Being Grateful For Me – A Mixed Media Self-Portrait

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My Naturopath gave me an assignment – to keep a gratitude journal about myself.  Not what I’m grateful for that is outside of me (other people, places, things, etc.), but what I am grateful for each day about myself.  Wow, that’s an entirely different thing…and infinitely more challenging.  But, I set out to give it a whirl and from this initial little gratitude note I wrote grew a self-portrait, and with it I observed again some initial resistance.
A self-portrait seems like the most daunting of creative endeavors. Why is that? Do we feel we can only attempt a portrait if we have the skills to get the likeness just right? Or is it because we really have to look closely at ourselves; if not at our actual features, then at ourselves, our lives, our values, etc. Sometimes this navel gazing seems like a huge task that we don’t have the time to do “properly” – with genuine reflection and effort. Does “properly” mean that we need to get it RIGHT? Goodness, there seems to be so many things that can stop us dead in our tracks because we have this perception that we must get it right.
I think of that quote….”boldness has genius in it…”, you know it:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

So with that abandon to action, I attempted a self portrait that became a wonderful exercise in letting go and surrendering to the process. Surrounded in a variety of papers I found appealing, magazines I love reading, pages from old journals, and a current writing on Gratitude, pictures of family and a selection of my own artwork that had some meaning for me, I let loose with scissors and gel medium. The process of collage was completely absorbing and enlightening as I watched myself be moved and inspired by certain images, colors, and words.
The whole process was inspired by the book Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts, so I can’t take credit for the idea. I can however own the courage it took to jump in and allow myself the gift of engaging in the process. It’s hard to give ourselves permission to take the time for these things most of the time….so for this I am grateful – to myself.
In the end, it was very moving, enlightening, and fascinating as the painting spoke to me on it’s own as I worked. Only one brief moment felt frustrating…when my critical brain (left brain) piped up to observe that my facial features were out of proportion. I was both amused and grateful that my Wise Woman (right brain) very quickly quipped back…”that’s OK, it’s SUPPOSED to be like that!”

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4 Responses

  1. Michelle

    Oh man. I’ve been wrestling with the idea for a while of doing a self portrait.

    Maybe you will inspire me to be brave!

    Looks beautiful, just like you!

  2. Cheryl

    Thanks, Michelle…..and what?? With all those lovely girls you do?? I’ve been dying to get you to show me how to do such wonderful faces for a long time now. Ican imagine your self-portrait would be fantastic. Jump in girl…..I’ll cheer you on!

  3. Veronica Funk

    This is fabulous Cheryl…I have a terrific book on mixed media portraits with beautiful paintings reminiscent Michelle’s that I’d love to pass along if you’re interested. Funny about the self-portrait thing…I did so many in art school and have avoided them since but have recently considered doing a mixed media piece in the same vein as yours. We must all be sharing brain waves these days.

  4. Veronica Funk

    Okay…I’ve just tagged you – check out my blog.

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