Drawing In Reverse: A frustrated artist and a semi-self portrait // What I have learned in ART 160

So far, I’ve enjoyed every single one of our art projects, the self-portrait however, was my least favorite thus far. For the life of me, I couldn’t comprehend how one was supposed to draw a portrait in reverse, so non-conventional yet so simple at the same time. The trick- “just follow the light” yet I knew not where the hell the light was and exactly how to follow it.

When I first started on my portrait, everything seemed pretty simple, begin with the lightest light and work your way out, the concept didn’t seem so difficult at the time, yet the more I tried to expand from the tiny light spot and create a nose out of it, the more confused and frustrated I became. How do I erase a black nose from a black canvas I asked myself? How do I determine the gradient for my skin color I asked myself? What on God’s earth am I expecting from myself with this particular piece I asked myself? I asked myself so many question that instead of immersing myself into the drawing of myself I became obsessed with the idea of making myself look good and getting myself right. I couldn’t stand it when I made a mistake and would have to start over again, it’s funny, the medium was so forgiving towards me yet I was unforgiving to myself and that is probably why for some reason as hard as I tried my self portrait and I couldn’t connect. I didn’t allow it because I couldn’t conceive it. I was drawn to the idea of the abstract and creating life out of black yet my approach dwelled on practicality and I was one hundred percent dependent on my 5 basic senses. I felt as though if I couldn’t see my drawing process come to fruition as an exact reflection of what I was seeing in the mirror then I was wrong, and this, is where my problem lies. For me, drawing this self portrait was much more than just a mere art project, it was a chance for self-reflection and what I learned from my reflection is that I am not exactly what I see in the mirror and I never will be, this is because I am a work in progress every single day. Just like the portrait, no matter how many notes I take and corrections I try to make, Im not gonna wake up and suddenly figure it out. It takes patience, it takes making mistakes and understanding where you went wrong, facilitating those mistakes and morphing them into successes, being brave enough to understand that achievement is not directly correlated with growth. You get to a certain point and you achieve something. Its achieved, its done. However, you never stop growing, growth is a process with no end in sight, it continues to persist and so should I. With this being said, although I was unable to complete my portrait, I am proud to present my work in progress

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Throughout this semester ART 160 has probably been my greatest challenge and joy, I loved coming to class each time because it was a chance to learn something new about life and by now we should all know, art does not imitate life, it is, in fact, the other way around. Life imitates art. As I watched myself and all my fellow classmates create and re-create concepts and ideas that were beyond our normal realms of thinking and engaging with the world around us, I was genuinely moved and inspired with each new project adventure. Through the chair project, I learned that each and every one of us chooses our position in life and from this position we look and analyze, we create and respond to the ever changing nature of our creation, we respond to the materials we use and the new directions in which our prior mistakes lead us. From the box project, I was taught about the concept of dimentionality and its cunning ability to endure whatever material it is presented with. Each of us used different textures for our boxes yet were all able to create the general structure of a three dimensional box.To me, this symbolized the malleability of our 3D world how the earth, moon, sun and stars are dying to bend, curve and loop so as to assist us in creating our desired realities. The animal project, taught me about the power of positivity and the strength of pure intention. It also made me see how animals are attuned to their senses and adaptations in order to thrive while we as human beings are slowly diminishing our instinct for survival and caring for ourselves as we become more dependent on technology. Through the word project, I came to understand the power of language and how we choose to define the words we use for ourselves and for others. Why we are drawn to certain words and neglect others and the social/cultural/mental/emotional weight we place on our words without even realizing it.

Through the course of the semester we learned to be compassionate, and forgiving towards ourselves and one another, to immerse ourselves in our flaws because what takes shape once you accept them is something grander and so simple yet absolutely complex once you start to consider all the miraculous “accidents” and happenings that conspired and transpired in order for you to become exactly who you are and are going to be and this was all taught in the form of Art. Nel,I don’t know if you really sat down to consider the impact of the subtle lessons you shared with us through the course but each project was meaningful in a million ways and I am really grateful to have been able to take ART 160 with you this year. Thank You! 🙂


Neil Harbisson Hears Color!

