Sunday, February 27, 2011

All About Me

One thing that was a bit tough to get used to when I first started this blog was that whatever I might do, this blog is about me - my thoughts, my art. I was not used to publicly displaying anything about "me", and even more disconcerting, with a blog you must have an AVATAR.

I love the word AVATAR. According to, avatar means:

1. Hindu Mythology . the descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god.

2. an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.

It is a powerful word.

But for a blog, an avatar is merely, well, your picture.

So I was a bit shy for my first avatar. It was a cartoon I had drawn of myself painting. A cartoon is friendly, and anonymous.

But then as I got to know other artists online, and knew what they looked like, I felt like I was hiding. So I impulsively ripped off the mask by using my cell phone to take a picture of myself, and used that as my new avatar. Some folks missed my cartoon image, and so did I.

This is especially true since my wife and my mother both repeatedly told me that my new avatar was a terrible picture, and didn't look like me. I didn't get around to changing it though.

So this week Alex was kind enough to draw a picture of Raena and I as a tribute to our joint blog, 2'nfro. The only thing was that he used that very bad photo (which was about, what 1/2" x 1/2"?). He did an excellent drawing of a horrible photo. You can see it here.

Serves me right.

Then my wife told me that his drawing looked just like me! You figure it out.

So it is time to change the avatar. This time I chose a picture that looks better than I probably look 90% of the time. This is, I suppose, how it should be for THE INCARNATION OF A GOD anyway. I was very relaxed when the picture was taken, on vacation out of state, and watching my oldest son, Ian, play guitar.

But enough about me..

The first step, so to speak, in the Everyday Matters challenges is to "Draw a Shoe". One day when I was feeling frustrated I decided to start with number 1 of the EDM challenges by drawing my wife's boots, and work forward; but although you could say I have discipline of a kind, it is not that kind. Drawing pictures in order just "ain't my thing."

So I let the ink drawing of the boots lie for a while, and this week I colored it. It is at the very top of this post. I decided to experiment with the background, with colors and "technique" - there is wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, drybrush, glazing, scraping, scrubbing, I used sandpaper on one part, and Mr. Clean Magic eraser on another, and lord knows what else. If anyone has ever told you that dark watercolor colors cannot be erased (or at least lightened substantially), they haven't tried Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (which must be used gingerly or the paper will be destroyed.) I got this tip from David Lobenberg, an excellent artist, whose blog is here, and who was kind enough to e-mail me when I asked how he made a sizeable dark portion of a rather large watercolor literally disappear! I didn't use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to erase, but rather to lighten a dark that was too prominent. It did leave a sort of soft penumbra though where I did it.

I got tired of all of the squares, and introduced a diagonal. Boredom helps sometimes, but sometimes it does not. I'll let you decide whether it did in this instance. One option would be to trim this picture down to eliminate the diagonal (see on the right). The boots would become more centered, but then the picture would be an irregular size, and I try to avoid that. The background would be more uniform. Which do you like better? Why?

I know which I like better. The cartoon avatar.



  1. Well, my goodness - so many questions! I think I like the one with the diagonal, and I really like all the different textures and colors in the squares. I think you're a cutie, no matter which avatar you choose! (Tell your wife not to worry ... I'm a grandmother... lol). nancy

  2. Hmm, I like the one without the diagonal! It grabs for attention and is didtracting to me although I must say I am distracted way too easily. I like the new pic and it's fun to see how everyone really looks (which means I need to update mine as the gray hair has replaced my brown) but I enjoy the cartoon. Why don't you leave the avatar as is and put your cartoon as the top item on your sidebar?

  3. I guess I have to thank Alex for getting you to reveal the real Dan. Love the new picture (and didn't you know most of us who post any kind of real pic choose the ones we look best in...duh!)
    The boots are great on their own and better with all the interesting color. I definitely vote for the diagonal line. First, the proportions of the shoe to background let the boots breath, but also, that darn line adds mystery. (Like wondering why it's there, where it leads, what it's attached to). Great job!

  4. I prefer the one with the diagonal. Is that the right answer or the wrong one?
    Well, about your photo...gadzooks, man..these two photos don't even look like the same guy!!! lol lol. Perhaps you are like me..I either take a very good photo or a really really bad one...there never seems to be any in-between. Well, perhaps my avatar is the only in-between photo I have ever doesn't seem outstanding, but it isn't awful. I keep meaning to change mine too, because it's kind of old.
    I agree with your wife and Mom...ditch that phone photo! LOL
    (I like the new one). Interesting info on the Mr. Clean thing. I'll try it.

  5. i'll side with freebird. i find the diagonal a little distracting. my eyes are constantly drawn up to that corner away from the funky boots. But I do like the whole patterned background. It makes it more than just a casual sketch - more like a finished piece. lovely colour harmonies.

  6. I always liked your cartoon avatar, not that your new photo isn't good, it's much better than the cell phone one!
    The boots are great but I was drawn to the background as soon as I saw it (I love the colours and patterns). The version without the diagonal slightly does more for the boots making them the centre of interest.

  7. Yep! Definitely a better picture there. ^^ Sorry for the crisis, I caused... sorry that I actually like what I had caused. =) NOW we know how you look like Dan, glad that your hiding days are over.
    The shoes are awesome by the way, so is your son's Epiphone guitar. ^^

  8. I think they are all great pircures, but I know how you feel about this whole issue (I used a few different pictures for my self, including a paint blob... dont ask)... I like your boot painting, but like some here Im also too easily distracted and I find some of the back ground kind of pulled my eyes away from the boots (love the texture and highlights of them them)... I like the second picture better it brings those fantastic boots out more... Oh I hope I make sense, Im kind of light headed today and full of cold meds...

