Self Distortraits

As I flip through my last few journals, I see that I am more and more drawn to drawing faces. Maybe that’s just a function of winter — when the weather is warm I can go out and plunk down on the sidewalk somewhere and draw landscapes, buildings, dogs being curbed. When the weather is inhospitable, I sit at my dining table and after I’ve drawn every object in the room, I flip through magazines and start drawing faces.

I tend to draw a lot of self-portraits — not become I am so fabulously handsome but because my face is always handy, right there, wrapped around my eyes. I’ve done hundreds, none of them even remotely alike. This winter, fiddling with my computer, I started taking distorted pictures of myself with my laptop’s built-in camera, then distorting them further with dip pens and brushes and sumi ink.

They’re part of my effort to do more than just draw exactly what I see but to add some feeling to the exercise. Of course, it’s impossible for me not to inject some subjectivity into any drawing. That’s enhanced when I keep it loose and free, the flaws enhancing my point of view.  But I find that when I start with something that’s unfamiliar, like the bulges and twists the computer puts into my face, I tend to pay more careful attention, take nothing for granted, create something that looks like a photo in the degree of detail; and yet feel free to push the lines further and add more sweeping grotesqueries.

I’m done with series for now as the sun has come out and my park beckons


  1. Chris

    LOVE this idea

    • DannyGregory

      Try some of your own, Chris!
      Your pal,
      Danny Gregory

  2. Nina

    whoa – these are some incredible mugs ;)

    I really enjoyed looking at them and trying to find what exactly makes is distinctively you – even after (or because of) distortion. There are only two that I think I would not recognize as you: the very first one and third from the end. Some trouble with the 4th form the end too – but the rest are completely fine to paste on your driving license! :)

    I've been doing two series of portraits lately – will post about them on EDM. You are right – something has happened to the pace of EDM – I am not even lurking as much as I used to…

  3. steve

    Nice job Danny! I tried this a couple of years back, using Photobooth, and I was in a bit of a dark mood (thanks to the crappy weather), only I used some calligraphy pens and further tweaked 'em (the actual drawings) in Photoshop. Still, I really love the dip and brush pen action going on here. This reminds me, I should break my dip pen out this summer – been years since I used one.

  4. Kia

    Interesting! I want to try it. Once a drawing teacher asked me whether I had models to draw and when I said 'not really', he replied to draw myself, every single day while in front of a mirror. After a research I came to know that he published a book full of his own self portraits…surely it's another good exercise!!

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