Monday, October 15, 2012

Self Portrait

Self Portrait.  Stitched words: I quit my job to pursue ART. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin with new and vintage buttons. 25" x 19", unframed; 31” x 25” framed.  Click on image to enlarge.

Over a weekend in May 2008, I finished the second piece in my new Decision Portrait Series. Because I don't really draw, I've never even thought about a self-portrait. Most artists I know have created at least one. Historically, self-portraits have been used to study the inner soul of their makers. Self-portraits are markers of the artist's development and signs of the time. They are often viewed as signatures left by an artist for posterity. Wow! That's a lot to live up to...a lot to think about.

Approaching this piece, my first self-portrait, I had to decide how I'd like to stitch it. I got nervous, but the answer came to me as if on the wings of serendipity. An email from my good blogging friend Doreen G in Australia mentioned buttons...using buttons to sew together a quilt. The sentence wasn't a suggestion; Doreen knew nothing of my project at the time; but, suddenly I had a vision and the project just came together from that point. I truly like my self-portrait, which is something I didn't think I'd be saying at the onset. Generally, I dislike images of me.

Okay, I didn't really "quit" my job.... but I did. Before July 2001 I ran a full-service custom picture framing shop on the first floor of my large, downtown historical home. Steve and I had fourteen on payroll, offered full health benefits, a retirement plan, paid vacations, and over-time. I was, unfortunately, the only one working ALL THE TIME...twelve to eighteen hour days, seven days a week, fifty weeks a year. (Even I stopped between Christmas and News Years!)

Business was still growing. Many employees were truly nightmares. I had stopped sleeping, hated life, and was miserable. Finally, I had to admit to myself that I wanted to make art. Without training or experience, I finally fired my head mat cutter (for more reasons than are worth listing…though later he would pose for a Decision Portrait!) This started a two year process to downsize Mouse House, my business. Steve and I helped other employees get new jobs. Now, the business is just Steve and me.... happiness.

We still frame on a very limited basis...for people who trust me to make all the decisions in their absence! We are picky as to whom we accept as clients. So, in a sense, I'm still a picture framer.... but I did QUIT.... I quit being the head designer who met with people all day, every day. I quit being the manager. I quit running the business. I quit how I spent all my order to become an artist. It's been a wild ride. I don't know if all this is reflected in my portrait...but the buttons are both new and old...and I'm smiling!

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