Finding Flow in Your Self-Portrait

July 29th, 2009

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I couldn't let the month of "self" for the Creative Every Day Challenge go by without doing some self-portraits!! I did a couple quick ones today. The top one was originally done with some oil pastels which I took a picture of and then played with in photoshop with filters. It looks a bit like a mosaic to me and I like the colors, even if it doesn't look quite like me. Even if a self-portrait doesn't look quite like you, it can still be a great jumping off point for a piece of art.

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I did this quick drawing using a Pitt pen and I think it captures me much better. When the hubster came home and saw it across the room, he said, "Oh, you drew yourself! It looks just like you!" I laughed and thought, yep, captured the essence of myself there.

Having taken many art classes and gone to art school, I've done a lot of self-portraits in loads of different mediums, some more successful than others. One thing I've learned is that when I get too tight and controlled with them, the portraits feel stiff and forced. But when I let go of the desire for perfection and focus on capturing the essence of what I see in myself, everything flows much more easily. I also feel more connected to what I'm creating and generally more satisfied with the process and the results. Seems like a good metaphor for most things doesn't it?

I've been a bit distracted in the last week by the heat and traveling and a bit of house hunting (eep!), so please excuse the delay in announcing the theme for August, which is right around the corner! I'll be announcing the new theme tomorrow and I hope it excites you as much as it excites me.

More fun things to check out:

- I got a little mention on the "Embracing Your Creative Self" segment from Katheryn Tidwell Bieber on Tiffany Windsor's wonderful Inspired at Home blogtalk radio show. I really enjoyed listening to the entire show that aired on Sunday, but you can also just listen to Katheryn's segment here.

- My dear friend Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio is celebrating her spiffy new space today. Take off your shoes and head on over!

- The incredibly cool lady, I affectionately call the "other Leah" has opened up her own business doing web & graphic design. Leah Creates is currently running a special on Express Wordpress installation through August 1st, so if you've been wanting to get set up on Wordpress, this would be a great opportunity to make the leap!

15 Responses

I love your self portraits.

When I was just out of college, I did self portraits all the time. And i continued to do a self portrait a year on my birthday pretty much all the way until I had kids. I guess it’s hard to sit down with a mirror when you’ve got munchkins hanging off of you.

I meant to do some real self portraits, looking actually in a mirror, but never got around to it. But I do think that my art this month went back to being a reflection of my internal self, again.

These themes always seem to pop up, even when I don’t think I am doing them.

I’ve been thinking of doing a self-portrait, but more for the practice of drawing faces. Since there are only 2 in this house & one doesn’t like to be drawn, it’s left up to me. ;-)
I like the idea of manipulating the portrait digitally the way you’ve done. This sounds like a fun project.

I am never good a people faces, but I will try this one as indeed, it is “Self”.

Thank you for the plug, dearheart! I love that first portrait of you, even if it doesn’t look too much like you. =)

Love your artwork – as usual!

Leah, having seen a couple of your videos (most recently burning a journal page–yay!), I agree that the second one really captures you. Altough the colors in the first one were vibrant enough to wake me out of an overworked-morning stupor just now!

And I couldn’t let your note about perfectionism pass without a comment. ;o)

You wrote:
“But when I let go of the desire for perfection and focus on capturing the essence of what I see in myself, everything flows much more easily.”

It totally makes sense to me that this would be the case. I’m curious, though, if you can describe what that feels like internally? When you’re “letting go” and “capturing the essence”? (I realize it may be something intuitive that defies verbal description…still, color me curious!)

Thanks, guys!

@Michelle, that’s a good question. I just did a quick internal check-in to see if I could get to the feeling. For me, it feels like freedom. My mind gets quiet and I’m in my body more than my mind. I’m in that lovely sense of flow. A lot of it is a bit out of my ability to verbalize, but the essence is a feeling of lightness, freedom, and connection to something beyond my talky-talky mind. :-) I hope that makes some sense.

Hi Leah
As soon as this page displayed in my browser, I knew it was you! The second one is you, too! Well done to you.

I don’t care if July has flown past without asking me, I’m still doing my self portrait. It will happen, and it will surprise me.

I wonder where that insistence on perfection comes from? Few of us are perfect, or do things perfectly, yet this desire seems to crop up again and again. When people say “I am a perfectionist,” they might as well say “I practice flying every day but haven’t been able to get off the ground yet, and boy, are my arms getting tired.”

Rather than keep aiming for perfection in my art and failing, I aspire for something that reflects who I am, shows a glimpse of my spirit, reveals my heart. Is the result perfect? Hardly, but it’s real. And attainable.

Ok, Leah – you have inspired me once again! My last self-portraits, though brave and a good start, were too tight and self-controlled. I have been yearning to do a loose sketch-like one, like you did here with your Pitt pens. One that doesn’t strive to capture the exact details of my face but the *essence*. Isn’t that the point of my business name? When I can do this, I will know I am on the right track!

So my challenge before I check in next week is to do such a self portrait — with a mirror instead of a photograph.

Huge hugs xxxxoooo Arlene

I recognized you, too, before I read the URL or the byline. I love both your self-portraits! And hooray for focusing on the essence instead of grasping at perfection!

I like both portraits! the mosaic effect in the first one is really cool!

Just had to pop over quick and say Holy Awesome SP…Leah, your drawing is beautiful!!! It really does look like you….probably falling asleep :) because you put so much time into Creative Every Day!

btw…”self” was extremely eye-opening for me…thank you girl…you always seem to know just what I need….just need to take the time to let you know!

Congratulations on selling your house and best wishes as you prepare to “move on” how wonderfully exciting as you leave old pieces of yourself behind and examine the new ones emerging.

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