The Story Behind My Blurry Expressive Self Portrait Painting

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This oil painting was created during my last year of college for my Expressive Drawing class. It was a Self Portrait assignment, but we couldn’t draw our face, it had to be expressive. I was pretty stumped and not really inspired by anything specific.

At the time, I loved the Scuola Metafisica art movement, specifically the work of Giorgio de Chirico. His paintings had an unsettling and disquieting feeling that I really liked. And I was drawn to the weird scenes he painted that usually featured Roman statues, long shadows, mannequins, trains, and illogical perspectives. So, I decided to be inspired by that style in my painting.

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Mario and the Pizza

I love video games, especially the Mario games. I’ve been playing them forever and, like Mario, I love Italian food, my favorite being pizza. That’s why he’s standing there eye ballin’ that supreme pizza. the-persistence-of-memorySince the Metafisica movement was inspired by Surrealism, I made sure to add surrealist elements. I’m sure you’re familiar with Dali’s painting, The Persistence of Time. I painted my pizza like Dali painted those melting clocks.

The Mad Hatter Hat

The Mad Hatter hat was added because artists are a little mad. It’s hard to be an artist, and it just drives me crazy sometimes. Plus, I like Alice in Wonderland and was always inspired by Disney. I also love a good imaginative story. She goes on this crazy trip following that rabbit down the hole and I have such a strong imagination and love the crazy places life takes me. So, I thought the hat was able to represent all of those things.

Martini Glass and Fish

The martini glass was added because my senior year in high school, I joined this forum called the-spot.net, which was created by a guy named Neo, and he and a group of people all were members of this forum and got together regularly to play video games together. (A Lan Party.)

I made a username that incorporated the word martini and I still use the username today, and a lot of people came to identify me by it. martini4  I’m not a drinker, but I liked my avatar and the name. So, that’s why I added that. The fish are both a shoutout to the fish in Mario games and Surrealism because it’s strange to see creepy fish swimming in a drinking glass

Black and White Tiles and Long Shadows

De Chirico 2You can see in the de Chirico painting that it has a checkered floor. I always liked those floors and I like black and white, both visually and conceptually. I think there’s a lot of gray area in life, but I also see the extremes in life.

And you can see the long shadows created by the tall art tools I placed in the scene. De Chirico used long shadows and tall pillars, which you can see in the paintings above.

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Art Tools

I like painting, but I’m not much of a painter. I’ve created a few paintings both in acrylic and oil, but I was never actually trained in it. My favorite art tools are colored pencils and markers. Mainly Prismacolor. So, that’s why I added a colored pencil, a marker, and a paintbrush.

Music Staff

I love music so much and I have a very diverse taste. I like it all. I also played clarinet in school. Since music is such a big part of my life, I had to include it. I also wanted to make the music staff look a little like the smoke that comes from a train. I didn’t actually add a train, but de Chirico often did.

Balloon Clock and The Background

I can’t remember why I added the balloon clock. Maybe I thought time was just floating away??? I dunno. Looks like the time is 2:45. I think maybe that’s the time my art class was. And I think It’s also supposed to be the sun.

The background represents the Mojave Desert in Southern California where I grew up. I’m a proud Texan, but deep down, there will always be apart of me that is a California girl. I loved the mountains and the Joshua trees and my childhood was so happy and sunny and it’s a big part of who I am.

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The Tunnel

I added the “Tunnel” on the left to mimic the tunnel colonnades that you see in so many de Chirico paintings. I was so close to graduation and I was so burned out and just ready to be done with college already. Also, remember de Chirico often painted trains. So, it was supposed to represent “The Light at the End of the Tunnel.”

The letters SFA are the name of my university and purple and white are the school colors. And inside is a painting of trees, “The Pineywoods,” which is where Nacogdoches and SFA are located.

