How To: Self Portrait

Here’s the scene:

It’s dark, mostly because it’s nighttime. Also because I live in a basement.

Sirens howl from a few streets over and I can hear our dog pacing back and forth in the yard above. I’ve been sitting for what feels like the whole day. My chair is squeaky, my desk is a mess, my word document only has two words on it: Christina Wolfgram.

All of the creative energies I have been working up all day are sizzling in my elbows, but obviously writing doesn’t seem to be the right outlet. My Crayola watercolors whisper, “Painnttttt with uuussss.” It takes me a second to realize that it is actually my voice and my hands moving the watercolor set’s cover up and down like a plastic mouth. I have hit The Low Point.

Once I put my computer far, far away, I think about what to paint. I already painted a burrito, so I’m kind of strapped for beloved objects. Maybe it’s time, I think, to try to paint realistic looking people! But then there is the problem of who to paint. What if I paint a picture of someone I know and then they find it and I am exposed as the creeper that I have all the potential to be?

I should have painted a famous person, I really should have.

But instead, I painted a self portrait. When it was done, I thought it was really boring and stupid, so I added in some stars and birds and trees because those are things I love. Here is the painting as it was when I went to sleep:
Please take a minute to laugh it out.

Are you done yet?

No? All right, I can be patient.

Okay, seriously, can I finish my story now?

So I wake up today and see the painting and do a coffee spit take. WHAT. THE. HECK.
Who do I think I am? Leonardo DaVinci? I don’t have the beard to pull this off! I’m still using Crayola watercolors. There are BIRDS flying out of my NOSE.

I ignore my first instinct, which is to light it on fire and feed it to coyotes, and leave the painting on my desk for a while. When I come back to it, I try to look at it for potential. What can I do better next time? Can this “art” be salvaged?

After some editing on my strange, Japanese version of fake Photoshop, I have for you, a new finished product:


Don’t you just automatically feel better about anything you have ever created?

The real reason I am posting this is not just to show off my awesome Photoshopping techniques, but also to remind you (okay, myself) that sometimes it’s okay to let art be a means to an end. It’s the journey, not the destination. It’s the procrastination, not the homework.

So, if you are going to have birds coming out of your nose, at least enjoy the feeling of release. Paint just to paint, sing just to sing, clean my apartment just to clean my apartment (thanks in advance)! Good luck, beauties!

If you ever want me to paint someone you love (not paint on them, but of them), my contact info is right here! My portraits are clearly great for Halloween and for breaking up with someone on Valentine’s Day!

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