10 Feb

Self Portrait Sunday

Oh, look at that — I didn’t post anything this week between Self Portrait posts. I will remedy that soon. I worked A LOT this last week on three aprons and a quilt. Nothing is quite done yet, but it’s all coming along nicely.

365:51. A pretty straightforward drawing last Sunday/Monday to start the week. I’m happy with it. This is like my “base camp.” I can always come back to it and regroup.

I was working with a pretty lace curtain and incorporating it into several pieces I’ve been making, so I drew my hand with it. I was deep into the making, so I didn’t get to a portrait on Sunday, but was willing to do two on Monday. 365:52

365:53 is a sharp turn off the track. Randomly opening a page in Wreck This Journal, I was instructed to scratch the page. OK, why not scratch a portrait? It’s ugly, but I didn’t really expect anything different.

Inspired by some fun doodles I saw on the interwebs, I traced a portrait I liked, transfered it to a new piece of paper and “colored in” 365:54 with doodles. Fun.

365:55 is ballpoint pen and watercolor. I’ve seen nice sketches done this way, and mine is not one of them. I’d do this combo again though.

Friday night I felt like using my colored pencils. I got in to the drawing and worked away at it. Then I stepped back and realized that I had lost my proportions somewhere along the way and now I look like a monkey! Oh well.

We had house guests Saturday, and were having too much fun to stop and do a portrait, so there’s no 365:57.

03 Feb

Self Portrait Sunday

Thank you all for your support of my rant, and for humoring me while I got those thoughts off my chest. Now back to our regular program.

I keep seeing people doing interesting things with painting apps on their digital tablets. So, I downloaded the Artrage app for my phone. It wasn’t quite as intuitive as I had hoped and ultimately I just made a silly mess for portrait 365:044. But one day I’ll get back to it and try again.

As I continue this project, I am refining my “rules” for it. I’ve decided that I don’t want to spend much more than 15 to 20 minutes on each portrait — otherwise I’d spend all my art making time on portraits and none on my textiles or anything else. Also, after talking with my friend Deborah, I’ve given more thought to what happens if I miss a day. Considering whether it was more important to have 365 portraits, or to record each day, I’ve come to a sort of middle ground. It’s fine if I miss a day or two. If I am in a similar mood, or a thought has carried over from one portrait session to the next, then I think it is fine to do several “make up” portraits. But, if the moment has passed and I’ve moved on then that’s OK too. So, there will probably be some gaps in the continuum, and there will be some days where I create more than one portrait. What there won’t be is a significant period of time that would not accurately reflect my daily state of mind.

After using my hair as a kind of stencil, I wanted to try printing with it (the hair, not a stencil). I missed a daily portrait, but the idea of making mono-prints with my hair persisted. So, I held that idea for another day and then when I had time, I got out my printing inks, a glass plate, and a bowl of paint and went to town. The prints did not turn out as I had hoped, but sometimes it’s like that. I chose the four best ones for my project but there are more that I trashed and a few more set aside. I may revisit this with a gelatin plate some day. Portrait 365:45 was made by dipping my hair in the paint and printing it on paper. The pen drawn frame is what ultimately pulled it together.

365:46 used my hair as a mask on the inked glass. There is not nearly the detail I had hoped for and I find the texture of the ink on the glass to be distracting for the hairs. I added white pencil later to create some focus.

I got all messed up in my numbering. This one is really 365:47 despite the 43 written on it. It is another dipped hair print with a border drawn later.

More messed up numbering. 365:48 is a print masked with hair and then dipped hair printed on top of it. Not quite what I had envisioned, but the process was kind of fun. Not to worry, all the paints were water based and washed out of my hair even easier than I had anticipated.

After all the silly stuff, I was feeling like I was cheating portrait-wise. I know it’s my challenge and therefore my rules, so if I felt like it was time for a more traditional drawing then it was time. I had a nice drawing session in the morning at figure drawing group, so I carried that home with me and did a “comfort zone” charcoal pencil portrait for 365:049

Then I realized I was a portrait ahead of myself, so I gave myself a day off. Yesterday, I was fully intending to do a portrait, but got caught up in a knitting do-over that consumed me. So, I took a photo of me shaking my yarn in frustration and played with layers and the Glowing Edges filter in Photoshop. What I’d really like to do is learn about masks in photoshop. They have eluded me for years.

27 Jan

Self Portrait Sunday

I really would like to be posting about something other than these self portraits, but I can’t seem to get much of anything else done, or find blog fodder in anything. I did go see the Dale Chihuly show in Richmond yesterday and it was wonderful, but my photos don’t do the work justice. I also spent two back to back weekends with art friends which were great chat about life and art, networking, and general involvement in the (somewhat) local community, but again, no photos, and I don’t really know what I could say other than I had a great time. Maybe a little quiet time at home will coax some words out this week.

