My final drawing assignment was a giant self-portrait. 18 x 24-inch. Really, really big. I can’t believe my first semester of art school is already over. Like everything wonderful in life, it sped by like a snap of the fingers.

In our last class we sat around and ate delicious Pad Thai as we discussed our own and each others’ work.

Drawing I class. University of Southern Maine

We also had GráKake, a snack that was invented by our professor Michael Shaughnessy. Grá is Irish for love and Kake is Norwegian for cake. “They’re a hearty, healthy, savory item — no wheat, no sweet and no meat,” he says. “I invented them out of the long journey around the country with the *big ball of hay on my car, needing something that was highly portable that I could eat that was healthy, and these seemed to fit the bill.”

Michael Shaughnessy grilling GráKakes

Michael grilling GráKakes

I feel especially nostalgic about this class ending. I think it’s because from day one we had to draw each other and so, I got to know many of the other students fairly well. At first it was contour drawings. You try to draw without looking at the paper.

Contour drawing mylatestart

Later we took turns sitting for portraits. I was pretty apprehensive at first, but decided to just relax and not care about having my face scrutinized so carefully. Besides, I would quickly drop into a zone where there are no eyes and noses or even wrinkles and sagging jawline. There are only interesting shapes and shadows, curves and turns.

Portrait for drawing class mylatestart

I like drawing a lot. I had intended to major in painting, but have decided to concentrate on both drawing and painting. During break, which goes until mid-January, I plan to practice drawing following the schedule in Kimon Nicolaides book The Natural Way to Draw. I’ll share my progress in the blog and I’ll also be writing a profile or two on local artists, starting with Michael Shaughnessy. When he’s not teaching, he’s an installation artist who mostly works with hay. His pieces are amazing. I think we’re going to ride around Portland with that *big ball of hay he mentioned earlier in the post. We’ll see what happens.

Hay Ball by Michael Shaughnessy

Hay Ball by Michael Shaughnessy

Now for the unveiling of my self-portrait. I worked long and hard on it and I’m anxious to know what you think. As the title suggests, I took a few liberties — because I could!  But let me just say, this new adventure, even with the stress of juggling work, school and life, is even more rejuvenating than a tightened up neck and jawline! I recommend it highly.

Diane Atwood self-portrait December, 2014

Diane Atwood self-portrait December, 2014

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!


Solange Kellerman · December 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

very intense! I like the way you got textures down – the hair, the sweater – nice. You do highlights well, too.

    Fred Cronin · December 26, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Absolutely beautiful self-portrait, Diane!

      dianeatwood · December 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks Fred — years ago I never would have dreamed that I could draw.

    dianeatwood · December 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks Solange — I tried! Will you be taking any classes next semester?

Charity · December 24, 2013 at 9:34 am

Really, really lovely, Diane! You are a natural artist. Can’t wait to see more!

    dianeatwood · December 26, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks Charity. I’ve been learning lots of important information, e.g., when you really look into an eye there are lots and lots more shapes than you might expect.

Roxanne · December 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm

The drawing and the subject are both beautiful, Diane!

    dianeatwood · December 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I love you Roxanne.

Wendy Newbold Patterson · December 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Good Job, Diane! I see you in there. . . It makes me want to make you blink . . BOO!!!
Keep working. If you are interested in more about drawing, I’d recommend the book, “The Language of Drawing” by Edward Hill. Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1964.
Happy New Year!

    dianeatwood · December 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks Wendy. In reality I do poorly in staring contests — I always blink first. I’ll look for the book.

Mary Jane Peaco · December 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I just have to say there is a great resemblance to Susan Sarandon and Ms. Sarandon is a lucky lady! Hopefully she is half as nice as Diane. Keep on drawing.

Mary Springer · February 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Beautiful job Diane. You are very talented!

    dianeatwood · February 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I believe talent runs in the family, my dear sister.

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