Monday, August 13, 2007

Self Portraits - wip update: Trust the process

It seems I've been working on these self portraits for ages, and as I look back at past blog entries here and here, I can see it has been underway for 6 months. For quite some time I was struggling with the best way to present the different parts and bring it all together. I knew what I had thought of wasn't really resolved, but I had to actually see that, before I could move on.

It's hard to make a piece you know isn't really going to work, but sometimes it is important to get on with it and trust that inspiration will hit and allow you to take it where it needs to go. I find this even harder given that my energy is limited and I don't really want to waste it. Not to mention having a lack of faith in myself as an artist (I am really an occupational therapist who is pretending to be an artist and one day soon, people are going to realize this and tell me to get out and stop wasting their time).

Nevertheless, this work is one that has really shown me that the only way to make some art is to get on with making it, and work it out as you go. And I have to confess that everytime I actually stop thinking about this piece and actually work on it, significant leaps forward have happened. Will I learn from this? Probably not completely, but hopefully I'll remember this lesson a little sooner the next time I am stuck.

Above:the clay version of the self portrait after 2 days on the wall.

Above: photoshopped version

Above: further degradation

The wax version as seen here is currently being framed. When I get it back, I can move on to what is hopefully the last stage.


  1. Just keep plugging away and playing with it and eventually it will come together....and no you are not an OT playing at being an artist. You are an artist.

    On my degree course (which was specifically for mature students --25+) a lot of us had the same problem in accepting our new profession. We had assertiveness workshops where we had to practice saying 'I am an artist' out loud in front of a group and walking about. Felt very silly but it did help, curiously.
    Try it when you're at home or in the garden or driving...maybe not in the supermarket. You might be carted off and asked to wear one of those nice white jackets with the buttons at the back..and to work with those awful people the call O.T.s ;-))

  2. Oh no!Not the dreaded OTs!
    Thanks for your kind words of support cusp - I might give it a try some time when I'm alone in the car. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that I'll probably still question myself even when I've got my masters!

  3. The clay self portrait is wonderful and mysterious. A representation of the mask we humans wear to shield our true selves and defend our fragile psyches. I like the fact that it will eventually dry, crack, fall away to reveal the true self. The goal of being truely human? That's what I see anyway. It's great.

    Having an art degree doesn't make you an artist. Making- expressing an idea- does. Please read Mark Boyle's, 'Why Make Stuff'

    (my apologies for linking to my own site but the author didn't post this on his and I got it from a third party site that doesn't offer a specific link)

  4. Oh Peggy! You are so right! In the sense that I HAVE to make, I have no doubts at all that I am an artist. If a week passes and I have not done some artwork, I start to get tense and grumpy. It is really only in the uni context and sometimes in galleries, I start to feel like a "faker". Really that is about a need to be humble and not "talk myself up", which makes me lose confidence and become tongue-tied. I have read that the thing to do is develop a "blurb" you can deliver easily in those situations - of course I haven't done that yet!
    Glad you enjoyed the self portrait!