Throwback Thursday: Turtles

Here’s another self portrait for this week’s blast from the past:

Me turtle

Title: Fighting With Myself

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 22″ x 60″

When: Drawing 2, Fall semester 2004

Purpose: Class assignment. This teacher was big on self portraits!

History/Thought process: After looking at the piece and seeing the title, you may be wondering why I’m grumpy at a turtle. One of the nicknames I got in college was Turtle. I had this huge amazing turtle neck sweater that I absolutely loved. It was warm and cozy, and perfect for cold winter days in our drafty dorms or walking all the way across campus with wind that cut through your coats. As much as I loved this sweater, I always made sure I never wore it to my public speaking class on a day that I’d have to do a speech. The one day that I did wear it to my class, my professor decided it would be a great day to do a pop quiz kind of speech day. He’d provide you with a topic, and you had two minutes to do a speech on it. The topic I got was should elderly men and women have to go through training or retake license exams to continue driving. I was so excited that this was my topic; it’s one I had been thinking about and I just knew I’d ace this speech. I got up there, I did my speech, and when I ended, everyone was looking at me with blank stares. When my professor finally came out of it, he said that he was sure I gave a great speech, but that the only thing he could think about was that it looked like my sweater was going to swallow my head! He felt bad, gave me my 100, and I got rid of my sweater. All my classmates called me Turtle from then on.

I also was in therapy during this time; I was going though a really rough time, and my counselor said that I acted like a turtle when things got hard, that I’d just retreat into my shell, avoiding everything until the bad things went away. We were trying to overcome that, and it wasn’t easy.

So when Beth (my professor) gave yet another self portrait assignment and that it had to incorporate something we were dealing with, I knew right away what I was going to draw.

I had to include a turtle neck sweater, even though it wasn’t the one from my public speaking class.

Problems I encountered: Getting the expressions down right. I wanted to be glaring at the turtle, but I wanted the turtle to be fighting me somehow as well. I picture him yelling at me when I look at this, almost like he’s my inner voice telling me I’m going to fail, that I’ll never be able to cope with things, that I’ll always retreat and hide.

Favorite part: I really like how the turtle shell turned out. It took forever to do, but I think it turned out well 🙂

Least favorite part: I have always struggled with pushing contrast between my values. I’m always afraid to make things too dark. I think I am very flat and don’t have enough range from light to dark in this portrait.


Why is the turtle floating?

Cause he’s crazy ridiculous like that. Actually, I guess it’s just I thought of him as something that’s not really there, but he is. He doesn’t make sense; although he’s very real to me, there’s something about him that I know is not right. And that’s why he’s floating. Or maybe it’s because I was too lazy to draw a table 😉


Did you ever get any random but shareable/appropriate nicknames in college?

3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Turtles

  1. What a bunch of asses, focusing on your sweater/neck instead of your speech. With the right hairdo, turtleneck sweaters can be lovely. I personally like those sweater coats with the soft belts on women better. I have been called a turtle (by myself more than others) for having no neck and being “slow” at times. I like to think I am the tortoise and the hare, depending on the situation.

    THAT’S BEEN MY WEAK SPOT, TOO! I never forget how one teacher told me I need to improve my negative (or white and black spaces). I have been perpetually drawing “in the gray.”

    If you want to be fighting the turtle, why not make a caricature (big heads, little bodies) picture with both of you flying toward each other in kung fu poses?

    1. I totally am the tortoise and the hare for various situations, too!

      I love your suggestion for the caricature/kung fu poses! Adding that to my list of things to try 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. Well, if you need help or ideas for any other creative pursuit, just let me know:)

        Yer welcome. Nice meeting you.

        And, if you do follow through with the kung fu caricatures, I’d like to see them:)

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