This oil painting was created during my last year of college for my Expressive Drawing class. It was a Self Portrait assignment, but we couldn’t draw our face, it had to be expressive. I was pretty stumped and not really inspired by anything specific.
At the time, I loved the Scuola Metafisica art movement, specifically the work of Giorgio de Chirico. His paintings had an unsettling and disquieting feeling that I really liked. And I was drawn to the weird scenes he painted that usually featured Roman statues, long shadows, mannequins, trains, and illogical perspectives. So, I decided to be inspired by that style in my painting.
Mario and the Pizza
I love video games, especially the Mario games. I’ve been playing them forever and, like Mario, I love Italian food, my favorite being pizza. That’s why he’s standing there eye ballin’ that supreme pizza. Since the Metafisica movement was inspired by Surrealism, I made sure to add surrealist elements. I’m sure you’re familiar with Dali’s painting, The Persistence of Time. I painted my pizza like Dali painted those melting clocks.
The Mad Hatter Hat
The Mad Hatter hat was added because artists are a little mad. It’s hard to be an artist, and it just drives me crazy sometimes. Plus, I like Alice in Wonderland and was always inspired by Disney. I also love a good imaginative story. She goes on this crazy trip following that rabbit down the hole and I have such a strong imagination and love the crazy places life takes me. So, I thought the hat was able to represent all of those things.
Martini Glass and Fish
The martini glass was added because my senior year in high school, I joined this forum called the-spot.net, which was created by a guy named Neo, and he and a group of people all were members of this forum and got together regularly to play video games together. (A Lan Party.)
I made a username that incorporated the word martini and I still use the username today, and a lot of people came to identify me by it. I’m not a drinker, but I liked my avatar and the name. So, that’s why I added that. The fish are both a shoutout to the fish in Mario games and Surrealism because it’s strange to see creepy fish swimming in a drinking glass
Black and White Tiles and Long Shadows
You can see in the de Chirico painting that it has a checkered floor. I always liked those floors and I like black and white, both visually and conceptually. I think there’s a lot of gray area in life, but I also see the extremes in life.
And you can see the long shadows created by the tall art tools I placed in the scene. De Chirico used long shadows and tall pillars, which you can see in the paintings above.
I like painting, but I’m not much of a painter. I’ve created a few paintings both in acrylic and oil, but I was never actually trained in it. My favorite art tools are colored pencils and markers. Mainly Prismacolor. So, that’s why I added a colored pencil, a marker, and a paintbrush.
I love music so much and I have a very diverse taste. I like it all. I also played clarinet in school. Since music is such a big part of my life, I had to include it. I also wanted to make the music staff look a little like the smoke that comes from a train. I didn’t actually add a train, but de Chirico often did.
Balloon Clock and The Background
I can’t remember why I added the balloon clock. Maybe I thought time was just floating away??? I dunno. Looks like the time is 2:45. I think maybe that’s the time my art class was. And I think It’s also supposed to be the sun.
The background represents the Mojave Desert in Southern California where I grew up. I’m a proud Texan, but deep down, there will always be apart of me that is a California girl. I loved the mountains and the Joshua trees and my childhood was so happy and sunny and it’s a big part of who I am.
I added the “Tunnel” on the left to mimic the tunnel colonnades that you see in so many de Chirico paintings. I was so close to graduation and I was so burned out and just ready to be done with college already. Also, remember de Chirico often painted trains. So, it was supposed to represent “The Light at the End of the Tunnel.”
The letters SFA are the name of my university and purple and white are the school colors. And inside is a painting of trees, “The Pineywoods,” which is where Nacogdoches and SFA are located.
It’s hard to see but hanging above SFA is a rearview mirror air freshener of a finger flipping you off. I drove a 1966 Mustang and I had that finger hanging from the mirror for so many years. I loved “flipping people off” without actually flipping them off. And a lot of people associated it with me. Plus, I was flipping off college because I was so ready to be done.
I actually don’t remember my exact reason for adding the sword. I collect weapons. I have a whole bunch of cool knives and weapons that are hidden and don’t actually look like weapons. So, I’m guessing the cool sword with jewels is meant to represent my love of weapons. I also didn’t put a shadow coming from the sword, which I did on purpose to give off the feeling that there’s something not right about it.
The Mysterious Blurred Paint
Now, you might be wondering why the paint has been smeared all over the canvass. It’s actually quite a story for me and I hope you stick through ’till the end and read the whole story.
My Mustang was breaking down a lot so my dad got me this ugly brown Lincoln Town car as a backup. It was so raggedy! I wont even list all the problems it had, but it did at least get me where I needed to go. The door panel on the passenger side was broken and made it really hard to open. And the doors wouldn’t lock.
Well, I was exhausted and stressed out. I had a week or two left before I graduated and I was finishing up final projects for my classes. One rushed morning, I left my laptop on the floorboard in the front seat. The windows were tinted but I guess you could still see inside if you pressed your face against the window.
I have no idea who would look at that ugly car and think, “Hey, there’s gotta be something in there I want.” But somebody did.
I had a class, and when it was over I walked back to my car and all I noticed was my painting in the front seat. It was done in oil and it was still wet and it was due that day. Then I noticed that my passenger door wasn’t all the way closed. I was so upset about my painting that was due in an hour that I didn’t even realize my laptop was missing.
I contacted campus police to tell them someone broke in but I ended up, stupidly, telling them nothing was stolen.
Later That Night
That night as I was getting ready to work on a project for another class, it hit me. MY LAPTOP! It was in my car and it was stolen! I couldn’t believe it. My whole life was on that thing. Now, that laptop was just as raggedy as that car. I had it since Freshman year. And it had so many problems. One problem was it didn’t like to turn on when I pressed the power button. I had to balance it on my knee and push the button three times, then the 4th time I had to balance it on a stack of books and sneak out of the room, then hopefully when I came back it was turned on.
Ok, I don’t know if I had to do that, but it seemed to work. That laptop got on my nerves but I think it’s quirkiness is what saved me. I went to class and explained everything to my professors. They all understood but unfortunately, I wasn’t going to get a grade for the assignments still due. I moped around for a day until . . .
The Phone Call
The next day I got a call from some church on campus. It was a church that was right down the road from the parking lot my car was broken into. They were looking for me so that they could return my laptop to me. They said they found it in the backyard of their church. The bag was open and some papers were strewn about but the laptop was in there. They managed to turn it on and find my contact information. I wondered if God let them in on the trick on how to turn it on.
I ran up there and got my laptop back. I couldn’t believe it. I guess the thief tried to turn it on, but didn’t know the trick, and decided it was a piece of crap and just dropped it. My painting was smeared and I didn’t even get any feedback in class from the other students and I was feeling down about all that. But at least I got my laptop back and I was able to tell everyone the miraculous story the next day. Plus, I was able to turn in my assignments.
The Moral of the Story
Don’t leave your laptop in your car where people can see it! Just kidding, I don’t think there’s a moral of the story. I just think it’s pretty cool that I got my laptop back and I think the smeared paint adds character to the painting. I think it maybe even makes the painting better.
And it also adds to the self portrait. Even when something bad happens in my life, God always makes it turn out for the better for me. I learn something. Or a I grow. Or it ended up being exactly the way it needed to be.
If you read through to the end, thanks for reading the whole story.