Back to Real Me, ink and watercolor

Back to Real Me (if a bit squinty), ink and watercolor

Yesterday I was having a hard time with some issues and by the evening was full of negativity. I watched a little TV and tried to think of a way fix my rotten mood. Nothing sounded good until I had the idea to play dress up, take some photos and sketch myself as someone else, someone not in a bad mood.

Even though it was 9:00 at night, I put on a ton of makeup (which I rarely ever wear) including teal eye liner, blue eye shadow, maroon lipstick and as much blush as possible. I tied a turquoise bandana around my messy hair, put a pretty blouse over my ratty t-shirt and set my camera to shoot repeatedly. I posed the way I’d heard Usher on American Idol telling contestants to look through the camera as if they were connecting directly with their audience at home.

I set it to shoot again and pretended like I was on America’s Next Top Model, posing for a fancy photographer. Then I put the images up on the computer screen and sketched one from the screen and one from a mirror. Despite looking pleasant in the photos, my sketches looked as tortured and sad as I was feeling.

Tortured sketch (in mirror), Pretending sweetness (from photo)

Tortured sketch (in mirror), Pretending sweetness (from photo)

Tonight, in a better mood, I did these two, the one on the right drawn with a brush. I still wasn’t satisfied that I’d done the final self portrait to end the book.

Starting to feel better sketches (from photo)

Starting to feel better sketches (from photo)

Finally, I put my hair in a ponytail and sketched myself again in a mirror (the sketch at the top of the post) which I like and now officially ends the previous journal.

And here’s one of the photos I used for the sketches.

Pretending to be cheery

Pretending to be cheery

Last night I was pretending to be cheery and now tonight I am. Was it the pretending that changed my mood or is it the weekend?

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Category:
Drawing, Faces, Ink and watercolor wash, Life in general, Painting, People, Photos, Self Portrait, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 26 Comments

  1. What a great excercise. I wish I were as brave as you when it comes to trying out new things and pushing yourself in different directions. Brilliant!

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    • Thanks Andrea! On the other hand, there’s something to be said for not scattering off in all directions as I do, as your work clearly shows! You have continued to develop your approach and it just keeps getting better and richer. You have a unique style that is immediately recognizable as yours and it is well loved by all who see it. Jana

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  2. You are very brave to try an force yourself out of a bad place, with interesting results. Whether the exercises or the weekend cheered you up I hope you have a joyful weekend.

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  3. I have often wished to be someone else. Why didn’t I think of dressing up? LOL! Great psychological exercise. Mind games are good things right?

    PS: I think Fridays always make me happy:)

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    • I’m always so full of hope and optimism on Fridays, thinking all the things I will do on the weekend, that once I get over being tired I am so happy. Now that my work time is reduced to 50% I look forward to even more happy days like Fridays. Jana

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  4. Fantastic idea! I read this first off my iPod before I ever got out of bed. Way to start my day with a smile. Watch out GF, I may draw you one of these days!

    Did you ever want to pull a Cindy Sherman, and dress up more theatrically? As a character from history or a novel? Just thinking “out loud” here.

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    • Yep! I looked around for more costumey stuff ala Sherman and considered putting either a lampshade or one of my Aunt Bernice’s crocheted dishcloths on my head but decided on tying on the scarf instead. But I’m going to start looking around at thrift shops for disguises and funny hats. Feel free to draw me. That would be fun to see! Jana

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  5. Jana: I also like the one you chose to end your journal. Don’t you find the areas around the mouth to be one of the trickiest parts of a portrait? Hard to indicate the creases (especially in a smile or semi-smile) without goofing. I got a good laugh, imagining you in these various getups, trying to lift yourself out of a glum mood…you are not so far removed from the “little girl” after all! And, IT WORKED!

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    • Rita, what’s interesting about your comment is that in one of my photos I definitely saw the same face peering out at me as in a painting my uncle did of me when I was about 4 years old. As far as drawing the mouth and creases, I was torn between drawing every wrinkle, having fun with color and expression or doing more like a normal watercolor portrait. So I did hybrids I guess. Jana

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  6. All of us above agree that you are brave and creative (and highly entertaining, you betcha). What a great way to deal with moods. I really look forward to each post because you are full of such wonderful surprises and sketches and paintings.
    annie

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    • Thank you so much Annie for your wonderfully kind words and encouragement! My best friend and I were talking about blogging today (she is a ceramic artist and an on and off blogger) and I was glad I’d read your message this morning and could repeat your words to her, encouraging her to just be herself and entertain us with her art and life–which I find to be a lot more interesting than if she were just posting excellent art every day. Jana

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  7. Wow, everyone said it better than I would, but let me second your bravery in trying new things, not sinking in to the bad mood but battling your way out creatively. I love your openness in sharing your day, your moods, your paintings and sketches, even the ones you’re not crazy about, and all the details you provide. Here’s to the start of a new sketchbook—all that possibility and promise!!!

