Back in college, I was a Painting Major. Here’s one of the pieces I completed during my freshman year – a myopic landscape. I remember I painted this piece while sitting outside on campus, and I really enjoyed using so many different colors for the reflection in the water. If you’ve seen some of my landscape collage work, you can really see how my work in painting translated over to collage.
This is an acrylic self portrait that I made back in high school. For the background, I used thick layers of paint and then scraped away at the paint with a palette knife. I painted this portrait a little bit after the first self portrait painting that I made when going through a program at a local gallery.
I studied painting in college, and this is a piece that I made that was part of an oil painting series that depicted reflective surfaces. I remember really enjoying the process when I was working on this particular painting, it sort of fell together, while my other reflective paintings were more of a struggle.
I feel like still life was something I always dreaded in school. The compositions in real life that we worked from seemed boring to me – not as exciting as figurative work. The struggle was finding inspiration in old objects that were fished out of the teacher’s closet and strewn about in such a way to create interest for the entire class. Nowadays when I tackle still life, I like to work from reference photos of interesting food and drinks that I’ve seen (or eaten) on various trips.
This is a graphite self portrait drawing that I did back in high school – I think I was around 16 at the time that I made this. I remember that I had a mentor at a local gallery back then, an artist who gave me feedback on a few of my works of art. This portrait was made during the mentorship program, and the last piece I created during the program was this self portrait painting.
In general, I think that self portraits are really difficult to do. It’s really tough to portray yourself, especially since we have so many assumptions about how we look based on the everyday routine of looking in the mirror. It’s difficult to take a step back and peer at yourself like an outsider in order to create a portrait. As a result, I feel like most of my self portraits don’t entirely capture the way I look, however I do like to refer to them as portraits that are version of myself.
This is a mixed media collage that I made back in high school – can you tell that I may have been inspired by Picasso at the time? Growing up, I was an aspiring writer. I was constantly scribbling poetry and stories in spiral notebooks, so it was only fitting that I made a work of art inspired by my life as a writer. This piece is made of magazine clippings, oil pastel, pen, and includes an actual broken pencil and balled up piece of paper adhered to the surface.
This is the first oil painting I ever did, and I made it back in high school. I really enjoyed painting reflections back then, and a couple of years later when I went to school for painting, I created a series of paintings that focused on still life and glass reflections.
Here’s another collage that I made back in high school. This was during my phase where I was focussing a lot on figurative art and also liked to draw on top of my work with oil pastel. As you can see here, the figure was drawn almost completely in oil pastel. There was actually cut paper underneath all that drawing. It was during this phase when one of my classmates asked me why I always covered up all my hard work by drawing on top of it. It was at that point that I realized I should try to make works completely from paper – and see how I could accomplish adding shadows and highlights just by manipulating cut pieces of magazine strips.
“I Dream on Sunsets with my Head in the Clouds” is a collage that I completed back in high school. This was back during my phase where I’d draw on top of my collages with oil pastel – which you can see a little bit of here.
This piece is a little more abstract than the other collages I was making at that time. And yet again I find myself getting inspired to make new work as I sift through pieces I’ve made in the past.
I think this is one of the first self portrait paintings I ever made. I created this piece back in high school – I think I was around sixteen at the time. It was also the first time I really learned how to mix acrylic paints and create a wash before I started the whole painting process. You can see a little bit of purple from the purple wash shining through, since I used it to help with the look of the shadows.
I made this painting through a mentor program at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. I was paired with a painter who taught me about the basics of painting. I met with her about once a week, and she critiqued my work and gave me some helpful advice. In fact, some of her advice is something I still remember and think about when I make artwork even today. She told me that I shouldn’t assume what things look like in my mind, I should pay attention to all the shapes that make up objects in real life. You can see I did a little bit of assuming with this piece since my eyes are football shaped instead of being more rounded.
What’s a little amusing about this piece is that you can see that I had orange streaks in my hair at the time. I had a habit of dying my hair a lot in those days.
Again, self portraits are pretty tough, and you can tell that I was new to the painting process. This piece just goes to show that you have to start somewhere.
This is a charcoal drawing that I did back in college, when we were studying the figure. In college I really enjoyed making figurative artwork, especially portraits. People really fascinated me, as well as the broad range of emotion that can be conveyed in different facial expressions. I also liked how every person has something about them that makes them their own character.
Anyway, this drawing really does show off that I was way more interested in drawing the sitter than capturing the environment he was in. I remember my professor critiqued me on not putting as much effort into his surroundings. What can I say? People are more interesting to me than a classroom full of empty chairs.