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The Finger

It’s hard to see but hanging above SFA is a rearview mirror air freshener of a finger flipping you off. I drove a 1966 Mustang and I had that finger hanging from the mirror for so many years. I loved “flipping people off” without actually flipping them off. And a lot of people associated it with me. Plus, I was flipping off college because I was so ready to be done.

The Sword

I actually don’t remember my exact reason for adding the sword. I collect weapons. I have a whole bunch of cool knives and weapons that are hidden and don’t actually look like weapons. So, I’m guessing the cool sword with jewels is meant to represent my love of weapons. I also didn’t put a shadow coming from the sword, which I did on purpose to give off the feeling that there’s something not right about it.

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The Mysterious Blurred Paint

Now, you might be wondering why the paint has been smeared all over the canvass. It’s actually quite a story for me and I hope you stick through ’till the end and read the whole story.

My Mustang was breaking down a lot so my dad got me this ugly brown Lincoln Town car as a backup. It was so raggedy! I wont even list all the problems it had, but it did at least get me where I needed to go. The door panel on the passenger side was broken and made it really hard to open. And the doors wouldn’t lock.

Well, I was exhausted and stressed out. I had a week or two left before I graduated and I was finishing up final projects for my classes. One rushed morning, I left my laptop on the floorboard in the front seat. The windows were tinted but I guess you could still see inside if you pressed your face against the window.

I have no idea who would look at that ugly car and think, “Hey, there’s gotta be something in there I want.” But somebody did.

I had a class, and when it was over I walked back to my car and all I noticed was my painting in the front seat. It was done in oil and it was still wet and it was due that day. Then I noticed that my passenger door wasn’t all the way closed. I was so upset about my painting that was due in an hour that I didn’t even realize my laptop was missing.

I contacted campus police to tell them someone broke in but I ended up, stupidly, telling them nothing was stolen.

Later That Night

That night as I was getting ready to work on a project for another class, it hit me. MY LAPTOP! It was in my car and it was stolen! I couldn’t believe it. My whole life was on that thing. Now, that laptop was just as raggedy as that car. I had it since Freshman year. And it had so many problems. One problem was it didn’t like to turn on when I pressed the power button. I had to balance it on my knee and push the button three times, then the 4th time I had to balance it on a stack of books and sneak out of the room, then hopefully when I came back it was turned on.

Ok, I don’t know if I had to do that, but it seemed to work. That laptop got on my nerves but I think it’s quirkiness is what saved me. I went to class and explained everything to my professors. They all understood but unfortunately, I wasn’t going to get a grade for the assignments still due. I moped around for a day until . . .

The Phone Call

The next day I got a call from some church on campus. It was a church that was right down the road from the parking lot my car was broken into. They were looking for me so that they could return my laptop to me. They said they found it in the backyard of their church. The bag was open and some papers were strewn about but the laptop was in there. They managed to turn it on and find my contact information. I wondered if God let them in on the trick on how to turn it on.

I ran up there and got my laptop back. I couldn’t believe it. I guess the thief tried to turn it on, but didn’t know the trick, and decided it was a piece of crap and just dropped it. My painting was smeared and I didn’t even get any feedback in class from the other students and I was feeling down about all that. But at least I got my laptop back and I was able to tell everyone the miraculous story the next day. Plus, I was able to turn in my assignments.

The Moral of the Story

Don’t leave your laptop in your car where people can see it! Just kidding, I don’t think there’s a moral of the story. I just think it’s pretty cool that I got my laptop back and I think the smeared paint adds character to the painting. I think it maybe even makes the painting better.

And it also adds to the self portrait. Even when something bad happens in my life, God always makes it turn out for the better for me. I learn something. Or a I grow. Or it ended up being exactly the way it needed to be.

If you read through to the end, thanks for reading the whole story.

 

 

Some Pics Around Town

These are just a few pics I took around town and at the park. Pictures 1, 2, and 4 are the main ones I want to share, but I went ahead and added the others too.

