

I probably wouldn't have portrayed myself with a smile tonight, but once this particular music was playing, I simply couldn't help myself. There are so many things that I love about music, but probably one of the biggest ones is the way it can shape a person's mood.

#256 July 3, 2011,  Pen
Sounds: Jackson Browne, The Best of Jackson Browne

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 255

After a couple of days with tighter renderings, I thought it was a good idea to loosen things up a little...

#255 July 2, 2011,  Pen

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 254

I always seem to get the most positive responses about my self-portraits when I've portrayed myself smiling. It's not that I don't like to smile, because I do. It's not that I'm not in the mood to smile, because I usually am. It's not that I'm a grouchy person. (Okay, not usually!)

Today is a nice smiley day. I've got a fantastic lady. I've got amazing kids. LIfe is pretty damned good!

#254 July 1, 2011,  Ink

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 253

In many respects, I am not the same person I used to be. And this is a very good thing.

I am much more confident in situations where I used to cower or take flight.

I refuse to be pushed around.

I am respectful in situations where it's called for, but that ends when the respect is not returned to me or those around me.

I am not intimidated by those whose only weapon is a loud voice and beligerent tone.

This all makes me very happy...

#253 June 30, 2011,  Pen