2,996

2,996 lives were lost on September 11, 2001 as a result of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. This painting seeks to provide a visual representation of those lives lost, as the human mind is notoriously bad at visualizing large numbers. Each of the figures was painted individually, each represents a life. It is hard to imagine still the sum of the grief experienced by those left behind. 2,996 individuals tied to dozens of friends and family members, many of whom I am sure suffer to this day.

I tried to capture the idea of the clear blue sky that was marred by clouds of smoke and billowing dust as the buildings collapsed. The images of rebar and fragments of building stand out in my mind as crews searched the rubble for survivors. The figure in the center deliberately resembles a superhero…I think the idea of a superhero coming to save the day died for a lot of people back then. Yet at the same time, many heroes arose as a result of these tragic events.

Self-portrait woes

I am notoriously bad at self-portraits. I’m just not good at making faces look like the person they are supposed to be. I’ve learned to look at my various attempts as “interpretations” of myself, such as this one from when I was 16 and a smoker:

I deliberately kept it vague so it was more of a representation of me. Then there was the honest attempt I made when I was in an art class at 23:

Which I like even less. You can see I tried, but I was so focused on getting the individual features right that the whole face turned out distorted.

But of course, it’s time to try again. This is my latest attempt, although at 27 I made myself look 40. That’s ok. Sometimes I feel 40 but without the advantage that another 13 years of experiences would bring me.

I had an art teacher once tell me I should steer away from color paintings until I had a better understanding of how to use them. I still don’t understand, and I often have anxiety once the colors start hitting the page. But I like the way this one turned out, at least up close.

Does it look like me? I guess you’ll never know. But the answer is no, not really.

Celestial Bodies

This is a painting I did a while ago and recently updated. The original was a spray painted design that was meant to be abstract and reminiscent of outer space. Recently I decided that I hated it. It was the start of something I never finished.

The updated version is a little better, but now it contains ghostly figures rising. Where are they going? That’s a good question. Maybe nowhere. But at least they appear to be moving, and that’s a start. Now instead of a page I’d say I have a chapter…someday I’ll finish the book.

Redemption

This painting started out as a bland, fearful attempt to be creative. I painted it over ten years ago, and I recall even after I finished feeling like what was the point of that?

I was anxious and I was always trying too hard to be something. Anything. Instead of just allowing myself to be. I was always focused on the end result instead of just enjoying the process. This sad canvas board is a snapshot in time of that artificial lifestyle.

I recently updated it, mainly so I do not have to look at it anymore. It’s funny how rusty my painting skills are, and the end result is something I once would have beat myself up for. But this time at least I know it was painted more honestly and with less fear. So that’s something.