In art school, there came a point (i don't know when) when I felt limited in my ability to express myself visually. I've always had alot on my mind, alot that I've wanted to express and I have never felt concise and confident in doing this verbally like most people. So I drew from the earliest age. Before I could write A-B-C, I was drawing monsters from my imagination. Getting back to art school, feeling limited in my technical abilities (color, line, value, etc), I put aside my ideas and worked feverishly on technique. Really trying to get a grasp on basics. Even as a senior, when classmates were creating stylish finished pieces in workshops with fancy brushstrokes, i was spending the entire time sight measuring with charcoal on paper, deepening basic seeing, drawing fundamentals. I wanted to work from life, and poses at school didn't go beyond 6 hours, so I used myself. I would set up a mirror at home, and spend 20, 30, 50+ hours sometimes on one piece. I can remember my apartment being covered with lifesize charcoal self portraits every inch of the walls. This I discovered, wasn not only a discipline to really develop drawing/painting skill, but also insight. Spending hours confronting myself in the mirror, I began to get more comfortable in seeing and exploring the inner self. Insight. I would begin to incorporate text into some of the portraits, like an open memoir and this would become an aesthetic that I would later use in my cultural portraits as well. This first attached example is experiencing with techique. The latter example is the combination of journal insight as well, as developing drawing ability. The painting was created in oil paint using several layers and glazing. I was in love with Rembrandt, and Odd Nerdrum, and would mimic the technique of putting opage layers on dry, transparent layers and scratch with a knife the wet surface and add glazing in the knived crevices once dry attempting to create the feeling of pourous skin. I haven't painted like this since! The drawing is more self explanatory, where I drew myself from life trying to draw every sublty whehter a pimple or tiny wrinkle and seeing these things as beauty to be captured, not insecurities that I was at times obsessed with. The writing was reflections on my final semester in school. And when I read it now, its embarassing. But one thing that hasnt changed is, I still see art as a practice of being vulnerable and putting ones self out there.