painting faces

30 faces in 30 days – how far would you push yourself?


I always wanted to do a challenge like that, since I have noticed them running online for the last few years, ran by different artists each time, but I just couldn’t get to it. So when Galia wrote to me directly and offered to host it together, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew it would NOT be a challenge to me, I paint every day anyway, so how hard could it be – I thought? And it probably would have become a lovely breather, have I not gotten very ill from about 10th of April. It turned out I had a chronic labyrinthitis for the last 7 years (recurring inflammation of the 8th cranial nerve in the inner ear, by a virus). This time it hit me hard. I was dizzy 24/7, riddled with anxiety and occasional panic attacks. It took me several appointments with the doctors up until 28th of April to figure out what was wrong with me. And I had to paint a face a day.

I didn’t have to, but I it also turned out that I hate to give up, even if I lost my last bit of health and sanity. The discovery made me feel very bad about myself. I know many people would be proud to tell of themselves, that they won’t give up a challenge, but I wasn’t. It’s not that I won’t give up the challenge, I COULD NOT give up the challenge. Nothing would stop me from completing it. Expect perhaps death. Fortunately it didn’t come to it. I tried to juggle 4 year old demanding little girl, and family life, household routines and numerous visits to doctors, painting 3 paintings for upcoming art collective auction (on top of other 30), and filming 6 art videos for other people’s workshops that I have had commitments to. I didn’t want to drop a single thing. In a mean time Galia’s beloved cat died in mid April and she slowed down completing her own challenge. I envied her. Why can she just let go and I cannot? What is wrong with me? I kept asking myself this and sometimes thought that among all the appointments I should schedule psychiatrist as well.

I think my main problem was being the instigator of the challenge. Commitment can become a terrible thing, that just eats you up alive. If I was just a member of our group of 200 I would have just left it. But I felt like a circus juggler in a middle of stage in a middle of performance, I imagined the audience just waited for the next painted face to appear. Reasonable part of me knew that it’s just an illusion, that everyone in the group were just focused on themselves and their own challenge, instead of sitting a waiting for my face to appear, as if I was the only source of inspiration. My inability to self-regulate in a situation like that shook me to the core. I also realized that I would have recovered the virus much faster, have I not had so much stress accompany it.

Below are my 30 faces. Will I do it again? Probably not. I will not presume that I will not get ill, or I won’t get some family emergency. Because shit happens. Life happens. I have learned my lesson, and I will paint my 5 or 10 artworks a month. Stress free.

30AprilFacesC 30AprilFacesA 30AprilFacesB

Transforming few old artworks

Lately I've been digging out some old not very effective artworks and giving them new life. Here are 4 that I just finished and finally quite happy with. Sometimes revival of old proves to be wrong move, when people say that they love old version better, but important thing is that you as an artist happy with final result. Bottom line is: we are not making art to please others, unless it's commissioned work. This one is acrylic on canvas, painted with a small palette knife, but I redone her with brush and more fresh realistic skin tone. Values were also corrected which I think made it more effective. "Listener":


She used to be a simple monoprint in oils, so I gave her a couple of fresh oil layers. "She spoke the truth":


Update in oils. "On the road you warned me about, I go with wavering heart":



Below work was done on 2006, 9 years ago, I used to live in Micronesian islands then, and photographed this native girl somewhere on the road. It might have been my first ever attempt to paint a face, after years of still life, flowers and journaling. So, yea, she was flat and uninteresting and collected dust in my studio ever since. I was not happy with the artwork, but could not give up on it and dragged her all the way from Micronesia to South Africa (24'X30'):


So I gave her a fresh new life and named her "Spring". I painted her face, then Tallulah joined me and helped me to collage lives and paint the tree. Tallulah's free and fearless influence is obvious here and I enjoyed her fresh approach. It is now framed and gracing a wall in Tallulah's blue bedroom. Our first collaboration: