Self Portrait!

Early this year, I applied for a full scholarship or full work-trade scholarship for a painting class at Penland.  It looked incredibly perfect for me: two talented and successful portrait painters would work with the class for 2 weeks (in the beautiful paradise that is the Penland campus) on self-portraiture with a focus on looseness and expression.  Two things I really am trying to work on. The teachers themselves have very expressive and colorful styles that I knew would help my work to evolve in its own way.

Well, I didn’t get it.  It’s pretty darn competitive and waaaaay too expensive for me to straight up pay for.

The other day, Penland linked to this blog on facebook.  And by golly- it was what seemed to be a very thorough summary of the class.  So I read it, experienced a moment of disappointment that I had missed out on it, then decided to go paint my own self portrait.  Allison mentions at one point that Michael Dixon suggested pre-mixing some colors to work with.  This might sound crazy, but I have never done that.

So I found a photo of myself that I like- taken by the amazingly talented moveable me, mixed up three shades (a light, dark, and middle) and started painting on a random wash I had done the day before that consisted mostly of browns with some teal at the bottom left.

It went quickly.  Then I had to stop because I had somewhere to be.  I also was in that tricky place of wondering if it was finished.  Always a good time to let it sit a minute.

Chalk sketch on strange washy background:

The paint goes on, it begins:

I made myself look so much like my grandmother at that point, I think.  So more paint, some re-working:

And here is a shot indoors after I added an ear and a few more strokes

So I think it’s pretty much done.  I added some dark red/brown to the background since this photo was taken but the painting itself is at the framer’s so this is the most recent one I have.

Speaking of frames, my standard cheap approach (a 50% off coupon for each pre-made frame at a certain large craft store chain) didn’t work out this time so I was scrambling to figure out how to frame them cheaply.  An awesome framer in the River District cut me some deals on some framing and suggested looking in antique malls for pre-made options.  So the boyfriend and I ran around two huge antique malls (one of our favorite things to do anyway) and found the right size frame for the 3 large paintings I was worrying about.

Here is one of my paintings in a fancy frame I found.  Much cheaper than custom framing if you’re willing to hunt and hunt and hunt and hunt…

I think a different painting will end up in it eventually.

I also took a walk one evening and saw this:

My show hangs this Friday.  I’m sure I’ll post a lot of photos once it’s up.

Here is their blurb.  Yahoo!!  You can even read my artist statement!




4 Comments Add yours

  1. Heidi says:

    Beautiful, Harper! You are so talented!! I love the antique frame

  2. Dad says:

    I really liked your description about your new process – very interesting – and see the painting in various states of development. For the non-artistic, it really helps to understand how you do the magic that you do. Love the new painting and really like the invite to your show! Congrats!

    Love, Dad

    1. harperleich says:

      Thanks, Dad! I think it’s interesting to see into people’s processes, too.

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