I really love music, and one of my favorite things to do, has been to identify songs and sounds as colors instead of notes. I started making music when I was 15 years old, and the last project I worked on in 2012 were songs that were created and mixed according to feeling and color. The project was titled “Heliotrope” which is a shade of the color purple. I first learned about the color while reading Oscar Wilde’s play “An Ideal Husband” where one of the characters, Ms. Chevely was described wearing a heliotrope gown, I thought it was a beautiful word and thought wow, imagine if I could create a project with a concept surrounding the idea of sound as color. I was very delighted when a friend of mine shared Neil Harbisson’s post on her Facebook page because I really thought I was the only one that saw sound as such, but for this man to HEAR COLOR, that is just magical and extends his senses far beyond what we as human beings render possible. It is important for us to know that we are all creators and can achieve beyond the spectrum of what societal constructs have deemed do-able or outright unimaginable. The fact is, if you can imagine, you can create. Visualization is key to manifestation and this man is living proof… one time for the boy Neil Harbisson! Since color (more like the lack of) was a much discussed topic for our last project, I thought i’d share this.

*Shameless plug alert Incase you wanted to hear what I was working with back in the day, this is one of the songs from the Heliotrope project tited EleKtrikGuitar that my collaborator/producer Eugene and I wrote, produced and recorded together. The colors for this song were Orange, Pink, and EleKtric Blue

Sheila Pree Bright

I was in attendance for Sheila Pree Bright’s presentation/discussion on her Young Americans exhibitions as well as her other works. I really enjoyed seeing such an intelligent and creative woman get to express herself and share her art with other young women. I was especially drawn to her discussion of her first  art project, one which included a photograph series of young black men from all walks of life asked to pose in a photo shoot. Sheila described how when each man was asked to pose, they would usually put up hand signs that were representative of guns or violence in some way. Sheila shed a remarkable light on black men and how they are perceived in American culture as hostile and riotous individuals when their bluntly expressions are subtle ways of relaying how they choose to protect themselves in a society that in no way seeks to protect them. Out of all three of Sheila Pree Bright’s exhibition discussions this one was the most relevant and important to me, the fact that photographs that were taken at least a decade ago can still ring true to the issues men of color continue to face (just observe the Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin cases) The understanding I gained from Pree Bright’s discussion of this series of photographs is that although it is very unfortunate for men of color to immediately respond to the request of a pose with gun signs, when their own black culture calls for them to be tough and strong, while American law calls for them to be obedient and submissive to laws that do not serve to ensure their safety, whether he is at a photoshoot or the grocery store or staring directly down the barrel of the gun of another who wishes to erase your entire black existence, can a man be blamed if his first instinct is to protect themselves at all costs? Sheila Pree Bright’s photographs asked and answered a lot of questions that not just people of color, but all individuals should seek a personal understanding and truth of such racial matters.

*Sidenote: I had some great pictures that I took of Sheila during her discussion as well as some selfies that I took of myself (duh) that I was going to post but unfortunately my phone fell in the toilet two hours ago and is officially kaput so .. no pictures I guess, sorry guys!

Sheenus Sparklus Pristophorous

Shimmering Sparkling Saw Shark

Shimmering Sparkling Saw Shark

Gayle strikes an aquatic pose.

Gayle strikes an aquatic pose.

Meet Gayle, The Shimmering Sparkling Saw Shark. 

Gayle is a Forensic Aquatic Animal that aids in underwater rescue, her job is to seek out and save drowning divers/swimmers and others who partake in aquatic activities. She also finds bodies that are difficult to retrieve in deep waters due to the vicious current and lack of proper light in underwater circumstances.


Gayle’s boasts a 20 foot long, 7 foot wide frame and touts a slim 2,000 LB body mass, I say slim because some sharks can weight up to 47,000 LBs so she’s pretty fit and sexy for her size, not to mention her build is an adaptation for her lightning speed capabilities as she can travel at a max speed of 250 mph underwater.  Gayle’s entire body is made of gold scales that serve as an external source of light as well as a light reflector. The light shone from Gayle’s body reaches a 20 mile radius at an angle of 360 degrees (Light reflects in all directions) she has 10 gills in total, 6 small top gills and 4 Large bottom gills which can also be activated to serve as an additional source of light and heat in extremely dark and low temperature waters.

