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?

Throwback Thursday: Beauty and the Beast

And this week’s featured Throwback is…

Beauty and the Beast

Title: Beauty and the Beast

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 24″ x 18″

When: I think this was in my Drawing 2 class; fall semester junior year, 2004

Purpose: Class assignment

History: The teacher we had for this class was very much into incorporating random things together and abstracting everything. Our assignment was to do a self portrait, but we had to put something into it that made the viewer think about what was really happening.

Thought process: I was going through a really difficult time when I did this drawing. I had post-traumatic stress disorder and was in therapy. A previous relationship from high school was coming back to haunt me, and I used my art as a way to work through it.

In order to get the hand in the hair to look right, I took a picture of myself with my own hand raking through my hair. I made it more muscular like a man’s hand, thinking along the lines that my personal demons are causing pain or remembering physical abuse that I had been on the receiving end of years before.

I wanted to keep the details light except for the eye; I wanted to convey my thoughts of wondering if anyone was really seeing what I was going through.

Problems I encountered: Getting the hair and hand to work together was a big struggle. I don’t think it’s quite right, but it took a long time to get it to where it is now.

Fun tidbits: I think the model I used for all the detail in the hand is actually from Michelangelo’s sculpture David!

Favorite part of the piece: I think the eye turned out really really well!

Least favorite part of the piece: My nose is too fat 🙂


What do you use as an outlet when you’re going through a difficult situation?

Throwback Thursday: Self-portrait

And today’s blast from the past is:

Self portrait

Title: Self-portrait

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 24″ x 18″

When: Sometime during my college years; I think this was spring semester of my senior year, 2006.

Purpose: Class assignment

History: Not too much history on this one; I think it was for my advanced drawing class, but I can’t remember. This is what happens when I don’t date my work…

Thought process: At this point, I do remember that I was trying to play with emotions in my work. Like, is the person in the drawing laughing or crying? Surprised or happy? I wanted my pieces to be somewhat open ended for interpretation. I don’t think this one is very strong in conveying that intention, but that’s okay 🙂

Problems I encountered: I cannot get the eyes to be the same value of darkness! It still drives me nuts today. Also, my face is  longer in the nose area than it should be…or maybe my face is too narrow. I don’t know, something is off. This is definitely NOT my best piece, but it encourages me that I’ve gotten better over the years 🙂

Favorite part of the piece: I think I did pretty good on the hair for once! Yay!

Least favorite part of the piece: The mismatched eyes. Ugh. And the fact that the drawing, even though it was in a portfolio, is damaged on the right side.


Have you ever had to do a self portrait? How did it turn out?