“Faces: My Perception Of Emotion As An Autistic Artist” is a portraiture-study of emotion in which I explore my visual interpretation of other’s facial expressions digitally and through journaling my feelings on the process. Meant to be an imaginative exploration in the power of emotion in all of its visual representations, this project plumbs my varying degrees of ability to recognize all that’s inherent in the human visage and my discomfort at confronting this power. I expect many interesting surprises along the way and have already experienced personal growth with the portraiture and journaling I’ve already done. In essence this project is all about interacting with others through exploring my perceptions of their facial expressions while facing my perceptual deficits and sensitivities head-on.
The concept for this project materialized while painting selfies of my Facebook friends on the iPad. In the past two months I’ve been experimenting with a new app called Sketches” and have to say I am extremely pleased with it because it simulates many of the painting and drawing tools I used to create my non-digital art. With the illumination of the iPad screen, I can see colors better than without it, and so my use of color has improved. Digitally, I can also see nuances in faces that I can’t necessarily process when I’m having to look at a person in front of me, which helps to break free from a major creative restriction.
These portraits examine an array of emotion and help me with face-reading. Autistically-speaking, visually processing a person’s face has got to be the most psychedelic yet frightening aspect of communication. The human visage has always been enigmatic, meaning that the entirety of the face’s parts contain so much mystery and meaning often difficult to decipher. There are times when the process grates against me, feeling intimidating and confrontational. I noticed that these Facebook selfies aren’t as threatening and typically not as complicated because there’s usually some sort of explanatory comment. The candor of Facebook makes it fairly easy to know how people feel.
This project is meant as a large-scale work of art composed of over 50 individual portrait prints seamlessly positioned side-to-side. Right now, I’m in the beginning stages, and while I’ve only completed 12 portraits at present, I hope to be finished come June, 2017. I’m journaling throughout the process so that I can look back on my thoughts and feelings after having completed each daily set, usually 2 to 3 portraits. When I’m finished with the faces, I’ll begin to categorize them based on the various emotional states people can have. I’ll place the selfies in the categories I think they go in, and then I can compare the results with my journals. Because of the amount of journaling and self-awareness that goes into this body of work, “Faces”? is also study in autistic psychology and the science of perception.
I’d love for this project to evolve into a quality art book.
In search of:
Interesting emotional selfies or photographs. Not your grandma’s prim and proper duck-faced selfies. I need faces in shock, surprise, anger, rage, irritation, sadness, contentment, jealousy, critical, excited, elated, proud, teasing, annoying, silly, enjoyment, or others I haven’t mentioned (but no orgasmic, please). Those lucky chosen selfies will receive a digital copy (jpeg) of their painted portrait. All selfies need to be in by May 15th.
Please send selfies to
Sort of relevant info: Artist and advocate, Judy Endow illustrates her autistic perspective through paintings. Watch the clip HERE .
I’m an autistic writer, philosopher, artist, spouse, and parent who home-educates my three neurodiverse children. I’ve taken up blogging and begun to express my thoughts and feelings about autism, mental health, gender, chronic pain, chronic illness, disability, and civil rights in visuals and writing. My calling is to not only give my children the best of myself so they can grow up to be confident, caring, and empowered adults, but to be an artist advocate and story teller, flowering forth work that represents and/or supports the diversity of life experiences of those of us in the IDD community. Along my journey, I hope to reach other Autistic parents with my blog, "Freeing My Heart: An Autistic Parent & More"