A garden portrait

March 24, 2010

“Usually, I am an artist of a different sort: despite the world, I am a poet (if I could define that better, I wouldn’t be one).  Still, I have spent some time with drawing and painting, and the bespectacled man within this portrait is my own creation of a character of myself to comment upon my works.

The written word is always around me, and I personally see visions either in words or in the sound of words.  It is really rather hard for me to envision something concretely.  But to put sounds together, or string together words in an interesting way — that comes quickly, and flows out.  Which is why the whole sheet is covered in a scrawl.

I’ve quoted a favorite poet, added some of my own meditations, and that line of books in the background reveals my own shameful ambition.  I have picked a canon of poetry, from the Gawain poet to Pound, and placed myself at the end.

To be a poet, I think, is a very difficult task, and in its way is as precise as a Master painting.  Each stroke and each layer must lay the right thickness that lets a metaphor emerge without becoming too obvious.  My own work(s) are usually an emergence from the underworld, or a grail quest/argonautica.  So I added the grail, and I layered a green place I dearly love over a desert waste.

Because, quite honestly, I succumb all too often to a deep and black despair– that human sense of having known Eden once– if one could only remember.
I am not the center of my self portrait. I never could be, because, quite often these days, I seem to change with the act like a simplistic Wilde caricature.

More important than my self, or the objects layered over the garden/desert combination, is the greenery.  The central thesis, I suppose, is the ability of renewal of nature, the joy of spring coming into bloom.

My happiest times are well described in Andrew Marvell’s Poem The Garden:

‘Annihilating all that’s made,
To a green thought in a green shade.’

That’s why his book, in the rack behind my head (my influences) is given a Holy star.”

-Art and story by Harrison White of Corvallis, Oregon

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A paint-by-number portrait

January 13, 2010

“This is one of my best features … soft, warm and much friendlier than the crooked teeth they hide.”

-Koko from Portland, Oregon

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Screenshot while reading NYTimes online

I continue to challenge myself to read The New York Times online with complete ignorance of the advertisements; however, I am weak.  My eyes are drawn to the sexy images, flashy fonts, and familiar brand names.

While online, I was fully engrossed in today’s article. How could you not be intrigued by the emergence of love & marriage amongst first cousins? But my attention was yanked away by a thigh: A thigh belonging to a leg of a model in an advertisement promoting shoes for Jimmy Choo.

I couldn’t help but notice the unrealistic proportion of the model’s leg.  I get the fact that skinny is apparently always in.  I know there is currently a fight against our culture’s obsession with skin & bones.  We are currently losing.

Regardless, I’m still irritated by two elements of this ad:

1.)  If this model’s thigh truly looks like a child’s upper-arm, it’s repulsive.  Someone should give this woman help instead of a paycheck.

2.)  If this image was edited with Photoshop, and the model is actually a healthy thin woman, why does the fashion world still need to create this absurd falsification of a body image?

Yes, this ad was successful in that it caught my attention.  Congrats.  I never did return to my incestuous article, unfortunately.

More importantly to me, this ad was an absolute failure in our society’s struggle against eating disorders.  Send me screen shots that irritate you.

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Calling all judges

October 21, 2009

“Recently I forced myself into some deep soul searching. After days of introspective reflection, I came to the conclusion that I am shallow.

Actually, I would even go as far as to say I am a narcissist. So after all of this judgment on myself, I stopped. Took a step back. And asked: Who cares?

The only person who can really affect my opinion of myself is me. Sure, a boyfriend can have preferences of which I may try to accommodate. I may have to dress a certain way for work to be ‘appropriate’. Even society will have views and judgments on my outer-appearance. However, who are they to judge me?

I’ve spent 25 years letting society judge me. The only thing that has led to is severe depression, a hole in my wallet trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, and an overall sense of defeated self-worth.

So I stopped right there and forced myself to stop covering up my face with hundreds of dollars in makeup from the most lavish boutiques and bare it all to the world.

At first, I was intimidated by what I thought was judgment. Can they see the circles under my eyes? The size of my pores? Blemishes? Birthmarks? However, after a few days I forced myself to truly look at myself.

