If you are new to this series all the images are based on recent photos of me after being fed through Faceapp (which can change age, gender, etc.), then altered in Photoshop, and then painted in Corel Painter. None of the people actually exist, and thus they are like self portraits from parallel dimensions or alternate universes.
The image I started with that FaceApp created had, I thought, a horror feeling to it, and my original idea was to give it a sort of Carrie treatment. Now when I look at it I don’t really see why I thought it had that feel, other than the girl has a vacant stare a perhaps a resigned expression.
I played around with some different ideas and then thought she might have undergone some invasive treatment as a mental patient — a bit less horror and a bit more One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She might be a bit of a vegetable, but she’s still there.
The wallpaper comes from an Al Pacino movie I was watching while working on this, and I just liked the look of it, which was 70’s, and I wanted a retro feel. The sign is part of an actual sign in an abandoned mental hospital. I cut out the part that said “Mental Ward” and the other numbers with an arrow pointing the other way in order to be more subtle, the stitches on her forehead being blatant enough. The shape of the scar is fictitious and it makes a half-circle around a small bump I have in my forehead that the camera picked up.
The blue cast and slightly faded look was very deliberate, kind of clinical, vintage, and otherworldly. If you were reminded of Giger’s inside cover for ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery, you were right.
Yup, the image above was the inspiration for the arced scar, though I extended it. Perhaps I should mention that I know a few people who have had major brain surgery and I certainly am not making light of their suffering or courage. I know people can read anything into an image and there’s a tendency these days to project the worst possibly interpretation on an artist’s work. I can’t stop people from doing that, but, for what it’s worth, the subject is intended to by sympathetic, and a victim of an attempt to mechanically cure her of whatever was seen as wrong with her. Think of it as a scene in a movie.
Well, I suppose it’s fairly transparent. I’ve found myself uttering at times that people would prefer me if I were lobotomized, so I’m going to guess her illness was not being a completely subordinate conformist who thought and believed what she was told, and didn’t want to toil away as an underling her entire existence. But the meaning isn’t fixed. She could just be overly sensitive and prone to self-destruction. Maybe she’s a kleptomaniac or an arsonist.
It’s quite sad, so I’m allowing myself to think maybe she survived the treatment and is still intact, and this is her looking in the mirror and recognized THAT.
There’s something about this one I find quite creepy, and it isn’t just the scenario. It might be the feeling of the 70’s, when I grew up, and the age of the girl which would have been roughly my age at the time, and maybe the glasses (I wore glasses starting in Kindergarten). This is #18 and when I look over the images in the series there are some that capture me more than others, and it’s not the ones that just look the most like me.
The one that most looks like me is #7, which is just me with a goatee. It was the first one where I wanted to include a male that wasn’t an old man (I like doing the old guys). Those are my real glasses and hair. I like it, but I don’t know that it says much about me, other than that I enjoy a good cup of coffee, and that part of life is perfectly relevant and necessary. I’m determined to not include any real pictures of me. They always need to be some other person is some other life. I never had a goatee in that coffee shop.
#18, however, is closer to the bone despite all the obvious dissimilarities. And so this is something very interesting about this kind of portraiture. I intended from the beginning for the intangible thread connecting them to be the real self portrait. Maybe it’s the thing I just wrote about where she recognizes that she is still there, still the same person — a visual metaphor for self-awareness, and in peril.
I had another interesting though, which maybe I shouldn’t bury in this post, but I’ll mention it again later. For me this is a very personal piece, though I can always treat it abstractedly as a conceptual exercise. Because it is personal, on some obvious levels, how can other people relate to it?
The answer came to me that everyone is an individual with a relationship to themselves, and the unique self-contemplation that this series represents may resonate with their own self-reflection. Maybe.
Above you can see some of my (digital) painterly technique. As I was working on this I got in a debate with someone who maintains that digital art is basically not as authentic as making a physical painting, doesn’t have the brushwork or details, and lacks the human touch. He said he appreciates digital art, but wouldn’t put it on his wall.
I had another debate with another guy who maintains that “digital painting isn’t painting”. I’m going to tear apart their arguments in an upcoming article, but the thing that gets me that I wanted to mention here is I rather think the proof is in the painting. I guess for them it’s not. I gather they would say that this work is NOT a painting, and lacks humanity.
And, even if this one didn’t make the cut, according to their stated convictions, neither can the next one, or any one I do, or all of them cumulatively. They are automatically disqualified as just not real art.
I have some good ones planned, though. Maybe I’ll win some more people over.
All 18 so far (in chronological order):
Stay tuned for more entities to emerge.
And if you like the (experimental) sort of art that I do, and you don’t want me to have to quit or put it on a back-burner, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art back on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). Ah, if only I could amass a few hundred dollars per month this way, I could focus entirely on my art and writing. See how it works here.
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