Shutter brother, Artfarmer, in the studio with his self portrait.
Artists use self-portraits to explore the basic question that plagues all of us: who am I? As early as the mid 1400’s artists began painting themselves onto canvas. Later, with the invention of the camera (and mirrors) photographers began turning the image (and their artwork) inward as well. Yes, a mirror or a photograph can tell a person what he or she looks like, but we all know that the physical image doesn’t reflect the whole self. We all know that photography can be 99% optical illusion. Self-portraiture insists that an artist embark on the journey of self-exploration. This journey of self brings about choices, the main one being how to represent him/herself authentically. You always get to choose how you see yourself, that is the beauty of self portraits. There’s a growing group of like-minded friends ready to begin the journey of self… just as artists have done for hundreds of years. Does self portraiture call to you as well?
There are lots of conversations I’ve seen online lately discussing the concept of “everyday beauty” and people are torn as to what that exactly means. Some folks feel this phrase has been overused, misused, or misconstrued. Everyday beauty is sometimes not beautiful at all, right? It’s messy… we all know this. And so going with the literal definition of “beauty” can be confusing when approaching a topic as broad as art and self. And yet so often we try our best to clean it up. We shine it and polish it and try to make it presentable. Are we caught up in comparing our insides to other people’s outsides? We photoshop and airbrush and texturize and soften. I have been known to do these things too, because I want to see what is aesthetically pleasing with my life… and so I organize the composition of my frame to put chaos into order. But can’t everyday beauty include chaos? What is real is what is true: it’s dishes in the sink, migraines, new love, and decay. Sometimes it screams in your face, sometimes it laughs.
So, what is beautiful? Everyone has their own opinion. Self is beautiful, as is optical illusion. I believe life and reality… and the thought that we are here at all with our paints and film, exploring these thoughts… that is beautiful. All of it, no matter what, is worth documenting. You are allowed to view your life and your self with whatever filters you want to use. It’s your life and your everyday! Your masculinity, your femininity, your weakness, your strength… it’s all truth and worthy of being seen.
Today I’d love to hear your thoughts and words on the subject. What do you find yourself portraying most in your images? Why do we do the things we do? Share any images today of what you find to be beautiful, and help us redefine everyday beauty.