Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What’s in a Face?

By Wendy Wahman

Self portraits. You look in the mirror and draw what you see. Or do you draw how you feel? Maybe you draw hints of who you are, or who you think you are – or wish you were.

Self portraits haven’t been a part of my drawing life, so I wondered how the other Whatsits felt about them:

Is this your first self portrait?

Ben Clanton

BEN CLANTON: Not my first self portrait. I seem to end up doing a new one a couple times a year just to shake things up.

I think every time I draw a character it’s really a bit of a self-portrait. For example, my sketchbooks are full of pigs and monsters—no doubt manifestations of an unfortunate porcine childhood nickname, and of memories of my father referring to my siblings and me as, “little monsters.” I also tend to put many of my characters in dresses. I didn’t wear pretty dresses when I was little, nor did I play dress-up or with dolls. I think I must be making up for lost time.

KEVAN ATTEBERRY: Good grief, no. I have often been my subject of choice.

JENNIFER K. MANN: No, but I don’t think I have saved any self-portraits over the years. Or I have, but I have no idea where.

WENDY WAHMAN: I’ve drawn one other that I’m aware of.

How did you feel when as a group we decided to do self portraits for the blog?

Elizabeth Rose Stanton

BC: I feel like self portraits can be a lot more fun and interesting than a headshot so I thought the self portraits were a good opportunity. Of course, that is before I had to sit down and do one. Drawing myself is always tricky. I want to be both kind but true to who I am. Seeing oneself clearly is not easy, but then again that is part of what makes self portraiture interesting.

ERS: I knew, having been a portrait artist, it was going to be all or nothing, so I drew my alter ego, a cat.

KA: It was kind of a relief. I can’t think of many—if any—pictures of me that I like. I always want to take them into Photoshop and make them more palatable.

JKM: I wasn’t worried. Maybe I should have been.

WW: A cold chill ran up my spine. After that subsided, I figured I’d find a way to make it fun, and I did.

How did it feel when you first sat down to draw?

Kevan Atteberry

BC: I felt like my drawing turned out pretty accurate. Amazing what a few lines can say about a person. I see someone who is kind, a bit unsure, and a bit something else. ;)

ERS: Rather like a cat, because cats rarely do as they are asked.

KA: I felt this would be easy and fun.

JKM: Ah, well, that is when all the awkwardness took over. I decided before I started not to get too worked up about how I would make it. So I drew a quick representation of myself, the way I draw my characters, dots for eyes, etc. And yes, I did look in a mirror. But of course my family looked at it and said things like “you have much more hair than that,” or, “your eyes look aren’t that beady.”

WW: I never sat down, actually. I drew it on a post-it note, standing (like a stork) in the kitchen while feeding my dogs. One of those, quick, quick draw fast before my inner critic wakes up and I go all squirrelly with choices.

How do you feel now that it’s done?

Jennifer K. Mann

BC: I’m afraid I was a bit boring and went with a head shot.

ERS: Like a cat.

KA: I am happy with it. I think I made my image comically more interesting.

JKM: It’s okay! Maybe I'll keep at this.

WW: It’s me, pretty much. Poodly, smiley old ballerina turned yogi who stands around like a stork sometimes.

Will you draw another sometime?

Wendy Wahman

BC: I’m sure I'll do another at some point. I considered redoing it straight away but figured it would do for the time being.

ERS: Yes—in some way, shape, or form—almost every day.

KA: Oh yeah. Like I said, I am often my subject of choice. I think when I illustrate me, I may be trying to share bits of who I am without actually having to say it.

JKM: Oh yes. My mother-in-law, who is an artist, did 100 self portraits of herself over a fairly short period of time, in varied media, some with her eyes closed, some with her left hand. They were each so different and so evocative, and although many were fairly abstract, I could see her in every one of them. I would like to try that myself.

WW: Possibly. But there are so many other things I’d rather draw.

Ben is really a Narwhal.
The Three Bens.

“…my father referred to my siblings and me as, “little monsters.” – Elizabeth Rose Stanton
Put a dress on that Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is on the left… no wait, right. Left, right….
An Elizacat.
Fly me a dress, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, your tail is showing.

Kevan and Co.
Kevan after a hard Whatsits’ critique.
Thank you, Sir.
Kevan at Burning Man.

Ginjifer, aka, Ginger, aka Jennifer from TWO SPECKLED EGGS, Candlewick, 2014.
2nd grade Jennifer and inspiration for, I’LL NEVER GET A STAR 
ON MRS. BENSON’S BLACKBOARD, Candlewick, 2015.

From Wendy’s first published book, ASIDES,
Metamorphosis Press, a zillion years ago. Not for kids.
Wendy, relaxing at home…
… and being a stork.



  1. Loved every picture on this page. Hooray for whimsy! Congrats on the launch of your blog.

  2. Thank you, Barbara. Elizabeth, do you know Barbara's, Friend for the Ride? https://friendfortheride.wordpress.com/ Excellent.

  3. This is great, I love all the self portraits at the end as well! And Elizabeth has such a lovely tail...

  4. Thank you Whatsits! This is fun! And what a great idea to share a blog. I'll be back.

  5. It looks like you're all having fun in here!! I look forward to following you.Thanks for the visit to my new 'other' blog, Elizabeth .... busy ...busy ...busy!