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I saw this on the way to the park. I like stuff like this that looks kinda junky or cluttered. I wasn’t planning to stop but then I noticed the No Mattresses sign next to the mattresses, so I decided to pull over and snap a few pictures. I didn’t even notice the security camera when I was there.

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Here it is again using the cross process filter and at a slightly different angle.

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I took this at Pecan Park. This bridge just got added a few years ago and I always want to get a good picture of it, but I never do.

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I liked the colors and the shadow though so I went ahead and snapped a few pics.

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I was trying to get an interesting shadow picture and I used cross process again.

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There’s another using the Retro filter.

Walking Around Downtown Nacogdoches-Color Photos

In my last post I shared the black and white photos from my walk around Downtown Nacogdoches, and in this post I’ll be sharing the color photos I took.

Before I Get Started with the Photos – A lil’ Artist Statement:

Lately, I’ve really enjoyed playing around with my in camera filters. The cross process, the toy camera, the low quality and high quality.

I’m also trying to just focus on things like shadow and light, sometimes overexposing and underexposing. Sometimes I’m focusing on the colors and the angles. I also shoot vertical just with the intention of shooting vertical instead of horizontal.

I’m just enjoying breaking rules and trying to capture something interesting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a perfectly exposed or perfectly composed, I just want to grab something cool and hopefully different.

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I’ll start off with the WoW building. If you read my last post, you got to see this bad boy in black and white. Nacogdoches has some great architecture. It’s one of the biggest tourist draws and very much worth it. I was standing further away and again, you can see the little black spots on my lens. It’s actually not too bad of a photo. I like that tree over on the right, and that fence at the bottom is apart of the Best Water Store. I purposely included both in the frame.

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Here’s the Fredonia Hotel, which I shot from a different angle in the b&w post. I purposely included the power lines at those angles, and the trees at the top and bottom. I shot it with the cross process filter. And my dog was pulling and yelling at the dog across the street who was pulling his human and yelling back at my dog. I’ve gotten pretty good at shooting while she’s doing that. I like how it turned out.

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Just shooting up at weird angles, vertical, including sky and shooting in cross process again. Not my most interesting, but I still wanted to include it because I like it.

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I like this one a lot. I just love the pastel colors and I thought it worked well in vertical orientation. It’s just a banal photo with some pretty colors and textures. The window was actually busted and you could easily crawl inside the abandoned, gutted, historical building. I didn’t though.

I included this one in the b&w post. I took different angles for these so that I could include the white building, the green overgrown plants, the blue sky, and the red building. I liked how all the colors looked together.

I didn’t care for these two photos but I included them so that you could see the colorful setting. Usually this place is so packed with people, that I can’t just go shoot in peace. People are always questioning me and taking me out of the photographic process. So, thanks to the lockdown, I grabbed my chance. I liked the pretty blue on the right, at some yoga studio, but the photo wasn’t very interesting. I just love the blue.

And here we have a green door. I took it both in vertical and horizontal. (Portrait and landscape.) I liked the lamp because it was made from an old bucket. And I thought it was casting a good shadow on that bold green. I just love how old and worn everything looks too.

And here we have a bright red wall and door. Another banal subject, just a bench with some flowers. I really liked that big ole’ shadow that I put smack dab in the middle of the image. One of those rules I was breaking, where you really shouldn’t put something in the middle like that. You need to obey the rule of thirds and all that. But, I like it.

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I found this fancy gold doorknob on the back door of a hair salon. I thought it looked neat shining in the light, and I used a high quality filter. I don’t use this filter a lot but I think it works well for this one. Not one of my favorite photos, but I still like it. I struggled to get an angle I was really happy with.

Well, that’s all the color photos I want to include from that day. I hope you enjoyed them and I think for my next post I’ll share some more pictures I took around Nacogdoches.

Walking Around Downtown Nacogdoches-B&W Photos

Usually downtown Nacogdoches has so much traffic zooming by that I don’t really like walking around taking pictures. It’s just so loud and stressful. But during this coronavirus lockdown, the town has become so much quieter and I was able to take some peaceful walks with my dog and my camera.

