“Do you know that looks like you?”

“Is that supposed to be you?”

“Why do you always draw/paint yourself?”

“Yeah, but do you KNOW it looks like you?”

Ad infinitum.

I have to admit, I’m always puzzled by this question and its variations. A man drawing his wife or girlfriend never has to answer this. No one would ever comment on it at all. As a heterosexual woman married to a man, I’m not 100% sure who the women in my paintings are supposed to look like. Sure I could paint my husband over and over again, but it’s no secret that paintings featuring men are hard to sell.

First off, I’m the only model I have. Second, models cost money. The hassle involved in finding & paying a model, as well as keeping their permission slips to use their likeness on file is something I’ve done in the past. But, I have two digital paintings that I lost both the slips to and the whereabouts of the women over a decade ago. Third, having an idea in your head and trying to get your model to pretzel into the pose is no fun- and usually that’s not how it’s done anyway.

And yes, I do portraits of other people, which I enjoy

But for my regular work, I have a streamlined, cost effective process which I’ve had for years-

I make sketches of an idea. Then I take photos of myself in that pose to use as reference. Primarily to keep from falling into drawing the exact same pose that I drew for another picture. It gives a slight difference to each drawing. I use the photos to draw from, along with whatever other photo reference I need- ie even though some wings may be stylized I’ll still used photos. Crowns, hair, dresses- and then on top of that, obviously imaginative stuff. The faces are usually from 15 years ago as I’m no longer a young woman, but the expressions are mine from now. I also print a black and white copy of the photo to aide in placing shadows. My shadows are not realistic, rather they are in the Medieval vein. I don’t do chiaroscuro at all. I like my paintings to have a flat, decorative quality, with slightly more 3 dimensional elements, like the hands and faces.

And here’s the thing- I pose for ALL of them. Those old guys eating donuts and beignets? Those are both me.
bluevsredThat crazy cat guy? That’s me too.
webCatman01My moon faced werewolf girl with the fluffy Jimmy Page hair? Me. Her sister that everyone thinks is me, she is me, but no more than any of the others. Not to mention that at the Autumnal age of 42, I haven’t looked like that in 20 years. Which is great. One day my hair will be completely silver and my wrinkles will be so deep that finally no one will ask if that’s me ever again.

Although they’ll probably say, “Is that your granddaughter?”

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. janprytz says:

    Ha, ha, great post. I glad you’re planning on aging naturally, too.

    1. Thank you! I recently got asked that again and it always seems so strange to me. I know a lot of it is that people don’t really understand the steps to creating a drawing or painting.

      And then there are some people who frame the question in a way that passive aggressively insinuates that I’m a narcissist. I probably am. It seems slightly narcissistic to produce any kind of art. There’s an element of “Look at this thing I made!” that I’m frankly uncomfortable with. But mostly, it’s I use myself because I’m cheap and easy XD

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