Last we saw the self portraits, I was feeling the need to take the cutout filter out of Photoshop and put it in my own hands.

365:38 is just cut paper. My daughter was impressed that it looked like me.

Of course, that leads to the next step which is, “what would it look like layered with something more linear in Photoshop?” I used a couple of filters to reduce a photo to black and white lines and shapes and layered it, with some fun dot brushes to take the collage one step further. Not great, but a good exercise.

The next two days were consumed with adding an embroidered female figure to my Absence II quilt before photographing it on Friday. Luckily, the female figure is me, so 365:40 and 41 are self inherently self portraits and didn’t require me to fit any extra work into the day. I feel like I’m cheating with all these photos enhanced with the cutout filter, but I am really enamored with it. You never know what it’s going to come up with. I adore the “flowers” and red stitches in 365:40.

Trying out the canvas texture on 365:041. Garbage in, Garbage out.

Speaking of garbage, 365:42 can go straight to the bin. I forgot to bring any drawing implements or a decent sketchbook, so I ended up using my fat fountain pen on a hotel notepad while in NC. I was a hero that afternoon for having an ice scraper to share, so I drew that too. Along with a blind contour drawing, it’s all ugly. But at least I did something.

A little redemption last night. I was thinking about a sketchbook page I had done using lace as a stencil, and wondered what it would look like if I used my hair as a stencil… I kind of love it a lot.

21 Jan

Self-Portrait Sunday (on holiday schedule)

Since we had a four day weekend, Sunday was really more like a Saturday, which allows Monday to be more like a Sunday, and since it was Inauguration day, then it’s OK that this post is at the end of the day. But let’s not wait longer, there would be portrait overload.

So, back to last week, since I hadn’t actually done my Sunday portrait before the post.

365:29 Sunday was all about the knitting. I explored the subtle differences between the watercolor and paint daub filters in Photoshop. This one is paint daub.

I spent a good amount of time at my sewing machine on this day, so 365:30 is me at my machine a la the Photoshop cutout filter.

365:31 is watercolor with a 1″ square brush over a previously painted background. I DID NOT like it when I started, but as I continued it grew on me.

Back to actual drawing for 365:032. I do most of my portraits looking into this little round mirror (more on that later).

I was thinking about how to draw like I stitch and decided to make 365:33 like some of the straight stitch areas I enjoy.

I got un updated version of Photoshop so now I’m learning more about layers and transparencies. This was an experiment with an earlier pen drawing and a colorful page from one of my sketchbooks, which looked even more awesome after applying the cutout filter.

There is no portrait 365:35 since I spent the weekend with my friend Deborah.

I did 365:36 at her house though. The guest bedroom has an almost full length mirror. I drew my body from the neck down for the first time! The face is all messed up though — one of the risks of using just a fountain pen!

And finally, last night’s portrait, back home with my kitty. I can’t seem to get enough of the cutout filter either. I think I’ll go BE the filter right now and try a portrait with real papers!

13 Jan

Self Portrait Sunday

This might be the answer — a regular post with all the week’s portraits.

Last we shared, I had used my fountain pen in my Wreck This Journal book. Carrying forward, I used the same pen (this time sketching first in pencil) in my handmade sketchbook. As there was already paint on the page, I added some more, allowing the wetness to affect the ink drawing too. I need to work more with my watercolors to get more comfortable with them.

The next few days were lazy ones for me. I kept forgetting to set aside time to draw, so my default is to play with photographed portraits in Photoshop. Right now, layering and erasing parts to allow things to show through is my focus. This is a desaturated photo paired with a photo of a baking sheet. It has a nostalgic look to me.

More experimentation with layers, this time using one of my previous drawings. The look is not what I had in mind, so I may revisit it soon.

I spent most of the day sitting in front of my sewing machine, so it seemed natural to use teh machine’s point of view. Then I got to wondering how it would “see.” Would it have eyes like a fly? It would probably see me in stitches, but Photoshop doesn’t have a “stitch” filter. Maybe the next portrait needs to be a stitched one, but that will probably take more than the time I allot for each one.

07 Jan

More Portraits

I’m not sure if I should be posting my (mostly) daily portraits each day, or if it’s better to save them up for a once a week-ish post. Naturally, I don’t love them all and there are many I’d rather keep under wraps to save myself embarrassment. But, that’s not the point of this exercise. The point is to try things, and to actually take a hard look at myself and my skills, along with establishing a schedule of regular drawing and creativity.