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I call it the WoW building, which stands for Woodmen of the World. Built in 1923, it’s one of the popular historical buildings in our area. It’s been photographed so much so I think it’s good to try to think of a creative way to capture it. I like that the building is too dark and I also like that I have three black specs on my lens that showed up in the image. It can be fun to shoot weird angles and let so much of the sky take up the image.

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I like how this one turned out. I like the angles and the way the light and shadow, and black and white alternate.  Another popular photo subject, the Historic Fredonia Hotel. I had some school events there, one in 8th grade for an etiquette class and again for some band competitions in high school. It’s been used for many things. I think it actually closed down for a while and was remodeled and reopened and is doing well again. It was built in 1952 and was called Hotel Fredonia. I think I like how that sounds better than it’s current name.

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Just a door in the back of one of the closed small businesses. I love how doors look. And I really like how the light and shadow turned out. I like how dark the shadows are and how bright the light is.

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Another door at The Best Water Store. I was playing around with the lens flare. Also, I’ve been trying to take more vertical orientation photos.

 

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There’s nothing particularly exciting about this one. I just like how it turned out. I like banal subjects like this and the shadow caught my eye. There were some construction workers to the left shakin their booties to some upbeat Mexican music.

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I was walking along this old historic building and I saw this through the window. I just thought it looked neat.

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Another vertical picture. And I love playing around with overexposing my light and underexposing my shadows. I was also careful to include those power lines in the corner. I really like how it turned out, it’s one of my favorites from that day.

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The last photo I’ll be sharing from that day, and one of my favorites. It’s just a chair with the light casting an interesting shadow.  Right after I took this photo an old truck slowly pulled up next to me and stopped. They took their time rolling down their window, and I have to admit I was feeling a little nervous. It was an old man, probably 80 something. He didn’t speak so I said, “Hello…”

Then he pointed at the business behind me and said in a slow East Texas drawl, “They’re closed…” I giggled and responded that I knew that, then he drove away.

Finished Phoenix Wright Drawing

My boyfriend requested that I draw a picture of Phoenix Wright yelling, “Objection!” for him. At his college, he was scolded for taking one that wasn’t even that great, but apparently it belonged to the school or something like that… I heard him talk about it so much, I kinda quit listening…just kidding, I always listen to him….A bunch were drawn by the anime club last year and this one didn’t belong to anybody apparently, but he was playing that game a lot and really wanted the image. He returned the lame one he took and asked me because he’s sweet and thinks I’m a great artist.

It took me longer than I wanted because I made so many mistakes on the first one that I just had to start all over.

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It’s not THAT bad but it’s too big. It’s not a great shape. I used regular sketchbook paper. It was too flimsy so I decided to glue it to some mat board. I forgot to buy spray glue so I just used Elmers. I tried to be so careful through the whole thing, but with the glue, I just glued it all willy nilly. And you could see the globs of glue underneath.

After all those mistakes I had to redo it, which was good anyway since I really wasn’t that happy with it. For the next one I tried not to repeat those silly mistakes.

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Here’s the redo before I was completely finished. I was much happier with the size and shape. I think the composition is much better and more impactful. I also used watercolor paper and taped it to my drawing board. I used prismacolor pencils and odorless mineral spirits to blend the colors. And the colors blended so much better on the stronger paper.

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There it is on the right with the nice clean white border. I thought the border was way too white though, so I decided to paint it black. I thought it would pull everything together nicely. Well…I made another mistake. I really just wanted to get it done since he had been waiting so patiently. So, I decided to use black paint instead of taking forever laying down multiple layers of pencil.

big mistake

What was I thinking? Yes, I have a college degree. I was taught by a talented group of artists who taught us not to do dumb things like that. It looked horrible. I couldn’t give it to him like that. I didn’t even take a picture because I had to get that border off immediately. I carefully sliced the border off using a paper cutter and I actually liked it without any border at all.

