Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Am I hiding? Or facing the world full front?

I get tired of taking pictures of myself.

In that regard, I'm not sure what it is about the Self Portrait Challenge that I am so driven by to engage in. I think, in the beginning, that it was because I was having a real block about painting and I could hear my first "real" art teacher...(you know, the one that challenges you to really think about what you're doing?) saying that if one is stumped in the creative process, it is always good to paint a self portrait. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It's been over a year now, and have I discovered anything? I suppose I would of had to, right? I do know that I have definitely picked up the brush again...and the glue...and the tissue paper....and whatever else has struck my fancy. And I have doggedly tried to take self portraits.

I don't credit myself with being a photographer, so it had definitely helped in my understanding and thinking about taking a shot. I don't always succeed, but it's worth the effort. I have learned how to use Photoshop, and it in turn has been kind of a catalyst into really thinking about how I can approach photography. I sense a blurry line between the words digital photography and digital art. I like that blurry line. It's right up my alley. It's a lot like painting with a brush and oils...you just keep dabbling and futzing....as my father would say: "jickeyjockeypookyingaround". Taking a picture of myself definitely helps to take me down a road that I would not normally go down, because it gives me a sense of purpose. Something to do using that camera. Sometimes I branch out and decide to play around w/ photo's that I have taken of something else...mixing them in some new way. I'm sure these ideas are all old hat to a photographer, or a graphic artist, but for me it is all a brand new world. It is hard to remember that feeling about painting because I have done it all my life, it seems. (Though I do remember setting about the purpose of painting Iris flowers over and over again in watercolor when I was a teenager.) It just seems, for some reason, that when I start fooling around with pictures that aren't self portraits that I start to feel as if I'm using time that would be better spent painting. Conundrum. Why don't I feel that way when it's a self portrait?

And then when I"m really into the trying to figure out what to do with a particular theme of spc I start to wish I could just take one good photo of myself. I'll try and what happens is that I am then forced to look into the eyes of something that I wasn't really planning on looking into. I suppose that would be myself. What's the first thing you see when you look at that photo of yourself? I see tired. I can rarely muster a smile, not because I don't want to, but because I'm concentrating on taking a photo. But that frown translates into the word "tired" for me. And all I can see are those frown lines that are burrowing into my cheeks. Then I see the long thin vertical line that is dividing my forehead and I feel serious. Too serious. The hair, always a mess. What I'm seeing is old. Though I suppose I should say "older". I can feel how my skin is on the verge and teetering over that line finally of youth and age. I'm not happy about it. I'm not the woman that will ever do anything about it...meaning surgery or crap injected in my face. No, that wouldn't be me. I am the woman that will have to keep pondering on it and come to a place where she accepts it instead of just seeing tired. I think I am happier than my self portraits would lend one to believe. But then again, maybe I'm not? I can take the Photoshop and make myself look young again...but it's not really me. Am I being honest then? I swim in these thoughts. Is my art honest? Can art be honest? The same way a photo is? Is my photo artistic? Can it be artistic, the way a painting is? Around and around we go and it all seems to end up with the same answer that effects one as per how the day is that day...never the same. "It is what it is." I can only remember taking one photo for this spc thing in the past that I felt was truly "honest".

About a week ago when we were still doing "patterns" as a theme, I got fed with the fact that I felt I never really let people "see" those photo's that I deem to look "the most like me" for all of these various reasons. That the only way to take a photo of just me, was to do just that. No tricks, no worrying about the angle. I decided to take a photo in the bathroom since the light is always the truest, and there's a mirror so I can take it myself without a tripod (mine broke). I held the camera at my chest and took it pointing up to the mirror. Those photo's prompted me to dig out the old mirror that I used in my photo's for the last week of patterns. The natural light was too dark, really, and I hate using a flash...so this is what I got. I thought a lot about how I could write a post to go along with it about being "real". Myself, that is. Of introducing myself of sorts. I did some other photo's last night that I played around with Photoshop with...thinking I'd do that instead...but this morning I have come back to this. And seeing as I thought of it before I even knew that the challenge this month was going to be bathrooms....well, I guess I'd better just get it out of my system.

It is what it is.


St├ęphanie said...

your photo must be art, for miles away, not knowing you, I feel touched by what it is.

Amelia said...

Your photo is honest, I love that...

Your post however is so well written and thought provoking...I loved reading every word!!


Melba said...

Very interesting post. I never realized you do that~ Not really show you in the traditional sense...but showing yourself because any part that you give is revealing in a way.
You know?

This looks like a painting~it is so real.

Dandelions & Daisies Photography said...

I agree with Melba, about the photo looking like a painting. I can relate to the expression on your face :)

JC said...

I can really identify with this post. I think that in photos I never look as happy as I am either. I don't think I've posted any that are as honest as what you did here. And I think you look beautiful.

daisies said...

honest and incredibly beautiful ~ i love this photo of you and your thoughtful post ... xox

Janet said...

mm, yes I get tired of photgraphing myself too... but self-portraits over time are incredibly complex if you think about it, we see ourselves everyday, and yet this keeps revealing layers of who we are. Maybe that's what your art teacher meant, I don't know.

I really liked this portrait of you the first time I saw it a couple of days ago and I still really like it now. Beautiful.

L.M.Noonan said...

Your self portrait is so direct yet unconfronting. I agree with those comments that liken it to a traditional portrait painting- in the best possible way. I really enjoyed your posting too.