Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Sketchbook Project/The problem of self portraiture

These images are from my work for The Sketchbook Project. My book is nearly completed, and just needs a few finishing touches. The book was a lot smaller than I anticipated - I think they have downsized since 2011 - and as a result I filled it very quickly. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I chose to document my actions at a particular time each day, purely because I had done this several years ago, and really enjoyed it. This time I found it to be a less enjoyable process. I think this is just because the past couple of months have been very busy for me, and having to stop what I was
 doing at a particular time to do this was a bit of an inconvenience. In a way, I'm quite glad that I can stop doing it now.
Over the past couple of weeks I've been working on a new painting, the first in a series on self-examination, entitled "Scared of Moths and Death". It's a self-portrait, and that has been a bit of a challenge. Often I've shied away from self-portraits, fearing that I'd be considered narcissistic or arrogant for painting them. A few months ago someone pointed out to me that all art is narcissistic and arrogant - we are taking something we have made and expecting other people to care. So I'm not so concerned now.
Still, self-portraits are difficult, and others have agreed with me on this. I think the biggest problem is that you cannot really be objective about your own physical appearance. It is much easier to do this when you're looking at someone else. When you are dealing with your own appearance it is very
difficult to ignore both your own insecurities about how you look, and the ideas you have about how you wish you looked. When I paint or sketch myself I seem to end up either looking like a supermodel or looking like a complete troll, and I don't think I reflect either of those in reality. Then even more insecurities come though, because I conclude I must be very bad at drawing, or just very, very ugly.
Thankfully this painting is turning out fairly well. I'm now at the stage of embroidering onto the canvas, and truthfully, I forgot how much more difficult it is to do that than to sew onto fabric. A few more days and it should be completed. I'm planning another portrait of myself as I am now, and then a pair of similar portraits of myself as a child. This will be interested for me, because I don't usually work with images of children. It'll be good to see how that turns out.
In addition, I'm writing brief texts about some of the 50 facts I'm using in the works, generally the ones I use as titles for the pieces. I've only been able to write one so far, but we'll see how this goes.

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