Faces of my subconscious

The ceiling above my bed is sponge-painted. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I turn on my bedside lamp and find all the faces and animals in the unintentional markings. This sort of thing happens to me a lot – finding the representational in the unrepresentational. It’s an interesting feeling when it happens; it can stick with me a surprisingly long time, strange considering most of the time it happens in a split second while driving or walking.

Three days ago I started a new project where I make lines on a piece of paper and then find features in the lines and begin to elaborate on them. I’ve discovered I can’t do more than one in a single day, otherwise I see the same thing in the lines. Some of the faces will probably be more cartoon-like, while some of them may be really realistic. It just depends how familiar the marks on the paper become. It also depends on how much I am able to turn my mind off and just draw – when I over-think it, it turns to mush.

Here are two of the four I’ve made so far. The other two are terrible, but these are a step in the right direction. You can see some of the original line work in places.

19 thoughts on “Faces of my subconscious

  1. i love your new project. i want to see the other two. you never know, maybe they are the true direction you should go for 😉

  2. Now this is interesting, great project, and man, can you draw! Those faces are filled with such expressive emotion…Are they based on people you know, or might have come across, or are they purely made in the subconscious? They intrigue me…And I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them.

    1. Thanks a lot! [Warning: pretentious mumbo-jumbo incoming] When I do them right, they are absolutely from my subconscious – which I’m sure is full of images of people I’ve met, and people I love and hate, as well as elements of myself, and then a little bit of those characters I harbor in my dreams. Hopefully it becomes a frequent exercise, since a single drawing doesn’t take me more than an hour to finish (so far).

  3. James, this is so cool. You are a talented artist.
    What a fascinating project, it reminds me a bit of the idea of remote viewing. I’ve heard of a similar technique with writing, where you just start writing words without any plan or thought, and if you can get the technique right, you start to tap into the subconscious mind.
    PS …I’m with Fiona.q – I so want to see the “rejects”!

    1. Thank you very much Malcolm. Interesting perspective, thanks for the information.
      Ha! I wish you both would take me at my word that they’re not worth seeing. Maybe when I feel like the project is reaching its end, I’ll go through and grab some of the ones I never finished to post on here.

  4. I love your portraits!

    (I have a chesnut beam that runs across the celing of my bedroom, not as grand as it sounds, and I pick out animals in it when I cannot sleep. For some reason most of them seem to be birds, but I have a man on a sledge being pulled by two crocodiles too.)

    1. Thank you very much. Glad to make the acquaintance of someone with as strange and vivid of an imagination as myself. However, your man on a sledge being pulled by two crocodiles trumps my cockatoo (that’s the most interesting thing I can remember finding).

  5. There is a lot of feeling in this art–beautiful art. When I draw I sometimes use somewhat the same technique. That’s why there is so much movement in what I do. Great post! Ethel Mortenson Davis

    1. While I respect people who can obscure their process by making a flawless drawing or painting, it’s way more interesting to be able to see the artist’s hand in what they do – especially because you can see a mood in it. Feels good to just let go, right? Thanks for the comment.

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