2017 Project 52: Self-Portrait

Today is the start of two new things I'm super excited about:  the very first installment of what I'm calling Creativity Mondays and the first week of my 2017 Project 52

Creativity Mondays are slated to be exactly that:  every Monday I'll endeavor to pass along to you the goings on in the creative world of Lauren Bee, whether it be a tutorial on the latest photo editing trick I've learned, sharing my most recent Conceptual Photography work, or presenting the weekly results of my Project 52 (or P52 for short).

My 2017 P52 is based loosely on Dogwood Photography's 52 Week Photography Challenge, in which participants are given a weekly theme or task to improve their photographic skills.  As I'm fairly proficient in the manual settings on my camera, and I've already experimented with a lot of photography techniques, tips, and methods over the last four years of my artistic journey, I'll actually be using the coming 52 weeks as a way to stretch my editing skills.  Right now I use a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, but by the end of 2017 I'd like to be able to say I can edit a photo 100% in Photoshop.  I've planned each week of my P52 to stretch and pull me to new heights as an artist -- and a skilled one at that.

Week one of my P52 was to create a Self Portrait.  I was actually super excited to embark upon this particular task because it touched on an idea I've had for about a year now -- an idea that wasn't quite within my grasp from a proficiency standpoint.  As was the case for a very long time, my imagination was adept ... but my abilities were not.

The idea:  I wanted a "head shot" for my Meet Lauren page, one that wasn't just a physical representation of my face or my smile or the glimmer in my eye, but which would also show my personality, who I am on the inside:  my passions, my abilities, my heart and soul.  I wanted my first impression upon visitors of my website to be honest and engaging, one that said "welcome to my wild Wonderland!"

The original concept was that my physical self -- my face, my stature, my eye color or haircut -- hardly any of it truly represents what's really going on inside.  My mind, if I'm completely honest, is an imaginative world unto itself, chock full of stories and fairy tales, shadows and light and hoped for wishes, a contradictory explosion of color and stark black and white, enamored of mystery and history and sparkles cast on rippled, sun-kissed water.  I'm constantly crafting sentences, blurting out movie quotes or song lyrics, or making mental lists that vary from the mundane (items to pick up from the grocery store) to the qualities one finds in a good Indian curry (spicy, sweet, and heavy-handed on the coconut milk, if you must know).  I'm a compendium of useless and trivial knowledge.  I dream epic sagas in technicolor.  I believe in magic, and pursue God with something akin to the fervent, feverish Taos hum.  I feel deeply, think emphatically, and experience empathically. 

It would be exhausting being me ... if I wasn't already so used to it! 

From a technical aspect, I've always loved collage work and even dabbled in mixed media and paper piecing in fine art school;  I once had a piece stolen from a public art exhibit and hope it is hung somewhere being enjoyed ... wherever it is.  I wanted this self-portrait to be more than just a striking image, opting for the evocative nature of collage, because on a deeper level, I feel so often that I'm a whole made of so many diverse bits, scattered all over the place, nowhere and everywhere all at once, whilst moving about the world in a seemingly "put together" outward shell. 

I think we all are.

Curious how it was done?  Enjoy the video below, a three and half minute speed-edit covering two-ish of the 6+ hours it took to create the final piece.