Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Club - Mixed-Media Self-Portraits continued

Mixed-Media Self-Portraits: Inspiration & Techniques
by Cate Caulacos Prato
The book club started by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio continued reading the next chapter of Cate Caulacos Prato's Mixed-Media Self-Portraits: Inspiration and Techniques this month. (See review of the first chapter at Blue Twig Studio's blog here and my blog here.)

The second chapter has focused on "Knowing Thyself: taking the first step toward a self-portrait."  It started with a couple of exercises to understand yourself better - i.e. What color are you? Who lives here? Answering questions about your what you have surrounded yourself with in your home. And lastly, who would you like to be? Children have no problem drawing themselves as who they imagine they are - a princess, a pirate, etc. Who do you imagine yourself to be?

She follows this up with self-portrait exercises - studying yourself in a mirror and getting to know your face.  I like the quote by Leonardo Da Vinci

"The mirror, above all - the mirror is our teacher." 

I love the directions given for drawing the eye. I think the eye is the hardest part of the face to capture. I've done many portraits in colored pencil and oils over the years and it's always the eye that is the hardest part of the face. Without that, the person just doesn't look right. Her directions are great for how to capture the eye!

She also discussed digital portraits, caricatures, gettting started and putting it all together. Several artists shared their thoughts and journey to create self-portraits. Not all portrait examples contained faces. I think that relieves some of the pressure to draw a face that actually looks like you. Portraiture is difficult for most people, and I think that's why doing a self-portrait can be very scary. This chapter helps with easing some of those fears, while giving many helpful ideas to know yourself better and suggestions for creating a self-portrait.

The last several days, I played with a few different photo-editing software to create several digital self-portraits. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements, Pixlr Express, Paper Camera, and FotoRus. They all have slightly different features. I had lots of fun playing. I created a photo collage of some of the self-portraits I had the most fun creating and/or liked the best.

Digital Self-Portrait collage created in FotoRus with InstaMag.
Clockwise, starting in the lower right-hand corner: I used Adobe Photoshop Elements (PE) to crop a photo and enhance the color to create "Just Me, Myself, and I". I further edited this in PE, changing the coloration to create "Bold". I thought the purple skin and green clothing made for a bright, bold portrait. Again in PE, I changed the colors to make a monochromatic blue portrait, then rippled it and used the gradient to create "Fading Away".  In "Unadorned", I took the original self-portrait in PE and turned it into a black and white portrait with warm highlights.  "Sketch" was created in Paper Camera.  In "The All-Seeing Eye", Pixlr Express created 3 slightly different facial views, each a different color, which I imported into Paper Camera for the neon colors. Finally, I used FotoRus with Pip (picture in a picture) to center the eyes of the portrait in a drop of water. "Electric! (or eclectic?)" was created in Pixlr Express using special effects and overlays.  Finally, the blue portrait created in PE was imported into FotoRus Pip to make "Auntie Em, Auntie Em". The bubble reminded of the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy is calling for Auntie Em in the crystal ball while locked in the room by the Wicked Witch of the West.  

I created a few other digital self-portraits besides the ones shown here. I had so much fun playing with the different effects to see how I could manipulate the portrait. Another great thing about working digitally is I could delete anything I didn't like!! Lol! Working digitally also gave me ideas I would like to try on paper, in paint, or with fabric. 

This chapter has been inspiring to me to create self-portraits and not feel so self-conscious about it. I want to experiment and play now!


  1. I love your digital collage. I haven't really gotten involved with digital art yet, but I know there is some amazing artwork out there. The Auntie Em image made me laugh.

    1. Thank you. ! I'm having fun experimenting, while learning about digital art.