SFAU #33, by Eric Wayne. Digital painting, 18″x19″ @300 dpi. 5/7/2020. [CLICK TO SEE IT IN A NEW TAB SIZED FOR YOUR SCREEN.]

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.) — the popular app FaceApp —  then edited and painted using various programs. None of the people actually exist, and thus they are like self portraits from alternate universes.

Grumpy old curmudgeon semi-self-portrait. I was going for a wizened, weathered old man look, though I hope to never look this similar to Uncle Fester. I tend to favor the more ancient entrees in this series, partly because a series based on (extremely altered) selfies risks being vain, and the unflattering, too-close-for-comfort portraits delineating my possible aging trajectory help keep vanity to a minimum. Overall, I wanted a traditional, oil-painted-portrait feel, which is a bit different from the other pieces in this project.

A thought about a series of unsalable images

I’m sometimes shocked by how superficially some people think about art. I’ve seen people seriously argue that the way to determine the worth of art is by its monetary value. People argue that art is a commodity, and treat it like an investment or a way to move around money. And then there’s the ever popular criterion of if we could live with something hanging above the sofa.

As is usually the case, you just need apply the same standards to music in order to see how dim they are. Is the highest selling single the best song? Are MP3s an investment? Do we judge a song by whether or not we would want to hear it in an elevator, or always playing through a speaker in the corner of a room?

This series fails miserably by those sorts of litmus tests. But is it interesting? Does it communicated ideas? Does it cause one to contemplate their own identity and how circumstances could change it? Does it deal with the human condition and the nature of reality, time and mortality? Are some of the images memorable, and do they become part of your internal visual library? Does looking matter, and can subtle feelings, sensations, atmosphere, and information be conveyed through visual means?

I see art more like a poem. You don’t need it framed on a wall to process or enjoy it. The physical manifestation could be worthless, and you don’t need to own it in the first place. Popularity can be the consequence of marketing and an appeal to the lowest common denominator. What makes art good has everything to do with the effect it has on you, and nothing much to do with that other stuff. And if one sets out to make art for the living room, or to be popular, it may never rise above that.

That said, I am working on strategies to make more popular and salable art. There are such things as win-win sscenarios. And if I’m wrong and you do want a print of any of the pieces in this series, I’ll include it in my available prints. Come to think of it, I probably would put up a print of a non-existent person. Then when people asked me who it was, I’d have something to talk about.

The Genesis

This image is based on one of my prior pieces fed back though the AI, and then heavily altered in the painting process.

Left is #30; middle is what the AI did to it; right is what I did to the AI.

The center image, above, is the image on the left with a “male” and “age” filter applied. I was surprised by the outcome, though AI didn’t give him much of an ear; his clothes don’t make any sense; and he’s got some very serious swelling of the skull. I worked with the eyes, nose, and mouth.

The image quality the AI produced is also crap, and unusable as it is. Compare it blown up to the size of the final image in this eye detail [you’ll have to click on it to see a larger view]:

There was a curious problem in this piece which kept happening. I’d keep working on it and then not like it anymore, and then revert to an earlier version. Then I’d make some changes, not like it again, and revert back. In the end I just decided to stop making substantive changes, and finish up working on the details. The last file was named, “Last ditch effort”, as I was that close to giving up. Speaking of details…


Here’s the full piece again.

SFAU #33, by Eric Wayne. Digital painting, 18″x19″ @300 dpi. 5/7/2020.

And 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 here’s a page with individual posts about individual additions, with details, process, and so on: Selfies From Alternate Universes.

Stay tuned if you are interested in this series. I’m planning on hammering out the next 4 in the next month to complete the series.

~ Ends

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).


11 replies on “New Art: SFAU # 33

  1. You could really mess up someone’s tinder portfolio. Ha ha. I am fascinated by your process and the results. Thank you very much and sending love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I could, but they don’t need me for that. The app is getting really good these days, my part is just elevating it to fine art of sorts. Soon this series will be complete.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mike. The last one was about 10 times harder than this one, and I’m hoping to plow through the final 3 this month, one week each (thanks to being stuck at home because of COVID). You probably are liking my custom painting technique here, which creates a lot of textural detail, but it’s not illustrational detail. That’s quite a distinction. In truth, illustrational detail is much more difficult, and so there’s a happy medium. One wants enough control to suggest details without having to go through the rigorous process of analyzing and delineating each little thing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me anwer this in some detail because I need to answer this for myself.

      Well, by salable art we first need to acknowledge that in my case the contemporary fine art world is essentially out of the question. I know of now digital painter who has been given lip service, and you need to be in the right place and produce the right kinds of physical works to be a part of it. As regards my DNA, at this particular historical juncture, I need not apply. Therefore, my better chance is to get recognition in the more popular art world that primarily likes realist, surrealist, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy sorts of paintings. There are certain publications like Juxtapoz or Hi-Fructose that showcase this kind of art. There are galleries as well, but since I don’t make commodifiable, one-of-a-kind objects, they’re pretty much out. I can only hope to sell prints. As these publications have become bigger, they also tend to reviewing art that is shown in smaller galleries, so they may be out as well, which leaves smaller venues and a direct audience.

      For this kind of art my DNA is utterly irrelevant, thank Gourd. It’s mostly a matter of very hard-earned skill, and if one is accomplished enough, one shouldn’t be entirely snubbed. What would probably count as a viable formula is:

      1) Obviously hand created art, as in drawing/painting. It can be digital, but with about 10% the hope of success.
      2) Work clearly from the imagination. This is a shared ingredient of surrealism, sci-fi, horror, etc.
      3) A high level of skill. Quality is definitely an issue, and the skill in question is fairly standard.
      4) Consistency of style between imagery. There has to be enough of it to constitute a body of work.
      5) A distinct style.
      6) It has to look good and be cool.

      I work all over the map, which you can get away with if you are Picasso, David Hockney, or Gerhard Richter, but not if you are an unknown artist. I might be able to get away with switching up styles between extended series, but not every few images, which is a lot of what I like to do.

      I’ve probably already come up with a few styles and approaches that would be worthy if I stuck to them, but they wouldn’t necessarily satisfy me. I don’t like cutting off options, which you do when you go signature style. I can come up with a style that suits me and covers the bases. I’m working on what that would be. Unfortunately it requires a full range of skills.

      In this series, though, I got around that by making the theme constant but switching up the styles. I will try to pitch it to some venues. I really don’t expect anything for this series. I think it’s worthwhile, or I wouldn’t be doing it, but I can’t expect others to appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a question worth pondering. Maybe you could do a whole post about it. I’m glad to see you thriving during this pandemic, making a plan and all. You seem more determined than ever.

        Liked by 2 people

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