One of the challenges I’ve encountered while traversing a philosophical path has been developing the ability to distinguish between the times when it’s more appropriate to fight or to flow. Tricky, tricky, tricky. About a month ago while I was in full preparation mode for a piece I am starting to flesh out, I received information from a handful of unrelated sources over the course of the day involving portraiture. After considering the subject for a short time, I set it aside and continued with my task at hand which was relatively easy to do. I have little interest in portraits in general, unless I perceive more information in the piece than just the sitter, and I’ve had zero interest in self-portraits as I’ve never been comfortable appearing in photos or video to begin with. I actually drew one self-portrait when I was about 15 years old, and since that time I’ve completely lacked any desire to revisit the subject.

But then last week I received prodding from disparate sources regarding portraits again, so I decided to take a quick trip to investigate. I started sketching a self-portrait on Wednesday night, and it was easily the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever undertaken artistically. Over the course of the hour that I worked on it I had to leave the easel every few minutes or so and walk around the house to get away from it, I couldn’t look at it for extended periods of time, overall it was a very strange experience. It wasn’t until 3 days later that I finally finished it, and even that was a struggle, although once I got to the point of reducing everything to contours, shapes, and angles, my stress level diminished accordingly. Regardless, I was fatigued from the work fairly quickly and decided to let it go for the time being. I’m happy with my first pass, and I think that my prize at the end of this endeavor is the desire to do more self-portraiture in order to improve and expand on what I’ve started, as there seems to be a lot of potential for exploration here. I’ve also acquired an interesting heightened awareness of the bones in my face. So even though it appears to be a successful flow this time, I am kind of excited to return to my task at hand.

charcoal, Strathmore charcoal paper 95 g/m2

charcoal, Strathmore charcoal paper 95 g/m2


My third grade art teacher gave to me my first set of soft pastels when I was 8 years old, and I ended up hanging onto that box until I was nearly 30. Over the years I’ve moved through phases of working with other media, but whenever I did it always felt like straying from the path I needed to follow. Of all the pigment vehicles I dabbled in, painting with watercolor fascinated me the most, primarily because I was horrible at it having already become completely acclimated to the use of pastels. Nonetheless, every couple of years I’d give it another go just to see if I could take it somewhere, and this time I am coming at it from a slightly different angle.

I finally had a chance to test out the set of Caran d’Ache water soluble pencils I picked up a few weeks ago, and halfway through the sketch, once I started to get the hang of working with them and relaxed a bit, I really liked what was happening on the paper. My love for graphite just stumbled into a new dimension that with a little luck will serve as a bridge.

Caran d'Ache Technalo water soluble graphite pencils, Pentel Aquash waterbrush, Staedtler Mars 780 clutch pencil, Canson XL Mix Media paper

Caran d’Ache Technalo water soluble graphite pencils, Pentel Aquash waterbrush, Staedtler Mars 780 clutch pencil, Canson XL Mix Media paper