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Thank God I was able to remove the border and not ruin another drawing for him. And he was really happy with how it turned out. Yelling and screaming and being the happy weirdo that he is!

What Else am I Working On?

Besides that I’m working on finishing this Cornhole game for a customer. It took over 9 hrs just to remove the Cowboys stickers and clean up the wood to get it ready to paint.

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Before

I used a steam cleaner while watching Netflix.

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After

That’s just a starting background that I sprayed on using some pretty blue spray paint. I’m not quite sure what I’m gonna do from here. One will have a shark and the other one will have an octopus. And I’ll probably add some coral and other cool underwater stuff like that.

I’m also working with a new artist with her artwork, critiquing her and helping her figure out what she wants to do with her art. I LOVE her art so much. She’s self taught, mostly by me and her own hard work and dedication. She has such a unique and creative vision and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with as she continues getting better and more confident.

I’m pretty busy with these projects as well as a lot of other things. So, I’m making writing blog posts less of a priority. I hope to start posting more often very soon, but I just wanted to let you all know why I’m not posting as much.

Are You Ready to Improve Your Art?

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If you’re looking for someone to give you constructive feedback, I would love the opportunity to help you take your art to the next level. It can be scary to receive criticism about your art, but it’s a risk worth taking.

When I was in college, I was surrounded by other artists. I would look at their work to be inspired (and give criticism) and they would look at my art and give me criticism. At first, critique was terrifying. But it quickly became one of my favorite parts of making art.

Why? What’s so great about putting yourself on the line and hearing what people have to say about your art?

Improve – Whether you made mistakes or your work is as close to perfect as possible, critique will help you see your artwork better. It will ultimately help you identify your weaknesses and your strengths. You’ll strive to work harder and smarter because improving your art, and understanding how to improve it, is very rewarding.

Fresh Perspective – Sometimes we artists get too close to our work. You might need a fresh pair of eyes to help you see what you cannot see for yourself.

Bond – If a trained artist is giving honest, but kind feedback, you create an opportunity to bond with them. If you ask a friend or family member who isn’t an artist, they might not really know what to say. And they probably don’t want to hurt your feelings. So, they end up just telling you they like it. Or worse, they inadvertently hurt your feelings because they only point out what’s wrong with the piece. Which brings me to my next point:

Thick Skin – Creative people must develop a thick skin. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there creatively. The more practiced you are at receiving criticism, the better you’ll be able to handle it when someone bashes your art.

Free Will – Ultimately, it’s your artwork. It’s your vision. You can take it or leave it. Critique gives you the opportunity to practice free will and stand up for your artwork.

These definitely are not the only reasons why critique is so valuable to artists, but they’re some of my favorites. Art Critique is a new service I am offering. If you are ready to improve your art, go ahead and start today.

I’m offering 2 Critique choices:

  • A Quick Critique – I’ll take a quick look and give quick feedback. This is perfect if you just have a little bit for me to look at.
  • In – Depth Critique – I’ll spend more time and give more thorough feedback. This is perfect if you have a lot for me to look at.

You can find more details about my Critique service at the top of my blog, under Art Critique. Here’s the link: Go Here.

I can’t wait to look at your art, and join you in your risk taking adventure as an artist.

Tree Textures in b&w

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Lately I’ve been shooting textures in b&w. I think it was Ansel Adams who believed the beauty of the photograph could only show in a b&w image because it wasn’t competing with color. I love color photography, but there really is so much beauty in b&w photography.

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The trees in East Texas have really interesting and strange bark. I think this one is called a Texas Sugarberry.

I love the vines that grow on trees too. They even have hair on them. At least it looks like hair.

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I’m going to keep playing around with textures. I think I can come up with some cool images.

What do you like about b&w photography?  Do you think these images would look as good in color or do you think they would lose interest?