Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Child Story Project - New and Old Self-portraits

For my child development class we were asked to find a piece of artwork from our childhood, study it, and write a reflection on it. We were also asked to find a photo that corresponded with how old we were when we made the art. After that, we were asked to create a new piece of artwork, inspired by our older piece, that showed where we are now as an artist. The two pieces needed to be tied together somehow, whether in an obvious way or not.

I decided to use this picture that I found in a folder of old drawings of mine that my mom had saved. I was probably around three or four years old when I made this little pen doodle, which is a self-portrait. The actual drawing is really just a scrap of paper, measuring 3 1/2" x 3", and I was amazed that my mom saved this little scribble of a drawing. I've also posted the photo of my four year old self that I decided to use for this project.


Looking at this childhood self-portrait started me thinking about my current artistic tendencies. I have always loved drawing people, especially their faces. I'm guilty of investing the majority of my time on the subject’s face and often don’t spend nearly enough time on the background. That's not too far removed from this picture I drew when I was younger, which has no background whatsoever. People have always been my favorite subject to draw though, starting with cartoon inspired characters when I was younger and moving on to more realistic subjects as I've grown in age and experience. Studying this old drawing also made me realize that even now, many of my drawings start out with scribbled pencil lines, only to be refined later. But those initial sketchy lines definitely still have their roots in the same sketchy scribble lines that are in my old self-portrait.

My current artist style tends to be illustrative, leaning towards realism but inspired by fairy tales and other stories. For the past few years, my preferred method of working has been to start out on paper and to finish the picture digitally, so that was how I approached this project. The piece of artwork from my childhood that I was using was a self-portrait, so I felt it was only appropriate to do a current self-portrait. After taking some reference photos to use, I drew the initial picture on watercolor paper with brown colored pencil and then went back and painted over it with ink washes to establish a base to work from. Then I scanned everything into the computer and started the digital painting in Photoshop.

I knew that besides this image being a self-portrait, I also wanted it to reflect my current artistic interests. Art nouveau, especially the line work and compositions of that style, have been a big influence on my artwork for many years now. After studying the self-portrait I made when I was younger, I started picking out some loops and swirls that I had drawn in my hair that I felt would work perfectly for an art nouveau styled frame around my new self-portrait. So the frame is in fact directly based on the lines my younger self had scribbled for hair and eyes in my old self-portrait. The same scribbles from my old drawing were also used, repeated and rotated over and over, to create part of the texture that I used in the frame.

I also wanted this new self-portrait to be outdoors and to have trees in the background, since the photo of myself from when I was younger was also outdoors and with trees. The only difference is that now I am walking down a path instead of sitting up in a tree. I felt that picturing myself walking would be a good way to indicate that I am now on a new path in life, both with school, career possibilities, and my artwork. It's a new and exciting time in my life. Sometimes things can leave me feeling a bit nervous or stressed, but for the most part I feel like I am on a very good path right now. The decision to enter grad school was not a decision I made lightly. It's been four years since I finished my undergraduate degree, and I waited a while before applying to grad school because I wanted to make sure that I was really certain about the path I was choosing. The whole process was a cautious but confident decision.

Upon completing this project, I was quite amused to see the comparison between my two self-portraits when they are displayed side by side. A complete stranger might not be able to see any relation between the two, but the differences make me smile. I look at my old self-portrait and I can remember the countless hours I would spend as a little girl, drawing pictures over and over on whatever scraps of paper were handy. I can remember all the different stages of artistic development I went through, what my interest in subject matter was at various times, and my first experiences with new types of art and processes. I can remember all of those steps that have led me to my current artistic process. I am very much aware of where I am coming from, and where I have been, and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.

1 comment:

Rose said...

The web image of this illustration doesn't do it justice. There's really a great deal of fine detail visible in the printed piece. :-)