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

18 Dec



Vanity compels me to post self portrait number two. This one looks so much more like me, and so much better than portrait number one.


While I’m at it, I’ll post a few more. This one is pretty and I had fun with the colors. it’s not quite me though.


Back to the smooshed nose and funny mouth of #1, but I wanted to try adding my hand. There will definitely be more of this. One can never draw too many hands, They are hard and require lots of practice. Eyes do too. Eyes are fickle because one errant line can change a whole expression. Using the oil pastels has been hard regarding eyes. I definitely can’t get in with enough detail, and I can’t erase those misplaced lines. I’ll do some work in pencil and concentrate on eyes, but for now, I’m having fun with the fat juicy color and looseness of the pastels. I plan on taking them to life drawing class and trying whole bodies.

Speaking of life drawing, I seem to be collecting a series of “Nudes in Chairs.” I kind of like where this is going. I’m out of Kraft paper though and will need to get more if the series is to continue. I also took a look back at some drawings I saved from art school. They are very careful, softly shaded colored pencil drawings not all that different from what I’m doing now. Either I have not grown or evolved much in the last 25+ years, or I have a voice to which I have not been giving enough credit.

16 Dec


So here it is, the first self portrait of the next 365 days.


I decided that starting on my birthday (15 December) was as good a date as any to start a year-long project. Here’s to what 47 looks like. Right now, I’m struggling with my glasses. The distance one’s don’t allow me to see the detail that I’m drawing, and the reading ones limit how far away from the mirror I can be. I opted to do this first drawing in fat oil pastels so that I wouldn’t worry too much about what I was and wasn’t seeing. Not sure why I made myself so orange though.

I won’t bother posting every drawing, but I’ll check in once and a while with interesting ones. I suspect that they will change in pose, media, subject (not always face only, or necessarily literal or realistic), etc. I have no idea where I’m going with this, but the ride should be informative wherever it goes.

12 Dec


Today is 12/12/12, one of those auspicious repeating number days. Our Twelve by Twelve group was lucky enough to be able to schedule our challenge so that the last pieces for this year, 2012, would be revealed today. Our theme was Sweet, and we’ve created some lovely interpretations, from the sweetness of sugary candy to the sweetness of a group of friends creating together. Check it out

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about an overarching project for next year. I’ve never really done one, and I’m not sure I want to add more commitments to my to-do list, but I’ve been thinking that a simple drawn (or otherwise) self portrait per day would be informative. I shy away from studying myself and I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t think I look like I do in my mind, or if I have a larger distaste for self reflection as that would infer a follow-up with self improvement. Last year I had tried to draw myself regularly as a way to get to know me, but I didn’t stick with it. Perhaps stating in public that I will do a 365 day project will keep me accountable and I will do it.

I’ve been thinking about these things as I sit and stare at the ceiling, or my computer, and wonder why, with all this time that I have (my kids are, after all in middle school and leave me to my own devices for six hours a day) can’t or don’t I accomplish more. I stared at piles of Christmas gifts today, incapacitated by my inability to stick in and wrap them so that I could package them so that I may get them to the post office. I did finally decide how they should be wrapped, and found appropriate outer packaging, but had dithered too long and didn’t have time to stand in line at the post office before the kids would get home. So I thought about accountability here. I thought about my to-do lists and my ambitions and the things I want to do but are lower priority than the things I need to do, or should do. I thought about Getting Things Done. And I may have thought up another 365 day project. What if I wrote, every morning, what my aspirations for the day were. Then, I could write what I actually did each day — to include time spent staring at the ceiling, or the computer screen, or picking up the dry cleaning. I suspect the lists would be quite different, though I’m usually happy if I can cross one thing off my to-do list each day. Maybe by the end of the year I’d be better at reconciling the aspirational list with the reality of what I can and do accomplish each day.

I won’t blog daily lists (or portraits for that matter) as I know that would only encourage me to spend more time at the computer. But, occasional checking in would help keep me on track. Now, to start today (and end on 11/12/13), on the next solstice (the 21st), on my birthday, or at the start of the year?

05 Dec

Adjusting the Process

I may be easing into a new way of working. As I focus more on drawing, it is only natural that I try to make a connection between my works on paper and my works on fabric. The connection need not be obvious or intentional — I’m just trying to be mindful of it’s possibility.


The last Twelve by Twelve challenge of the year is Sweet. It will be my last challenge with the group, so “Bittersweet” came to mind. As usual, I went to my working sketchbook and wrote down things that came to mind when I thought of sweet or bittersweet. Then, instead of going to my fabric stash, or being satisfied with rough little sketches, I went to one of my heftier sketchbooks and drew/painted studies of bittersweet. I drew two varieties of the plant, and painted abstractions such as the triangles in the page above, and a stylized berry pattern on another page which also included a drawing of a pile of dark chocolate.


I like the concept, and there are some interesting elements going on. But I’m quite sure I don’t want to be so literal as to recreate my sketchbook drawing in fabric. So often, something is lost in the translation when trying to recreate a drawing or a photo in fabric. The medium is so much a part of the message. So, what to do, what to do?

Somewhere along the way, keeping up with the doings of our teenage German exchange student, something caught my eye. She had posted a cute picture of herself and her sister on Facebook. A friend responded with “sweet,” but in German, which is “suess.” He used the extended German alphabet, with contracts the double esses to an eszet (ß), which looks to Americans to be a funny B, and changes the ue to a u with an umlaut (ü) — which looked to me like a cute little happy face in the middle of the word! Süß! How sweet is that?! You never know where inspiration will come from.

Now I’m thinking I will go with the typographic interpretation of Sweet and not the bittersweet aspect. So, was all the drawing and exploration of Bittersweet a waste of time? Absolutely not. It was part of the process. It helped me clarify. It provided me with a color scheme I will stick with, and options for details if I want or need them. I’m thinking that the triangles could reappear as a quilting motif, and the red berry pattern could translate nicely to embroidery…