Her long snout is used to cut through waters which helps increase her speed, it also acts as a detector of the human stress hormones Cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) that are activated when a swimmer/diver is experiencing stress due to drowning/excessive movement underwater. The pointy spikes in her eyes serve as antennas that guide her in assessing the location of a diver/swimmer in need of rescue.

Gayle is a first generation SSP, who recently found love in the seas of South Africa. She met Congo, her mate/husband while on a mission to rescue 6 missing bodies whose boat sunk off the coast of Mozambique in Lake Malawi. Gayle was thrilled to find another SSP, she sites his athletic build and Platinum scales as what first drew her to Congo. They are now expecting a school of second generation SSPs, they hope to give birth to 12 new SSP’s but will also settle for 10. Gayle and Congo are currently on vacation in the Bajan waters of the Bahamas.

The Process:

If I tell you that creating Gayle was an easy, hassle-free process, that would be a total fabrication because making Gayle was HARD. REALLY HARD. My initial Super Animal was supposed to be a cross between a Spider and a Jaguar, which I started and got fed up with about midway through its creation. I didn’t like the way it looked, its functions didn’t make sense to me and I was really annoyed at that point. I left the art studio that night and decided to sleep on it, maybe a better idea would come to me later. Came back on Sunday, and still no luck but I had no choice,I had to put something together because the project was due the next day. So I decided to start assembling random parts and see what it would eventually turn into, I didn’t know what Gayle was until I was completely done creating her. This time around, because the project was so open ended, I didn’t have a clear sense of direction. What I have taken away from this project is that when building a 3-D object, its always best to have a blueprint of some sort, this helps the mind navigate what to assemble and how to assemble it, because of my lack of a blue print it took me a while longer to process mentally how I wanted my super animal to look and exactly how to achieve this look.


Xin Yao’s Ziwen


Xin Yao’s Super Animal was so flawlessly and carefully put together, the personal significance is impossible to disregard, The fact that her animal is so small yet so detailed is an ode to her craftsmanship and  artistic precision. The wings and the white rose are my favorite parts of the piece I think they add a wonderful flair to the animal, its interesting how two small things are so subtly powerful and present. Without them, Xin Yao’s piece simply wouldn’t be the same. The entire piece has a tranquil effect on its witnesses and the materials function easily in demonstrating the animals super power, which is bringing calm and healing to sick cancer patients.

THA BOX (My Xperience and Spotlight on other boxes)

The only thing I remember thinking to myself during the drawing stage of “The Box Project” was damn, why didn’t anybody tell me it would be this hard to draw a box, much like The Chair Project, the precision and attention to lines, angles and planes nearly blew my mind. Im not kidding. So, I get through drawing this box that I must have erased and started over like twenty times and Professor Ruby hits us with the … Op! .. You’re not done yet, there’s more! and once again, I’m thinking, “It was hard enough for me to draw this box, now you want me to get all artistic with it too? Damn Prof. Ruby.. Damn,Damn,Damn.”

