Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Pretending to be Frida

When I want to draw or paint I frequently default to flowers, but my other default is self portrait.  I have no desire to hang self portraits on my wall so I do them in my art journals and I do them more as a portrait of the me in my head so I don't look in the mirror or at a photo of myself.  I often do them fast and scribbley, making myself accept whatever ends up on the page and accepting that it has value.  That means I also have to accept blemishes, just like in real life and if I drop a blob of paint somewhere unintentionally I may just have to live with it.  Sometimes I just do a pencil sketch and sometimes I use colour.  I usually do them fast and don't let myself over-think it.

It may seem a bit narcissistic doing self portraits but then nobody could accuse me of making myself pretty.  That's one of the reasons I do self portraits more often than portraits of other people.  I don't want to offend any of my friends!  It's also an exercise in expression for me more than an attempt to render a likeness.  I am more interested in suggesting a mood or attempting to represent how I see myself rather than what I may actually look like.  I can take a photo if I want to see what I actually look like.

More often than not I draw myself with a short bobbed haircut, which I think is perhaps my subconscious trying to tell me that is the haircut that feels the most me.  I have not worn glasses for a very long time so drawing the glasses on is a bit of a challenge because the me in my head doesn't have them.  The real me grins a lot.  But the real me is also very self conscious about her big chicklet teeth so I never want to draw myself grinning.  I have challenged myself to do so.

In this one I decided to be humourous and I drew my eyes in that slightly crossed-eyed look I get when I'm staring at the camera lens.  I did this picture school child style and used a pencil drawing and watercolour paints.


This one is a warm up scribble sketch and so is the pastel image below which probably looks the least like me of all of them and is the one I like best.

This last one above is done in acrylic and with less speed than the others but still sort of impulsively without thinking too much.

Frida Kahlo said that she painted self portraits so frequently because she is so often alone and she is the person she knows best.  I can relate to that I suppose, and I am also the person I would worry the least about representing badly.  To me, painting a self portrait is similar to writing down my thoughts.  It's just a different version of it.  Much of what I paint is from inside my own head, more than from representing exactly what I am looking at and I think again that is because I am so often alone and so often at home.

After I create a portrait of myself, in looking at the woman I have drawn I frequently find I don't see her as me so much as an alter ego, part of me but not all of me.  If you would like me to paint your portrait and make you ugly please let me know.  I would love to but would feel better with permission.  I will get your face shape all wrong and probably give you bobbed hair, but you will get lots of nice colours in the background.  I promise.


30 comments:

  1. Hee! I would love you to paint me ugly! Although I did a fair job of that myself. See my post Insight into Aspergers. Sorry, can't work out how to link it. Anyway, I love the scribble hair on the black and white one, and the cross eyed look is priceless! So glad to see you have a little energy to paint :-) Jazz

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    1. I love that painting you did. I just went back and looked at it but I remember seeing it the first time. I love the colours and lines in it. Do you hang in anywhere in your home?
      Okay, I am definitely going to paint you. It's a good thing I'm not taking paid commissions because my timeline could be quite unpredictable. It will be fun to use all the bright colours and patterns I associate with you.
      xo

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  2. I agree with you about self-portraits (both in writing and in painting). I do the same. :) I love the scribble sketch - it has a character, and also warmth and soul about it. And the last one is fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing, Shawna! You have so much talents, and painting is obviously one of big gifts you have.

    Paint me! I don't care how pretty or not pretty - if you feel inspired some day, just do it! :)
    I totally understand what you say here. It's expressing what's inside of you, it's not the outer likeness what counts in art.

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  3. Oh I would love to paint you! You are so naturally colourful and I love to make portraits really colourful. I am excited now that I am getting volunteers for torture, err I mean portraits!
    Really lose scribble sketches, with many lines and smudges and an imprecise look are one of my favourite things. I really should do more of them. I could make a whole journal that is just scribble sketches.
    I would love to see some of your paintings sometime.
    xo

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  4. always love to see your art!
    and i can totally understand how therapeutic it can be to paint a self portrait. miss kahlo is the best example.
    but when i was drawing and painting actively i don´t made self portraits. and when the art teacher asks for i got a headache...
    but all my fashion figurines looked like a abstraction of me. haha.
    xxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate, I would love to see your fashion sketch-self. I've never had an art teacher, but did take a seminar once and that teacher gave me a headache all the time. She did, however, totally push me out of my comfort zone and ultimately pointed me in the direction of my natural style. So actually I owe her a lot of thanks.
      xo

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  5. Its a shame Miss Simmonds Says stopped blogging, her painting style and yours are remarkably similar.
    I love these, Shawna. I adore your use of colour and the self effacing humour that shines through. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Vix, for your positive comments. It's always nice to know someone responds to my art. That's what it is for, really. Clearly I am not a realist when it comes to art-lol. I cant keep purple out of the skin tone. I once made a friend a bit too green. Generally green is not a good idea.
      xo

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  6. The scribble-sketch is fabulous, but I also love all the colours you use. Perhaps each version shows a different side of you? The final painting is wonderful. Feel free to do me if you like - being pretty isn't something I care much about anymore so sketch/paint away! xxxx

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    1. Thanks, Curtise. I am drawn to ( oh I will pretend I meant that pun ) both simple pencil and charcoal sketches using only black, white and grey, as well as wildly and not terribly realistically coloured images. I'll put you on the list of friends to be tortured!
      xo

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  7. I love these! You are so talented. The scribble-sketch is my favorite. I would definitely not call it a scribble! I am so impressed.

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    1. Thanks, you are so sweet! The scribble sketch is turning out to be everyone's favourite. LOL it just goes to show it's best not to overthink things.
      xo

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  8. Only once an opportunity like this arrives, I'm not gonna waste it! I'd love if you could give my portrait a go and I will love the result, I just know it! You are a very special woman and you let your creativity shine in many ways. You show a kind of wisdom in the way you go after your creativity.

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    1. Yes, when I am dead and famous your family will pass down my scribble sketch of you for ages and say, oh this was done by that famous blogger! LOL What lovely words you have left here for me today, Angie. Thank you so much.
      xo

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  9. Wonderful post! I don't thinking drawing self portraits is narcissistic (taking selfies is more narcissistic :D) This is a great therapeutic exercise. It's interesting how the mind sees you depending on the mood and memory. If I have to draw myself it would probably be with a cool, bouncy hair :D

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    1. I love your hair. I will draw you with big bouncy hair if you like. LOL. For most of my life I would have killed to get my hair to do what yours does. It refuses to and the shape of my head does not cooperate either.
      xo

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  10. A talent I wish I had. I'm jealous. The best I can do are stick figures...and even they are questionable :)

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    1. Well the secret is to call them ugly portraits and then people's expectations are lowered. ;-)

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  11. Paint me ugly(er), please! I was a 3D artist for over 10 years and I miss it terribly. You're really very good, you know - and you don't have "chicklet teeth" LOL!

    Alicia
    spashionista.com

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    1. LOL-Okay Alicia I will put you on my victim list! What did you make when you were a 3D artist? What materials did you use and did you create abstract or realistic pieces? Dressing yourself is a form of art so now YOU are the 3D art.
      xo

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  12. These are really incredible! I love how different they all are, but still share certain traits that make it recognizable as your style.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. Is that recognisable trait bad drawing? LOL. It's like handwriting isn't it. I can't help but have my own style just as we all do with anything we make with our hands including our handwriting. So maybe someday people will go to an art gallery and say oh look there's a Picasso and there's a McComber. And you can say, oh I knew her when she was just scribbling crap. ;-)

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  13. Oh Shawna, these are great ... the cross eyed one is a hoot ... but my favourite is ... yep ... the scribble sketch.
    Sounds like you are going to be very busy ... but if you ever find the time I'd love to see your version of me too :0)
    xx

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    1. Thanks, Jo! It's always the most fun if I don't take it seriously and just play. I am working on scribble sketches of all my volunteers now so I'll do you next!
      xo

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  14. These are great Shawna. Every year I go to the national portrait gallery in London to see the BP portrait competition - there are such a variety of portraits In different styles. I always think portraits must be really difficult to do. I see you have plenty of volunteers to be subjects for your kind offer but you are welcome to add me to your list if you are not sick of portraits by the time you have worked your way down the list. xx

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    1. If I were sick of portraits I would have stopped doing them years ago. You are on the list and I'll tackle you soon. Portraits that actually look like the person, yup difficult to do and takes talent. Portraits like mine, well that's another story! ;-)
      xo

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  15. You are going to be so busy! I bet you wish you didn't offer to paint everyone, ugly or not. And of course I want you to paint me, too!

    I love all your self-portraits. It's interesting that the one you like best is the one that looks least like you. And you know it doesn't look like you. What do you see that you want to be in that one? Did that sentence even make sense?

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    1. I will add you to my model/muse list too Val! I like knowing I have lots of faces I am permitted to play with. I started to paint my neighbour once and then stopped because I thought that might be creepy. LOL

      Yes, it made sense and I think I might have to ask how much you are going to charge me per session if you are going to be my analyst. ;-)
      I probably like it because it doesn't look like me and so is more interesting to me. I draw my own face because it is very familiar and I have lots of access to it. I like something new though. Sometimes I just draw faces I have imagined and the pastel portrait seems to be a blend of me and my imagined faces. I also think that pastel woman has better hair.
      xo

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  16. I think they are lovely!! You work really well with your materisls. And I couldn't possibly mind!!! X

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    1. Thank you Kezzie! I will add you to my list of model/muses!

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