Tuesday, September 1, 2009

W.I.P. Self-Portrait - Step 1 - Drawing

I put this off for the longest time. Resisted, procrastinated, and just plain stopped. It's probably due to the subject matter.

This latest self-portrait deals with depression. A necessary piece for me to complete so that I can give those deep-rooted feelings a voice and finally express them in a visual way.

All of the previous elements from "Ugly" (self-portrait) are here. The star on the forehead, the plants, the tears. Butterflies were added because lately they've come to represent freedom for me.      A beautiful kind of freedom.

I would've preferred to show this self-portrait only as a finished piece but I liked the way the drawing turned out so much I thought it would be neat to share as a work-in-progress.

When I created my "Ugly" self-portrait I used just a mirror. It was meant to be a warped image so I wasn't concerned with being 100% accurate. This time around I used a photo reference.

I admit to still cringing when drawing myself. Having to stare and study my photograph makes me notice all the irregularities and uneven angles in my face. But I'm determined for this newest piece NOT to be "Ugly" Part 2!

The goal wasn't to create a spitting image but a recognizable likeness instead. I think I came close enough.

Next I'll lay down the paint and bring this painting to life!


Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Oh No!
my first thought was what a great line drawing!
Now, I'm no one to talk about pulling yourself up by your butt and making it happen because sometimes I haven't been able to do that but over all, I have never given up either. So just go for it. Take a class at a local art association and see what happens. You're young.
You have your whole life ahead of you :D

Anonymous said...

It's a beautiful piece. I feel your pain and see the hope in your eyes.

Anonymous said...

It should not be an Ugly part II because you are a handsome devil. Yes, I know when people tell me that I always think they're shining me on, too. But I thought it was worth a shot. I'm sure the painting will come out great!

Dean Grey said...


I will try and go for it!



I appreciate it! Let's hope that hope/pain comes through in the finished piece!



That's quite nice of you!


Thanks to the three of you for commenting!


Meeko Fabulous said...

Dean! It looks quite promising so far. I don't think it'll be ugly at all! You would have to be drawing an ugly person for the painting to come out ugly and you are not ugly my friend.

Dean Grey said...

Thank you for the kind words, Meeko!

I don't always feel that way about myself but I do appreciate hearing it!


L.Holm said...

Hi, Dean!
I'm just catching up w/everyone again. Glad you are out and about. Especially glad your still creating art. Wonderful drawing. Your work is so expressive and always honest.
I like seeing how you start a piece, so thanks for posting this pre-color.

Thanks for your kind words earlier.

Pilgrim said...

Dean, IMO you rather don´t color it, but use graphite and pencil for depth and shades. The result might look better than in flashy colors. Propz Pilgrim

Unknown said...

Dean, I can't wait to see how this looks when painted. Sorry to hear about your job loss, but now you have more time to paint, to try new ideas, to experiment with art materials.....and your broken heart piece was really special. You have a gift, Dean.

L.Holm said...

Hi, Dean - I could have sworn I left a comment here--I've looked at your new self-portrait twice. (eeeks, I think I'm losing my marbles)

I love this drawing. Has so much going on. Can't wait to see what you do with the colors in it. It's very powerful. Really like the direct gaze, and symbols coming in.

Kathleen Coy said...

So beautiful!!! The leaves, star, and butterflies bring so much strength, magic and hope to this self portrait, Dean! Which is what's been inside you all along. :-)

Dean Grey said...


No, you're not losing your marbles! I just didn't publish your first comment right away that's all.

Glad you like the drawing!



I appreciate the suggestion about leaving this latest self-portrait colorless.

But I have my heart set on painting this!

Don't worry though. This won't be full of "flashy" colors. I plan on using muted tones instead. Watch and see!



Thank you!



That's awfully nice of you!


Thanks to all of you for chiming in!


elsie said...

I so glad you found me, so that I could find you... you articulate your feelings so beautifully... as a therapist I rarely "romanticize" depression or anxiety but you have a way with words and art that I find very profound and comforting...

Lori said...

I looked at the drawing, looked at your side picture and looked back and forth somemore...I see in your side photo a person I'm beginning to know. The one like me fighting depression and life. But when I contrast the drawing, as many have said, your very adorable, handsome! There is a sexuality that you have that draws people in, well at least I think so. Is it the mother in me who wants to wipe away your pain or the woman who thinks your beautiful? In either I could embrace you cause I feel you deserve it. I see gentleness, wonder, a soft side that has felt the need to put up walls to protect yourself. I'm not judging about the walls for I live within my own created ones for safety.But Dean I do get the drawing, I really do. If I was to draw myself in what I feel inside, I would scare myself. And then others wouldn't agree. So like I wonder, do we put on another face in public cause is it anyones business really how we feel? Or do we think they don't give a rats behind how we do? I don't know I'm rambling again. Made it through a week of classes and felt so alive, then came home and felt so dead! But, Gotta move forward thats my plan. You hang in there o.k.,your such a wonderful guy, honestly! I care about you.