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    • Thanks Carol! I know I’ve been a bit remiss lately in responding to comments due to a couple of difficult weeks, but please know that I really appreciate that you take the time to write and offer encouragement and wisdom! Jana

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  8. I think you picked a great exercise to pick yourself back up; but what impresses me the most is how far you were willing to go for the results! You changed clothes and put on make-up at 9pm! Heroic efforts…you deserve to be happy! I think the sketches are great, btw. Self-portraits are difficult to look happy in (in front of the mirror) anyway, so to do it when you’re feeling bad…Great job!

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    • I was rather pleased with myself, I have to admit. Although for a moment there I worried my sister when I told her what I’d done. At first she thought I was turning into one of those odd old ladies you see wandering around, overly made up. But I didn’t go out, just sort of went “inside” instead and it definitely helped. Although looking too closely in the mirror is a bit scary these days. Jana

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  9. Jana, you are awesome! What a neat idea to use sketching to look deep into yourself and pull yourself up by shoestrings! It also takes a lot of courage to do self-portraits like that. I admire you!

    Also a thank you for posting your thinking and experience with this. Now that I have this thought filed away perhaps I will use it next time I feel low.

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    • Thanks Alex. It was kind of hard to get myself out of the recliner and into the studio, but I was glad I had a journal to welcome my thoughts and sketches and that I could “torture” the page (instead of myself) while listening to a book on CD (that was way better than anything on stupid TV). Jana

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  10. Remind me of when I was a kid and we would dress up and make up to try on different personas. Playing is good! I always enjoy your adventures, whether sad or happy…you are very open and human.

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    • Thanks for reminding me about our favorite game when I was a kid. My sister and our friends would make up stories and pick roles and act them out. They usually started with “Let’s pretend like we don’t have parents and we live on a boat/farm/mountain/etc. Our bunk beds usually stood in for the boat, etc. Jana

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  11. Greetings Jana,

    It is a pleasure to meet and I feel that which you have done is great. Taking your negative energies and working through it in a positive manner and at the same time producing art is incredible.

    Wishing you a wonderful Easter day Sunday,
    Egmont

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  12. Hahahaha…what a nice photo of you. You didn’t look at all grumpy in the photo!! So…good for you! And thanks for that personal answer to my comments about en plein air too!!! Self discipline is what it takes to move yourself out of sad to glad. I always remember a workshop I went to where the gal reminded us that is a “decision” how to react to things. You get to choose.
    You chose “positive”. The proverbial lemon to lemonade story! But in such a creative way!!! It is Easter dawn as I write this in central Fl. A slight fog laying over our little pond out back..everything absolutely still. A good time to make choices. Happy Easter Jan!

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  13. wonderful idea. and yes I think we create our own moods, which effects everything and everyone around us as well. I know for myself the hardest part, when I am feeling all negative and yucky, is to see it and change it. So good for you that you saw and changed it for yourself.
    peace n abundance,
    CheyAnne
    http://cheyannesexton.etsy.com

    ps so glad you are happy today

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  14. Wonderful post, Jana. I love how you took us through your process and the results are great. You have such creative ideas. Now I’m going to have to try that dress up/make-up thing.

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  15. What a strategy! Nice photo and interesting treatments by you. One of my friends dresses up in theatrical hats – and nothing else. Okay she occasionally models and tells everyone at our parties about her life as a model – much to the embarrassment and amazement of some of our friends.
    Doing the rounds in op-shops would provide lots of interesting dress-ups.
    Wendy

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  16. great post and love your sketches!! I know they always say your thinking can change your mood (and I do believe it, my thinking OFTEN puts me in a bad mood!) but once I’m in that negative mood I forget to try to think myself out of it. Next time I’ll try your exercise here 😉
    thanks!!

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  17. Jana..it is interesting that if we act a certain way we can actually begin to feel that way. Your ability to create a way out of your bad mood and record the metamorphosis is incredible!

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