I started to appreciate my features. My wholly unique features that characterize who I am. Then I started to look deeper. My laugh is big and bold, just like my personality. My heart is open, willing to be crushed, but always a true romantic. My spirit forces me to continue on with charitable deeds – something I’ve always held close to me.

Sure, I’ve got an evil streak, but forcing myself to truly appreciate what I have and what I can offer made me realize that the only judgment is that which I place on myself.

My dear friend Kira once reached out to women everywhere to wear high heels, embracing height. I urge everyone to put yourself out there, naked to the world and force yourself to see how beautiful you really are. Go to a bar. Go to work. Anywhere. I promise. After a few days you will start to see yourself in a brand new light. You will find an inner confidence that will radiate from people to people.

Embrace your natural essence and see that there is nothing more fantastic that everything that makes you, uniquely you.”

-A self-portrait by Tina Alias from New Jersey.

It must be said that Tina has an absolutely contagious bolt of laughter.
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The dark side of Nej

October 19, 2009

Jenny created "Reflective" with acrylic paints

Jenny created "Reflective" with acrylic paints

“I’ve been painting and drawing most of my life.  I taught art at the middle school and high school level for 6 years and have spent the last three years developing a body of work and displaying it in various art walks and coffee houses in the Seattle area.  My favorite thing to render is the female face, and/or figure, and I love to create a mood and dramatic expression with the face.  Most of the paintings I have of woman’s faces have an air of mystery and depict sultry, sexy expressions.

"Sunshine"

"Sunshine"

Achieving likeness in general does not come easy to me.  This isn’t usually particularly a problem since most of my subjects are not real people.  Likeness is even more difficult when I attempt a self-portrait.  When I do try to paint myself, my representation usually resembles me the most in my facial expression and somehow I always seem to capture the expression I have when I’m pissed off.

When I painted the portrait I titled ‘Sunshine’, all in warm colors, I felt somewhat accomplished since it was the best likeness of me I think I had ever done.  However, once again I managed to look pissed.  My original intent was to give the portrait to my husband as a gift, but he hates the painting seeing as how my angry face is not something he fantasizes about being immortalized and captured in a painting.  We often refer to the painting as ‘Nej’.  This was a nickname my best friend in high school gave to me representing my dark side, or evil twin:  the opposite of ‘Jen’.

"Me and Spooky" created with oil paints

"Me and Spooky" created with oil paints

Since ‘Sunshine’ or ‘Nej’ was painted all in warm colors, I attempted to paint another self-portrait using a cool palette.  I hoped to achieve a more peaceful look with this one.  I do not look quite as pissed off in this one, but I definitely look more sad than peaceful or sultry.  This one is titled ‘Reflection’, but my husband calls it ‘Nej’ as well.

I haven’t attempted another self-portrait in a while.

We do have one painting that I did years ago from a photograph a friend took of me and my cat while I was in college.  This painting hangs proudly in our home, and looks like I did then, but is hardly a head on self-portrait.”

Check out Jenny Gini’s artwork and my personal favorite.

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Shedding brushes

October 18, 2009

We live in a country graced with freedom. It’s as lovely as a Renoir flower.

But do we feel the wild surge of freedom pulsating through our days? … our thoughts? … our emotions?

When is the last time your spirit felt truly free?

My messy mop

My messy mop

•I feel it when I am in water: the ocean, a rainstorm, a bathtub, a chlorinated pool, a puddle.

•I feel it when I flip my baseball cap backwards. I transform into a five-year-old, and it’s play time. On mile 18 of my recent Chicago Marathon, I turned my hat backwards out of a mental necessity. The gesture reminded me that I made the choice to run 26.2 miles.  I also made the choice to fully enjoy the streets of Chicago and to not quit.

•I feel it when my hair is untouched, unbrushed, and a messy disaster. I try not to use combs or brushes often.  It’s odd.

Find those moments in the daily minutiae of your life.  Savor it.  Share it.


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Be anonymous this Friday

October 9, 2009

oct09portraitA digital self-portrait created by Anonymous in Pennsylvania.  A happy holiday weekend to everyone.

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