"Stroked Ego" is Sandi Whetzel's Self Portrait for the "How I See Myself" Self Portrait Exhibit at UVAA

Stroked Ego 20x16 acrylic ©Sandi Whetzel
It was such a kick painting my first ever self portrait for the upcoming exhibit at UVAA in Roseburg, OR. The goal of this exhibit was to challenge artists to stretch and to think outside their box while using every tool and technique to portray "themselves" however they were inspired. UVAA wanted to put a show together that had the possibility of pushing limits while displaying skill.

I did not have much time to execute my painting so I was glad that a realistic painting was not required. I did not want to paint myself in an unflattering, outlandish manner, either. As an artist, I am about bold color, curvy, graceful lines and compelling design. Due to time constraints I decided to simply outline my features in black on the white canvas and then use color and design to render my likeness in a flat, poster-like style, devoid of any realistic shading that would give depth to the contours of my features.   (That would have been too realistic in style.)  I was striving for a somewhat abstract style.

I don't have many photos of myself that I like, but I used a photo of me holding two of my young grandsons, aged three and the three month old baby asleep in my arms, as the inspiration for my portrait. It's one of the few photos of me that I like; possibly because I was in a more relaxed mode when it was taken six years ago.

I was not sure what the outcome would be, but once I got a likeness in black brush strokes on the white canvas, I began to get excited about the painting. Something about the simple but accurate brushed drawing without any shading that defined the forms of my features made me see myself in a whole different way. My countenance was reduced to just the basic structure, without any character lines or my natural coloring. We are so used to seeing ourselves in a three-dimensional way with all the colors, shadows and highlights that form us. There was something almost cathartic about seeing just the very basic lines of structure of me that I found refreshing. It was me, definitely, but in the simplest description. I remember thinking, "Everyone should do a simple brush drawing of themselves. They just might like or accept themselves better."

Early in the process I decided to add my hand holding a paintbrush, stroking on the last of my cheekline next to my mouth. I saw myself painting myself.  Then came the red orange tresses that describe the way I style my hair most often. I chose that color not because I've always wanted to be a redhead, but because it would be a bold color, but not too freaky. The green polka dotted shirt was chosen to lend to the cartoon-like feel of the painting, as well as the black, curvy stripes of the background. The icing on the cake was using green to color my eyes instead of my natural hazel.

I'm glad I got juried into the exhibit. There were 100 images submitted from 54 different artists and a total of 40 images were chosen from 33 different artists. I can't wait to see how every other artist was inspired to portray themselves and to see the reactions of everyone to the works.  The exhibit runs from November 6, 2009 through January 8, 2010 at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association, 1624 West Harvard, Roseburg, OR. The opening reception is from 5-7 pm, November 6th.

Every one that has seen my Stroked Ego portrait has loved it as I do. Wish I could really look that young, sassy and pert. It's the closest I have of a stylized, glamour shot.  Maybe I should dye my hair and trade in my contact lenses for green ones. Naaw. It's been said that art imitates life, but I'm not sure that life can imitate art that well.


Mrs Pretzel said...

You always capture eyes so well!! I love the colors you chose, and when Josh walked by while I was looking at your post, he asked if that was you! lol (Travis says to tell you it's a great picture of Trever. I told him he's an ass. lol) Congratulations on being Juried in! That's a big deal!

Anonymous said...

Good post and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

Sandi Whetzel said...

Anonymous...Would love to hear more how my post regarding my self portrait, Stroked Ego, helped with your college assignment but unfortunately, this is the only way I have of communicating with you. Thanks for your comment. Sandi