If you are new to this series all the images are based on recent photos of me after basically being fed through a neural network (which can change age, gender, etc.), then edited and painted using various programs. None of the people actually exist, and thus they are like self portraits from alternate universes.
There will be a left “panel”, making this another diptych, like my last piece, below:
Unlike the prior piece, this time I switched to my more drawing style. It’s a different sort of challenge and produces different results. It’s less painterly and photo-realistic, but more obviously done by hand, and shows more interpretation.
Here’s the final image as compared to the neural network’s older version of me:
What the neural network produces is useless as art, and looks horrible blown up, but is intriguing fodder for a new kind of portraiture. I think my version looks significantly different if one spends a little time with it.
And here’s from the original phone snap to the final product:
I mentioned this before, but here it goes again — even though the photo on the left is the real me (which I never include in this series!) I now envision myself looking much more like the one on the right. The original looks too young to me. While working on it for a while, when I go in the bathroom, I’m surprised that I look younger. This is a curious bi-product of making repeated older images of myself.
The drawing process is somewhat simple. I put a blank “canvas” next to the older version the neural network produced, and then I copy it according to how I see it, making some changes, and producing an original image. Here’s an early in-progress screen shot:
This is a pretty standard rendering approach in which one blocks in the general shape and color, moving from the general to the particular. When people just copy mechanically, like Chuck Close and myriad photo-realists, they tend to work in one little section at a time, and not on the whole at once.
Here it is a little later:
Yes, when working digitally, you can flip the canvas instantaneously, which really helps to see your work freshly. People who use traditional mediums will do this by holding their paintings and drawings up to a mirror.
Here you can see how I enlarged the ears and made them stick out more (the original is the segment on the right):
And now for some close-ups:
I’m not a traditional or academic portrait artist, and my preferred M.O. is to work entirely from my imagination without premeditation, but my portrait skills are improving.
The left side will allow that kind of expression, because I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It will happen in the process.
I like that this series works on multiple levels. On one level it’s just portraits, or self-portraits of sorts. But then it incorporates AI, and represents an exploration of digital painting technique(s), some of which I invented. It explores age, gender, circumstance, identity, race (stay tuned), the relation of the self to the self, hyper-reality, alternate realities, and “the human condition”. It evolves and tells a story.
Some of the characteristics that hold it together as a series are:
- None of the people depicted exist (in the closer versions they don’t exist as depicted).
- All of the people are based on recent photos of me.
- All of the images are a collaboration with AI to some extent.
- All of the images are digitally created (a new avenue of fine art).
- All of the images are completed by hand (yes, and it’s not easy to draw/paint with a stylus on a tablet, either). Each stroke is done individually…
Some of them include imagery pulled from movies (Network, Japanese monster movies…); some have stylistic references to modern and contemporary art (Francis Bacon, Richter, Cindy Sherman…); others are a tableaux of my invention (the prisoner, the lobotomized girl…); and there’s also a performative (think “acting”) element in others (scowling, screaming, devious expressions…)…
There are other dimensions I’m going to open up in coming pieces. But first will be the left side of this piece.
Here’s the whole series so far in a slide-show.
Or you can see them in a thumbnail gallery. Just click anywhere inside to go into the screen-show mode.
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.
Or go directly to my account.
Or you can make a small, one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).