I almost never do self portraits. They feel too much like I'm secretly indulging in vanity. I can't help but think they're somehow not honest. Am I portraying myself how I wished I looked? Am I trying to seduce the viewer, or attempting to show a quality I wish I had? These questions always come up when I sketch myself, and pretty soon I've abandoned the drawing. I mean, we all want to look attractive, and it's hard to let that go when you're deliberately posing and presenting your face.
So I did one straight forward portrait and was quickly disappointed. It looked fine technically, but it was boring as hell, and those old fears about naval gazing crept in. So I decided to draw myself making the most ridiculous faces I could think of.
Here's what I learned/remembered:
1. Hot Damn! I can draw some shit!
2. At art fag school, they were always drilling into me, "Draw what you SEE." You're brain will make things look like you think they "should". That's not actually what they look like. A good test is to turn the piece upside down. Perspective problems, poor composition, all the tricks your brain played will fall apart.
3. Speaking of drawing what you see, I drew a bunch of hands this week. Now they totally creep me out. They look like fat little squid feelers attached to my arms, and I can barely stand them. If you spend a lot of time really studying your body parts, shit gets weird. I need to draw some feet for a project, but now I'm avoiding it.
4. I was surprised that my favorite piece out of the series is probably the least attractive portrait of me I could possibly do. (The first one/Scrunch Face)When you're not trying to look pretty, you can really focus and amaze yourself.
5. When I go out, I try to put on a little makeup. Powder, mascara, lip gloss. For these, I pretty much rolled out of bed and didn't even bother brushing my hair. In most of them, I'm wearing the same tee shirt for several days. It's funny that for people I'll probably spend less than an hour with on the very rare occasion, I'll get dolled up. But for these portraits, where I have to study the true picture of my face, flaws and all, and immortalize it not only on paper but on the internet, I couldn't have cared less. All of these drawings have some beautiful moments in them, and they have nothing to do with makeup or awesome clothes.
6. Although I've never thought poorly about my looks, my perspective about what I believe makes me attractive has certainly been challenged by this series.
7. The most fun part about this was the responses and encouragement I've gotten from people. Bridget really went for it and tagged the photos on Flickr with amazing descriptions. She is hilarious!