Building an "Emotional meme"

Our midterm project for my painting class was to paint a self portrait which incorporated multiple medias, as well as multiple styles. It had to tell something about ourselves, and let me tell you this: I angsted over it for so long. I couldn't figure out how to express myself, since, as I discovered, I am quite a contradiction. As my one friend said "you are bubbly but then you are angry". Well, apparently I am like this with everything. Happy one minute depressed another. Oh well. So this was a bit of an adventure in the self discovery department. I thought someone (not sure if there are a lot of someones) might find my process in doing this project interesting, since I love seeing other people's processes, so I decided to take pictures at the end of each "step". Hopefully you enjoy this documentation (littered with horribly taken digital photos) because it was fun to do.

Step 1: Cartoonization

Based off that absolutely horrid picture of myself I drew my face in my usual cartoony style. I never realized how stylized my work is until I drew this. It was a little odd. Anyhoo, this is the pencil version.

Step 2: Inking

I then inked the part of the image that I wanted to use. I think this is a neat contrast of my pencil work with my inking work. I might have to do some actual pieces like this in the future...

Step 3: The Background

After transferring a sketchy version of my cartoon face onto the canvas by means of tracing paper, I began to work on my background. Since we had to have outside influences, such as other artists or artistic movements, I decided that I wanted my background to look like the work of Moira Dryer, whose art I fell in love with. I was really happy with the figures which seem to come out at you, so I ended up cutting out a chunk of the painting that I had been planning on doing so that I could keep them as they were.

Step 4: The Painted Side

Once the background had dried I set about painting half of my face. I am really happy with how realistic it turned out, since usually my skin tones are rather lacking, as anyone who has looked at my art would know. Bah. I am very happy with the pink though and I am thinking I might have to carry this pinkness into my pencil crayon images.

Step 5: Alcohol

After all that painting I decided it was time for a pick-me-up while I worked on the next step. I found said pick-me-up in a bottle of pear cider. Yummy.

Step 6: Pencil Crayons

Next up was to colour the inked version of my face. I had to use pink for the skin tone so that it would correspond with the painted side. As I mentioned then, I am really liking using pink for the shadows.

Step 7: Using the Miracle that is Matte Gel

With Matte Gel (which is an awesome awesome product, ever versatile for prepping canvases and for gluing things to other things) I glued the inked and coloured version of my face onto my canvas. I am very surprised that it actually turned out since I was sure that the painted eye would be off center of the glued on one. Luckily I had no such problems. I then used a Sharpy pen to draw my glasses onto the painted side of my face.

Step 8: Incorporating Clay into my Project

Unfortunately I did not get to take a picture of this step since my dad had taken the camera to work. I had wanted to put clay on this piece right from the beginning. It was my master plan. My prof warned me that it might ruin what I had up to this point, but if I wanted to try then I should. So I did. I realized that if I were to just put slip (saturated clay) onto the painting it would crack and crumble off, as well, the colour would completely take away from the image. Somehow I got the idea that I should try to mix the slip together with acrylic paint. It was really fun to make, and I intrigued everyone in the studio as I did it. I made three different shades of "blonde" then used my fingers to smear it where I wanted it, using a blow-dryer to dry the area before applying a new layer. It turned out way better than I expected. When it was completely dry I put Matte Gel over top to make sure that it would remain sealed onto the painting, since I have no idea how this clay/paint mixture will age.

The Result

And here is the final product, a piece I am very proud of, and have an absolutely dreadful image of. The way I see it is that all the different medias show my contradictory sides and that the figures coming out of the background can represent my paranoia and neuroticism. I think I learnt a lot about my self and my psyche while working on this thing, which I think was what my prof was trying to do. Hopefully you find it as intriguing as I do.

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