Deconstruction of “At Home” (2017)
The project started with practicing two-point perspective and choosing a place to use as the background of the piece, ultimately my living room.
Scattered throughout the background of the artwork are various pieces of self-portraits from throughout the semester.
The idea of creating a self-portrait through multiple portraits in one piece has been explored before in works like Norman Rockwell’s “Self-Portrait”
Another reoccurring aspect of the piece, “At Home”, is the butterfly that is seen in the shadow of the doorway and above the couch in the center of the picture. The butterfly is a tattoo that I have on the side of my ribcage. It has an eye on each of its wings and I often refer to it as my version of an ‘atheist’s guardian angel’.
The tattoo is part of me and because of that, when the butterfly is in the doorway watching over me, I’m watching over myself. The tattoo in the piece a second time, over the couch, to represent me watching over my kitten, Milo, who is sleeping on the couch.
Guardian angels have long been used in artwork, though in a religious way. One example of that is “A guardian angel walking with a child” by Simone Cantarini (1640, an etching that depicts a guardian angel with a child.
The completed piece combines the use of Illustrator, Photoshop, acrylic paint, colored pencils, and a sharpie to create a unified self-portrait.
The colored pencils were used to draw the face of myself standing in the doorway. The body was done in illustrator so that I could show myself fading into the wall and really becoming one with the room. The face was done in pencil to comply with the instructions of the project, which were to incorporate an analog portrait into the piece.
The piece was assigned in my Drawing and Imaging class for the purpose of showing us how to draw spaces in two-point perspective and as an opportunity for us to show that we had learned how to incorporate Illustrator, Photoshop, and analog work together in a single piece.
An in-depth explanation of two-point perspective.
Illustrator vs Photoshop
Why Artists Paint Self Portraits.
It was a fairly open-ended assignment so that we would be allowed freedom to create as long as we combined the two Adobe programs with analog work and created self-portrait. The project was a chance for us to combine the skills that we learned and/or sharpened throughout the year into a final piece. The project also allowed us to explore how we see ourselves, as many self-portrait assignments do.
The most meaningful part of the assignment for me was incorporating one of my tattoos into the piece. Prior to the assignment, I had never been forced to articulate the meaning of the tattoo. Even when getting the tattoo or showing it to my friends I had never had to explain it beyond saying ‘it’s a butterfly with eyes on its wings’. Having to explain the significance of the tattoo really made me look at how far I’ve come from an angry kid who thought religion was black and white to a young adult who can see the difference between religious and spiritual.
The most challenging aspect of the piece was combining everything into one piece while still having it look cohesive. I ended up doing this by printing out the background and foreground separately and collaging them together and then adding some sharpie and acrylic paint to finish the piece off. I added the acrylic paint on the shelves in the back and used the sharpie to outline various aspects of the piece. I chose acrylic paint to give the piece a slight texture, without taking away from the smoothness of the Illustrator created cabinets, and I chose sharpie so that I would give the piece a more hand-drawn look. By finishing off the piece through analog means I was able to tie the various ideas and mediums into a single work.
The idea from this piece that I would like to further explore is the idea of spirituality or traditionally religious themes, ie. guardian angels, through a secular lens. I would love to continue to pursue the idea of non-religious guardian angels through my work, but I also want to branch off further into traditionally religious territory like reincarnation and gods.
I also want to continue to explore the idea of creating a self-portrait through the use of many smaller self-portraits. The idea of a portrait within a portrait holds a lot of room to explore.