I now have each portrait posted individually in my Flickr set, so it would be easy to just post them here the same way. I may try that for a while.


This is the same photo as #14, the swirly one, but I’ve used the “cutout” filter in photoshop. I love this filter! It makes everything look cool. One of these days I’m going to just go straight to colored paper with my scissors and try to be this filter myself.


See, totally cool. I added some leaves with a paintbrush before using the filter which brought in some nice accent color.


We spent two days in Washington DC which did not leave me with any time to draw, so once again, I’m relying on photos. Unfortunately, garbage in almost always means garbage out and even my favorite cutout filter couldn’t save this crappy photo taken in the Metro. It does honor our day in the nation’s capitol though and for that I’m OK with it.


Inspired by a poster I saw at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, I recorded descriptive words of my New Year’s day. Though I started the day feeling horribly hungover, I recovered pretty fast and the kids and I had a wonderful afternoon.


The next day was all about the fabulous but fabulously painful shoes I bought and wore to a reception at hubby’s work. I experimented with layers and a texture photo in Photoshop, but I think it looks pretty amateur (which is what I am, so I don’t know why I’m surprised). There’s no where to go but up from here.

365:20 and 21

Oops, I skipped a day and had to do two portraits on one day. Perfect opportunity to compare dominant and non-dominant hands. I moved the mirror from one side to the other to further the effect. Darn it’s hard to draw with my left hand! It might be fun to do this again with a big brush or something else kinda clumsy.




Skipped a day again. My daughter and I both got the book, “Wreck This Journal,” so I decided to use a page for yesterday’s portrait. I used my fat fountain pen and did not do a pencil sketch beforehand, so some placements are off. I think I’m getting better with the no-going-back-and-adjusting pen. It was fun incorporating the facing page and it’s directive too.


Since it was a two portrait day, the second one started with a photo. I used the Photoshop eraser to soften the edges, and then applied the watercolor filter. It’s not as great as the cutout one, but I like it just fine.


I like the accountability of posting all the portraits to my blog, but is it terribly boring for readers? Should that matter? Is a once a week synopsis better? Less repetitive?

28 Dec


We’ve got house guests again, but I’m keeping up with the self portraits. Clockwise from the upper left are 365:9 — my house shoes, 365:10 — sticking with the fine point marker of the previous portrait, 365:13 — inspired by my morning’s success at life drawing group, and 365:11 — a blind contour drawing in black followed by another in green and then colored in in a few places just because I felt like it.

In the weekly drawing sessions I attend, I enjoy drawing the longer poses (20 to 30 minutes) in charcoal and chalk on kraft paper, so I figured I should try that at home too. I am quite happy with 365:13. My favorite part of my self portrait? The chin/neck area that is only defined by the dark hair shadows.

Speaking of the hair, I find that it is always in my face. I get to drawing and each time I look up my hair has redefined the contours of my face. There’s also so much of it that I get tired of drawing it (you’ll notice it always sort of trails off in the drawings). The hair has a definite impact on my portraits. Therefore, I must feature the hair. So, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and amused myself by taking photos of my hair from as many angles as I could manage. The next day, I started combining them in photoshop and decided I liked these two together (365:12).

I was still having fun playing with the photos and a few filters in Photoshop. It’s not earth shattering or cutting edge of Photoshop capabilities, but I like it, so here’s self portrait 365:14

22 Dec


One week in to this daily portrait project and I’m still doing it.

Some things I’m learning: I keep making my eyes and glasses very big (check out my nifty new glasses though!). The portraits are necessarily short (less than 30 minutes) otherwise I’d never have a chance to do anything else. Skipping a day is problematic because doing two in one day is tiresome (note the top two drawings — the left one is nice, the right one I aborted). Stopping mid portrait to let the kids in the house, answer the phone, or work on dinner messes with my momentum and pose and is therefore also problematic. Oh, and I have way too much hair to draw.

Some things others have noticed: I look grumpy. Will we be seeing 365 of essentially the same pose?

I’m doing these portraits from life. It’s not easy to strike a pose in a mirror and then leave the pose to look at the paper and then return to it to draw again, and so on. Smiling adds another degree of difficulty. Maybe I’ll include some drawings from photos. Maybe I’ll draw other body parts (I’m living in my cute mushroom house-shoes these days and have been tempted on several occasions to draw them). Maybe I’ll take a favorite drawing or photo and do several versions in different media such as stencils or fabric. I’ve got time — there’s still 357 days to go.

Just in case anyone was wondering if I’ve given up fabric and stitch, I’ve not. I’m working on several aprons right now. One is a reworking, two are new concepts.

Take two