Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Self Portrait

It's been a while, hey?

Mostly because I've started uni again and that involves a lot of work. Notes piling up, information spilling out of your ears. Same old. But it's good, I love it. I'm taking two art history classes this semester so that's taking a big chunk of time away from things, and chemistry too (which is actually surprisingly my favourite class so far. That said, we're learning about stoichiometry right now and this might be where things fall apart, haha).

So anyway, in the way of art making I'm getting back into drawing this year. I've always drawn, yeah, but over the past few years I've really only done quick sketches and nothing major. But with travelling to and from uni four days a week, I've found drawing is a much more convenient way to make art than acrylics.

My current focus right now is the self portrait. It's something I've always been interested in but have never been game enough to do myself. It's basically putting yourself in the incredibly vulnerable position. You can see that when you look at portraits that artists have done of themselves. My particular favourite is this one of Van Gogh's:

Vincent Van Gogh
Self Portrait
September, 1889
I remember seeing this at Musée d'Orsay and not being able to look away for all the hurt and pain and anxiety Van Gogh managed to capture in this tiny, hauntingly beautiful portrait. Being able to see this painting in the flesh is an emotional experience. If you didn't know his story before seeing this, I think it's something you'd know upon seeing it. For sure. Because it's just painfully honest and in those eyes he has painted his whole life. This is vulnerability and it's admirable.

So naturally, the idea of self portraits does scare me a bit. How will people see me? Will people understand? How much do I say? These kinds of questions. But I'm someone who loves painting and drawing portraits, right? So perhaps one of these days I should explore the world of self portraiture, because it's important to understand yourself too. And sometimes it's just really nice to be heard, especially if words aren't your forte and there's little else you can do to express yourself.

I saw a couple of TED Talks the other day by Brené Brown. Someone recommended them to me because I was telling them about how I'm afraid to open up to people and how I fear judgement. In these talks, Brown talks about shame, the power of vulnerability, courage and worthiness. They really are worth watching.

"In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen." 
Brené Brown
 I'll let the Brown speak for herself here and get on with this blog post.



So after seeing these at least three times each, I decided it would be a huge leap forward if I embraced vulnerability. And I decided that the best way to do this would be through art, through the self portrait. And for the past month I've been sketching self portraits. Here's a few of what I've done so far:



Right now I'm working on an entry for the Derwent Art Prize (we got the flyers sent to us at work and I thought this would be great opportunity for me to finally enter an art prize which is, again, something I've never done so again with the vulnerability thing). I'll be drawing a self portrait in coloured pencils. Currently just working on composition and all that though.

Anyway, it seems like every year I have this new thing I want to explore in the world of art. I guess 2013 is the year for self portraits. I did say I would draw more females so that's two birds with one stone, hey?

Tell me how you feel about the idea of being vulnerable, what you think of the idea of self portraits, if you have any favourite self portraits that you've seen. Talk to me, ask and tell me things. I'd love to you hear from anyone who is reading this.

From Monica

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