Leigh said...


I love this work in progress. It's captivating. I feel torn looking at it, torn between the beauty of your face and the sorrow your face portrays. Can't wait to see the finished product.

P.S. You're really quite handsome!

Dean Grey said...


Likewise, I'm so glad I found you so that you could find me! LOL

I'm glad you like my way with words!

Welcome to "The Doughnut Gang!"




You're right! I definitely put up walls around myself so I won't get hurt....and they're still there!

I don't necessarily put on a different face in public but wear a "guarded face" instead.

Your idea of moving forward sounds like a good plan!



I hope this piece can still captivate you once it's completed!


I appreciate hearing from you three ladies!


Jo Anna (Jo) Rae said...

Wow. My adjectives fail me.

Hi--Jo here stopping by to check you out after you left a groovy comment on my blog--thanks for stopping by, Dean!

I think you're VERY talented--and I'm digging the butterflies. Freedom--indeed, but also they represent evolving so beautifully.

And as an artist--that is exactly what you are doing.

Nothing 'ugly' about it.

Peace, love and happiness,
"Diary Of A Sad Housewife"

Dean Grey said...


Thanks for stopping by!

So, I'm evolving? I like that notion!


Anonymous said...

Dean. first let me say thank you for stopping by my blog, your comments were very nice, thank you.

now about this being ugly...i think we must be our own worst critics, because looking at both you bio pic and your drawingg I see a very handsome guy with alot of depth and feeling.

shine on my friend...i get the butterfly thing, believe me..i will have to share my story with you sometime.

again, peace my friend:)

Dean Grey said...


Let me thank YOU for stopping by my blog too!

I agree, we can be our own worst critic sometimes. Oh, and share your story anytime you like!

Thanks again!


Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

This is a fabulous drawing - self portrait or otherwise! Dean, many people, particularly creative people deal with depression - you're learning to make it work for you and turn it into a positive tool! Yeah, it's TOUGH to do a self portrait (is my nose THAT bad? What are those bags doing under my eyes?) but you're honest and skillful. You GO!

Anonymous said...

I love the comments people have made! Dean! What a great expressive drawing. GREAT. I can't wait to see the progression to a painting. I actually did art therapy for nearly a year at the height of my depression. All I could ever come up with was an angry black ball with jagged edges...I love that you added your "freedom" to the drawing!

Dean Grey said...


I'm definitely trying to express the depression than keep it bottled up inside as I have done so often in the past.



I love the comments everyone has left as well....including yours!

Art therapy for a year, huh? I'd really like to see some of those pieces!


I appreciate hearing from you two ladies!!


amar said...

I love seeing art as a work-in-progress. I think it's fabulous that you share these with the public. It shows that you have a great deal of confidence as an artist--and you have every right to be! I am honored to be a witness to great art in the making.

I'm not an artist. I do dabble, and have produced some pretty impressive bad art. I would like to take an art class sometime and give it a real go and make it a skilled hobby. This here blog will serve as a teaching tool.

When I look at this piece, I can see it's enormous potential. I really like the pose and expression. I especially like your hand position.

I think self portraits are very potent. I'm excited to see this piece in color.

Dean Grey said...


Thanks for visiting and for the kind words.

I really DON'T have a great deal of confidence in myself as an artist.

I just thought the w.i.p. would allow others to see how this piece was created....should it turn out okay.

I'm glad you see this drawing's potential. I hope I don't disappoint you with the end result!

Thanks again!


Gwen Bell said...

My first impression before I read your displeasure was "what a cool self-portrait!" I thought you wanted the blue to signify your depression or something arty like that. It has a LOT of emotion in it and I find it quite beautiful...but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sadly, sometimes we don't see the beauty in ourselves they way others do.
I'm bummed because I can't see the "Self Portrait I. The image didn't show up for me on here. Don't worry...I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong on my end.

Dean Grey said...


You still can't see the original pencil drawing in step 1?!?!

Oh, how frustrating! I hope everyone else is able to see this properly. If not, please let me know!

Yes, I definitely wanted the blue in the self-portrait to signify the depression.

But the blue wash turned the face muddy looking and almost green in appearance! That's not the look I was going for!

I'm going to try to fix it though!

Thanks Gwen!


pathetic prophet said...

I understand your depresion - I lived with it for many years - but not liking your appearance? Come on; you're gorgeous!!!!! Soulful and sexy, with a charismatic drawing power that just draws a person into your life. I may never get to do it, but I'd really like to meet you.
Be easier with yourself.

Dean Grey said...

pathetic prophet!

I appreciate the kind words!!