Tracing a face—Self portraits the early works to present
Looking back at my early beginnings help me pause and look forward. One thing I have done since my early days making art is creating self portraits. It has always been a cathartic act helping in healing various emotional states or simply just marking a moment in time. I have gathered a selected group of mostly very early portraits all between 1989- 2015 ( most here are before 2005). This is a look at some of my earliest self portraits done in my teen years through my adult years well over 30 years! Luckily for me, fairly early on in my life I felt it important to hold on to my artworks I created and document them as markers of chapters in my life.
A few early teen year self portraits I made when I was 15,16 & 19.
Some more high school and art school portraits circa 90-97
Heading into the 2000's my materials focus shifted with more of a focus on acrylic paint.
Around 2004 just as my efforts to exhibit and work with galleries was really taking off I suffered a tragic accident that broke my left thumb nearly severing it leaving me unable to paint with my left hand. As a left handed person originally I was devastated not being able to use my left hand at all during the first stages of healing and therapy.
I couldn't sit by and do nothing so I began training myself to paint with my right hand. Now to this day I am ambidextrous. I suppose that is a bit of making lemonade out of lemons.
This portrait was the first painting I did after the accident with my right hand. 'Broken Wing Bird Girl'
Now this next image I painted in 2001 years before my accident and was more of a metaphorical portrait and therapeutic work that I created about a very difficult time when I just felt pretty helpless. Looking back now if it feels more prescient.
Below are more recent-ish self portraits that I have done over the years including photographic self portraits, drawings and paintings. I believe self portraits can be healing, playful and simply a reflection of humanity either exposed or hidden.
The self portrait can be a powerful tool and I will always do them as long as I am here to. I have created a recent art journal where everyday I would start out with a cartoon outline of my body filling it with metaphors and symbols and words that at times can appear comical in looks, similar to to the game Operation (see final line art below from recent journal).
Being able to keep this visual diary throughout the bulk of my almost 5 decades alive helps me cope and navigate this at times very complicated scary life. It is definitely a coping mechanism and I am so happy to have had that tool at an early age.
And perhaps if you have stumbled onto this post or came here knowingly, maybe seeing all the years worth of work might inspire you to know you can document your life however you choose. Tell your story no matter if most don't get the punch line. Tell it for yourself first, the others will follow and find you.
This visual documentation of my life is really a visual encyclopedia of my mind and life. These are my cave paintings finding my way out of the darkness and cultivating the person I am today.
Ok well enough about me ;). Hope you enjoy the deep dive into my self portraits.