Self-portrait Workshop: Weatherspoon Art Museum

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a self-portrait workshop at the Weatherspoon Art Museum located on University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s campus.  The workshop was led by Elizabeth Bradford, who did an amazing job facilitating.  This image is a sneak preview of the finished self-portrait made from this workshop.  

It has been a while since I last took an art class or workshop to make my own art, so I did a little prep work.  I took a few photos, worked on some sketches, and collected materials I was interested in using.  Eric kept making me laugh while I was trying to take phone self-portraits.  

 On Saturday morning, I hopped on my bike and rode to the workshop.  We started with coffee and quick bread for a breakfast-snack.  After introductions, we viewed a few examples of self-portraits, and then headed up to the galleries to see the exhibit, The Penetrating Gaze.  If you are able to make it to this exhibit, I highly recommend it.  It has an excellent array of portraits and is on display through June 16, 2013. 

This is one of my favorite sculptures at the Weatherspoon – I love her reclining posture.   

I love her bottle hair-do, very medusa-like, if you ask me.

Portrait of Benny Andrews, Alice Neel, Lithograph, 1978.

This Alice Neel portrait caught my eye immediately.  I love her sense of line in this image. 

Self-portrait, Chuck Close, hard ground etching and aquatint on paper, 1977.
This Chuck Close self-portrait begs a closer look.  

The zoomed in view shows the amount of time put into this self-portrait.  I am impressed!

Self-portrait, George Tooker, lithograph, 1984.

The expression and use of the hand caught my attention.  

Top: Untitled (Map Faced Man #13), Timothy Cummings, Map and acrylic on canvas, 1996.
Bottom: June 25, 2009, Fred Tomaselli, Gouache and collage on printed watercolor paper, 2010. 
Anything collage, especially when it involves text like the map, above, and the newspaper below, interests me.  I used these two artworks as inspiration for my self-portrait, the most. 

Girl Before Mirror, William C. Fields, oil on canvas, 1961.
This portrait has a warm, nostalgic feeling.  It reminded me immediately of my Great Grandmother Mabel. 

After spending some time with the portraits, we headed back downstairs to the conference room we were using as our studio for the day.  At first, I thought this was made from blue plastic bags, but upon closer inspection, it is layered muslin.

Contemplating – where to begin?  This is the best part about art workshops, I get to be the student and remember what my students feel like when they are sitting in front of a blank paper waiting for an idea to appear.  

I mapped out my drawing in pencil over 4 pages from an old bridge book. 
Then it was time for a lunch break with my two cuties at the new Chipotle across the street.  They have these great plywood walls with holes drilled in them.  There are lights behind the boards so that the holes glow like orange stars.  It was something I may have to copy sometime in the not-so-distant future. 

Here is the drawing after inking over it in thin Sharpie. 

After much deliberation, I added the watercolor wash to the clothing.  Then, decided to give it some white balance and go with white streaks in the hair, white in the eyes, and white on the necklace.  It made the portrait come to life.  I always love how a small detail like white paint can transform an artwork so dramatically. 
After this stage, it was time to go home.  This was one of the most successful art sessions I have had in a long time.  It is hard to make art without feeling guilty when you have a toddler bringing you books or tugging on your pant leg.   
The following day, Sunday, I finished this artwork.  I knew if I let it sit any more than that, I would not get back to it at all.  I went back to the card theme and turned myself into the trumping Queen of Spades.  
I hope this post inspires you to go out and create.  I am on a spree now and am working on some fun things at work now too.  

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