Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 1: Yourself

30 Drawing Challenge Day 1: Yourself
As promised, I'm posting the results of my attempt to tackle the 30 Day Drawing Challenge and as predicted it took me 7 days to actually get to it.  At this rate, I've already stretched my 30 days into 210.  Perhaps I should call it the year-long drawing challenge.  Time however is not really the point.  Its about getting back in touch with my creative energies and flexing those artistic muscles that have grown atrophic from non-use. 

I also am discovering that its about something else this particular exercise gets right to the heart of: self-discovery.  Admittedly, the idea of self portrait was terrifying to me at first.  Over-thinking it as I tend to do, I arrived at the grand scheme of doing something very abstract and esoteric.  As I approached the actual task at hand, I thought differently (or somewhat at least).  I hadn't initially planned an image of myself at all.  Perhaps its because I don't think of myself in terms of what I look like.  I don't own a full length mirror and I put my makeup on with a hand-held compact.  Rarely, when I get a glimpse at me or (e-gads) I see a photo that has somehow snuck by my photo radar and been taken of me, I feel as if I'm looking at a stranger.  I frequently comment on how the body is just a mode of transportation.  And much like a car, it doesn't really matter if its a luxury mobile, sporty compact, or pimped out ride, if it gets you from point A to point B safely then it will do.  However, having recently purchased a brand new sporty compact car myself, I can admit that we probably all feel a bit safer and more comfortable in a newer, younger model.

So my approach was a bit of abstract realism.  When I think about who I am, I consider the young girl buried in books in search of all the possibilities life has to offer.  I'm still that girl, I haven't given up on life's possibilities and I really do believe that everything and anything is possible.  The tree and the dragonfly are symbols I align with and relate to.  The dragon fly has a very complex history. Its etymology derives from the Greek Anisoptera meaning not equal.  Culturally its seen as both good and evil.  Swedish folklore refers to the dragonfly as the one who weighs people's souls for the devil.  But Japanese culture sees it as a symbol of courage, strength, and happiness.  The tree, is mythologized in many cultures.  I view the tree as a symbol of strength and flexibility.  From the elasticity of its branches, the sensitivity of its foliage, and the strength of its massive root system, trees are built to withstand, endure, and regrow from the very ashes of fire and maelstrom.  They hold knowledge from the ages and while they have strong roots, contrary to popular understanding, they actually derive 99% of their mass from the air (really! watch this).  I was raised in a pretty traditional mid-western family (until it became nontraditional), my roots are strong and yet I feel (like most I assume) as if I've derived much of who I am and who I'm becoming from my experiences and surroundings, above and beyond my roots. 

And so, Day 1: Yourself was certainly more of an exercise in discerning more about myself than portraiture can accurately depict (which is almost always the case).  And yet from my abstract and esoteric thoughts of who I think I am to the abstract realism (and still esoteric) depiction of who I actually am, I found it a rewarding and enlightening experience.  So go on, give it a try yourself.

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