Friday, October 21, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 364

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 363

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 362

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 361

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

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

#361 October 16, 2011,  Pen on vellum

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 360

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

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

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

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

#360 October 15, 2011,  Pen on vellum

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 359

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

#359 October 14, 2011,  Pen

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 358

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

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

#358 October 13, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 357

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 356

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

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 355

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

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

#355 October 10, 2011,  Pen

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 354

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

I'd better get to work!

#354 October 9, 2011,  Pen

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 353

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

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

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

#353 October 8, 2011,  Ebony pencil

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 352

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

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

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

Now...when does Spring Training begin?!

#352 October 7, 2011,  Pen

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 351

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

#351 October 6, 2011,  Pen

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 350

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

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

#350 October 5, 2011,  Pen

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 349

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 348

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

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

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 347

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 346

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

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

#346 October 1, 2011,  Ballpoint pen

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 345

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

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

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

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

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