Self-Portrait as a young man

R - Self Protrait as a Young Artist

The History: This is my story and I’m sticking to it… for now.

Every now and then I will torture myself by staring myself in the eyes and trying to see where, and possibly who I am at that moment… I originally believed it revealed much of where I was on my journey towards a healthy self-esteem, but now I realize that how I feel about it changes depending on my mood at the time of viewing it. I have notes that indicate I described this as a depressed figure, confused and alone. Today, I see a smile and lightness in it. Well, this is a fun realization to me. My work gathers or looses value depending on how I value myself.

As mentioned, this and several other self-portraits are challenges I give myself when I feel a creative block. It forces me to either get more down on myself, or to have more faith in myself by letting go of the results, or more specifically letting go of the judgment of the results.

The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!

If you are anything like me, you may have a love-hate relationship with crayons. The one consistent factor it that you can use them in many more ways than most would ever want to try. Not just straight forward drawing, like I did here, but you can melt them to use in a makeshift encaustic painting technique, or dilute them with solvents. You can also rub the heck out of them to blend them very subtly.

It is definitely me, despite the influences sited below. At this time I was stubbornly wearing large, ill fitting t-shirts and baggy pants. My hair was often poorly styled and too bushy on my head. This was me then.

The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of

For me, the obvious one is Modigliani, but I know I was studying the works of Chaim Soutine and others in Picasso’s Montmartre entourage. So it is a mix of several more.

Help Keep Me In Coffee & Cookies: Buy The Artist’s Prints, Mugs, T-Shirts, Pillow, Shower Curtains, and other awesome stuff. 

What inspires an artist?

“All they see” is the first and most literal answer.

For me, that is literally hundreds of gallery & museum exhibits, thousands of books, and tens of thousands of images online. 

When asked where to start a book collections, I almost always recommend these art bibles: Janson’s “History of ArtOR Phaidon’s “The Art BookBoth give a nice overview with good pictures. Once you’ve discovered what you are attracted to there most, you can then dig deeper into that area.

If I had to pick only a few of my major influences, which is a very difficult task, it would be Modigliani, Picasso, Van Gogh, & Andrew Wyeth. Here are a few of the best books I recommend from them.


Modigliani: Drawings 102 Colour Plates

Picasso:Man & His Work Part 1

Picasso: The Man and His Work – Part 2

The Mystery of Picasso

Picasso Line Drawings and Prints 

Picasso Portraits

Picasso Sculpture

Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh: The Lost Arles Sketchbook:   

Van Gogh: Complete Works

Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In

Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic

If you have the time, you are free to visit my GoodReads library to see a fraction of the books I’ve read. The ones I remember, that is. Or you can visit the ever growing collection of images on my Pinterest account.

The Materials: Quick! Order this stuff right now, AND You too, can make masterpieces!

Crayola 96 Crayons: The Review: Wax crayons are remarkable versatile, if you allow yourself to try them. You can blend colours and tones, and with a little practice, make lines as fine and crisp as you like. For me, the beauty is using them on textured paper, like watercolour paper… it ads the ability to work light and add shading and depth to the crayons. I have yet to find a better brand than Crayola for colour quality and selection. If you want to challenge yourself on really big pieces, get the Crayola Canada 800 Regular Crayons Classpack, 16 Colours: The range of colours is enough to recreate almost any Group of Seven painting.

Moleskine Sketchbook: The Review: Some may ask if I’ve succumbed to the marketing of Moleskin and that is why I pay the higher price for these watercolour paper notebooks. Maybe, if you take into account that this tope of sketchbook has been used by such artists as Van Gogh, Picasso, & Hemingway, then I have been sold by that bunch of so and sos. I love the texture of the watercolour paper and find it the most enjoyable to draw on with pen, pencil, and ink. These books have solid covers, and always seam to inspire some new creativity, be it giving me the chance to draw on one side, and take notes on what I drew to figuring out how to incorporate the seam into the drawing. I love them. They come in a ton of different sizes, and I’ve used quite a few, but prefer the smaller ones for ease of carrying around. Check out their website for other options Or just type Moleskine on Amazon and have fun choosing one!

Photoshop for Mac:  The Review: You could use the free “ MAC Photos” program or Picassa and possibly get the same results, but Photoshop offers you the flexibility of presenting yourself as a pro photographer, like no other program. There’s a reason it’s considered the best of the best, after all. So, this allows you the possibility of selling this service to others and funding more of your creativity

Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop:The Review: You may choose to get an iMac for the bigger screen, and I couldn’t disagree with the beauty of working with the 24” screen. I picked the laptop, because of the need to be mobile and the flexibility of multi-purposing it to use for client demos. As an alternative to the weight of this model, I would suggest the MacBook Air 13”. Most of us have become accustomed to mobile device size screens and it is much easier to carry around.

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR: The Review: My first DSLR camera was the EOS Rebel T3. This one is vastly superior to the old model. Canon has a well deserved reputation of having top rated cameras. It requires a little play time to master it, and that time will be lessened by defining a clear idea of what you want to do with it, then jumping on YouTube for the multitude of How To videos. If you want a smaller camera to carry around, try Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera OR go small & powerful with the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD & built in wifi.

Canon PIXMA MX492 Inkjet Printer:The Review: For me this has been the easiest to us for cleaning and cartridge replacement. It works reasonably well with recycled inks and the wireless is easy to set-up. The Canon has worked best for me on ink usage. When purchasing printers, always consider the cost of ink replacement… for the most part, this is the big difference right now in printers. For big reproduction lines it is better to outsource. For scanning, they are as good as the camera in them… this is one reason I’m a fan of Canon products. It does do a nice job on printing photos on good photo paper, and the black print is crisp and clean, provided you do regular cleanings and keep it dust free.


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