I started the second phase of The Box Project very skeptical of my ability to properly comprehend and translate the idea of a plain cardboard box into a less tangible version that required me to get creative with shape, size, texture, dimension etcetera etcetera … all things I know absolutely nothing about, but yet again, by the end of it all, I had surprised myself. My initial gradient was rushed, incoherent and confused. This became even more apparent when I attended class that day and all the other ladies had come up with such beautiful ideas on how to turn these simple boxes into pieces that identified their individualism and creativity (Shoutout to Anastasia (Hair Box), Alison (Sweater Box), Knia (Rihanna Box), Sydney (Letter/Word Box), Xin Yao (I don’t remember what your gradient was Box but it was still very well done) also The Peach Box, and Flower Box get an honorable mention. I’ll talk more about these later in the post) Needless to say, I was feeling a little insecure and decided to step my game up. In the words of my favorite Light Skinned rapper Drake, I had to go from “0 to a 100 … REAL QUICK!” lol. So I went back to my room that day determined to boost my self esteem and prove to myself that I, too could “think outside the Box” (I’m kiling this post with the puns and punchlines, y’all are going to need The father, son and holy spirit to revive you after I’m finished with this one) So I went outside and took pictures of everything, grass, bushes, ferns, light bulbs .. you name it, I framed it. (WHOO KILLL EM!) and something hit me at the end of my photo shoot when I was back in my room, for some weird reason I keep all my receipts because I remember it was something my mom used to do, However, unlike her I keep mine in a small silver jewelry canister and not a shoe box (No shade to my mom) but I figure if you’re gonna keep receipts, keep it neat and classy (No shade again Mom, she is a very classy lady). So I looked at the receipts and I remembered how I used to tape receipts at the Res. Life office to sheets of A4 paper and turn them into the Accounts Department for record keeping and I thought to myself, “wow, it would be really cool to create a box made out of receipts.” All the other ladies had soft and pretty gradients and I thought receipts would be a very matter-of-fact way to approach the project. After much cutting and cementing over the last two or so days, It took me by surprise when I pasted my finished box onto the black cardboard paper. I was like “Oh my God.. I actually did it!” and to me it honestly didn’t matter that the receipt box wasn’t perfect and I didn’t completely achieve total dimensionality as I was supposed to, I was just really excited that I was able to complete the assignment successfully and in a way that creatively, I didn’t expect from myself and I’m sure a couple of you can relate. So congratulations to all of you (myself included) for your outstanding work. Each box was truly splendid and revealed aspects of your artistic as well as personality traits. Even though I didn’t look it (I’m not much of a smiler) I was genuinely delighted to see the quality of variation and how well all the boxes complimented one another. Kudos!

Spotlight Boxes:

My absolute favorite was the Hair box, there was something very sensual and soft about it. The way each pattern cascaded seamlessly into the next yet the presence of the box was so well defined, the precision and technique applied was just splendid. Someone in class mentioned that the darker boxes had a greater appeal and I believe this is  because of the mysterious quality each box unknowingly possessed. For example, The use of shadow on the sweater box, and the warmth of the gradient drew me in. It made me want to know what was being hidden inside this shadowed box that I couldn’t see on the outside.

The Letter/word box was a close second. The craftsmanship applied to the box was simply flawless, It was mind boggling for me to understand how someone could pay so much attention to detail from the tightness of the words to the direction of each plane of words to how all the different aspects (size, shape, space, dimension) coupled together to form a box that displayed ferocity,recklessness and rampage in perhaps the most neatly organized manner I have ever witnessed.

Comparing Processes… (Realized this post was saved as a draft and not published..sorry!)


Silver Circus


-The Still Life (The Silver Circus)

The hand exercise was excellent prep for the Still Life activity. Although my inhibitions were muted for the most part there were certain times when I caught myself thinking “It must look terrible under that paper” but I stopped caring and kept going. Its a wonderful feeling not to have to obsess over perfection and just let go and create. The process was mentally calming, the accompanying music allowed my mind to relax completely because that was what I was focused on for the most part, hearing sounds and seeing sights, it wasn’t really important whether I got it right or not.


Blind Contouring

-All Hands On Deck

My first reaction to my first drawing (excuse my language)… WTF?

When I started out drawing my hand blindly, I was mainly focused on trying to draw the hand as accurately as possible. However, the more hands I continued to draw the less concerned I became with precision and the more I started to enjoy the freedom of expression. My brain was completely relaxed and my eye and instinct were doing all the work which actually made every attempt after the first much easier and much more hand looking, lol… now the hands I drew with my non-dominant hand.. No comment. They looked like malnutritioned baby lizards.


The First Still Life w/o instruction

– The process for this task was quite simple for me, imagine a chair and draw it to the best of your ability. I quite enjoyed drawing this chair, even though its proportions and accuracy are way off, there wasn’t much pressure because I didn’t feel like much would be expected of a first time artist. I took a look at the chair I was sitting on and decide, Oh okay this is what a chair should look like, okay now draw it. Lol I think I tried though. Im not putting to much pressure on myself because the part that I am looking forward to the most this semester is the growth that I will witness in myself. If the necessary time and effort is put in, I can’t wait to see what the next chair I draw will look like by the end of the course.