    Great picture of you : )

  9. I really like your new picture although the sketch was so unique. I only have one boot picture showing (no diagonal) and it look great. How many kids do you have?

  10. I like all of the pictures because they show different sides of you. No one picture does it completely. So I like them all.
    I love the painting! So much more daring than you usually get. So much color (you know me and color). Great background and great boots! Great job!
    I have never heard of the Mr. Clean eraser working on paintings! Woohoo! I will buy one today.

  11. I liked the cartoon avatar (and I thought they were photo IDs until a few weeks ago) because it seems to embody your view of life. However, with each new photo, you get younger looking.

    I like the boots sans diagonal.

  12. I like the one with the diagonal best. It asks more questions. Your new photo is nice but I liked the others just fine too. Notice you don't see a photo of me on my blog :-)

  13. You always include such great things in your posts! From the top, your wife and mother are right- your new avatar is better. You look like the guy that we, your readers, already know: fun, open, and relaxed. Your cartoon avatar was great too and very individual. Your cell phone avatar was friendly and unassuming and I think it's very cool that you did that for your fans.
    Your son is a cutie too, although I've been told that young men don't like to be called "cutie". What can I say? I'm from a different generation.

    Your boot painting is great, I love the colors and the story of how you completed it. I like the diagonal because it makes the whole composition more interesting. Suddenly, the boots have a story. And I agree that going in order just isn't your thing. Embrace that!

    Great post as always Dan.

  14. I'm dropping in here a little quicker than usual because so far it's diagonal - 5, without diagonal - 5. You all are no help at all!!

    freebird - Great suggestion! I'll think about it.

    Celeste - The truth probably lies in between, for sure.

    Meegan and Cathy - Thank you for liking my colors and patterns. Figure if the economy gets bad enough, I can be a designer of wrapping paper!

    Alex - He's moved up in the world since the photo - he has a Taylor now. ooohh. (I love that instrument). I will forgive you - someday.

    Mari - I intended for the background to be softer, and it got away from me. Then I was going to try to lighten the whole thing but I decided to keep it as it is for good or for ill. I am stuck in the middle values. Next time. Feel better..

    Sandra - I have two boys: Ian, 21 and Matthew, 15.

    Ellen - Thank you for calling me daring - you made my day!!

    Hallie - What I have done is I have lined all my photos in a row, chronologically, and I am working forward to my infancy. This one was taken in 2008. Maybe I shouldn't have chosen this one. I know I wear my glasses more, and there's a bit more gray at the temples (but I try not to look).

    Ann - You mean that's not you?

    Pamo - Thank you, your comments are always meaningful to me.

    And anyone else that wants to comment - please do! We ain't done yet. I need more votes!

  15. With the yellow band on your son's arm I'm assuming you were relaxing after a day at a theme park or a night at a concert. Either way, it IS a great photo of you. I did something similar when I first 'joined' the web world. I hid behind a mask (literally) for my avatar for almost two years. Then I decided to come out from behind the mask - partially, anyway.

    I like the painting without the diagonal better. I like the idea of the diagonal for a compositional element, but I'm not a fan of the fact that its color and texture are so different from everything else. I find it more distracting than supportive.


  16. I like the diagonal... and the original cartoon you avatar... Can't deny your son, looks just like you. Handsome, you are both handsome and friendly looking.... I change my avatar with the seasons... so there's no need to have just one.... you're an artist you're allowed :-)

  17. What is this going in order thing you speak of?

    Love the shoes, and the background. I didn't even notice the diagonal until you mentioned it, which means it was probably working just fine, compositionally.

    Love the cartoon avatar!

  18. Well I lost count in there somewhere, but I am a "for the diagonal" . . . I hope that doesn't produce another tie vote! The painting is awesome either way, but I love the richness of the uncropped version, and the diagonal doesn't distract. In my opinion :-)

    I think it's fun seeing all these different sides of you. I love the perkiness of the "cartoon," the friendly you of the cell phone photo, and the "chill" you of this latest iteration! All good!!

  19. I've always liked your initial avatar - it's got great personality (like you) although I appreciate knowing how you look (you and your son are very handsome!). But, either way is fine with me. I love your rendering of the boots and the patchwork background. However, I don't like the vertical split in the middle. By putting the a centered vertical seam between the boots and the squares you've effectively created two discrete paintings that are coincidentally joined. There needs to be a stronger transition - something that connects one boot to the other. My two cents :-)

  20. New avatar looks great and as Pamo said seems like the person we know from your writing. If you like the cartoon though, why don't you go back to it?

    Without diagonal for me. Sorry. Great boots.

  21. I'm with the no diagonal votes, great boots and background. New photo is great too but in my mind you are forever your cartoon avatar

  22. OMG!!! It's an exact tie on the diagonals!! In politics that's a bad thing, I suppose; but in art, it is all good! We all have different visions and how to use them. And that is what makes art so special.

    Wonderfully astute comments by Don and Kathy - thank you so much! I never asked a questions before and your comments were so valuable: Don about the color and texture of the diagonal, and Kathy about the split canvas - wow - I never thought of that! Excellent information and that I will keep in mind in the future, as I stuff this one in the drawer.

    I pushed a lot of buttons last night on google and blogger - I don't even know what avatar I have now. But it doesn't matter much, I see. Thank you all. You are the best.

  23. OOooh...I get to be the tie breaker!! My vote is the one without the diagonal! Simply because I think it takes away from the subject of the painting, and like Don said, it isn't quite the right color to make it work. Love that background though!

    And excellent new avatar! Your humor really shines in this one! As for the previous one, it gave me a little chuckle when I first saw it because it reminds me of Henry Winkler! I said to my mom...he looks like the Fonz! I knew he was cool!

  24. Just went back and read through Kathy's comment....excellent! I learn so much sometimes just through reading what people say!