I’ve recently become a consistent visitor of the Art Prof’s social media spaces. This month she posted an “art dare” to her followers to create a drawing, without human faces, based off of the phrase “your future self.” Since I’m in a period where I’ve slowed down production and am focusing more on restructuring, I decided to join in on the art dare. Inspired by some feedback from a recent art critique and reading several of the Art Prof’s blog posts, I’ve been trying to readjust my approach by organizing my thoughts and ideas before beginning a new piece by starting off with a mind map. Here is a mind map of my future self for the art dare:

From there, I took a few points from the map to think of an image for the final drawing. Although I thought that all of the points in the map were authentic to me, what stuck out to me were the points about being old, sick and alone. When I think about whatever my future self might be, I don’t tend to dwell on overly fantasizing or romanticizing about it. Doing so seems like I’d be setting myself up for disappointment. Instead I tend to think more about what’s inevitable or most likely to happen. Death and deterioration, though a macabre train of thought, is what seems more real to me. Those are the only things that I know will happen as I get older, one or both of those things. I don’t know if I’ll be alone or singular when that happens, but it seems like a likely scenario because that’s where I stand right now in my life. That’s what’s real to me at the moment, so it’s not hard for me to imagine that in my future and I do not fear it. The examples of older people in my current immediate circle would have to be my parents. Though my mom and dad are in completely different circumstances, I think that I may be slightly more influenced by the hardships that my mom faces with her ailing body. I’ve seen what she goes through firsthand and I hear about details sometimes when we chat on the phone. Although she does have family members that live nearby to help her when she needs it, she mostly deals with it alone. She lives alone, and fiercely clings to her independence as her body slowly fails everyday at the hands of a debilitating disease. I bet most people assume that such a fate would never be placed on them, or at least they don’t think about it much. However I have an acute awareness of the fact that none of us are too special to be spared any unfortunate occurrence, so I’ve become quite comfortable with the thought of my body eventually breaking down in some way, even if it’s relatively mild. It’s hard to break myself away from that thought when I envision my “future self.”

This art dare was a challenge for me for two reasons: 1) I’m not always comfortable/confident with drawing, and 2) I couldn’t use any human faces. The second point was extremely difficult because the human figure is my favorite subject, portraits too. I feel a little bit crippled if I can’t incorporate it in some way. Well, I took it a step further and challenged myself to not use a human figure at all. What I came up with was this drawing:

“My Future Self”
White charcoal and Prismacolor pencils on black paper
by Traci L. Turner

I don’t know what it’s like for anyone else who lives alone, but for me I spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Besides the obvious functions and reasons, we associate the bathroom as being a very private space. Even though I live alone and have x amount of square footage to deal with myself, the bathroom is still where I go to be alone and internalize. I experience the most moments of self-examination in there. Perhaps it’s the mirror that does it, or the meditativeness of standing in the shower. With a bathroom as the scene to this piece, which in my mind depicts a certain solitude, what made the most sense to me as a way to show a living body in deterioration was to use blood. Hey, I’m only too happy to be able to find a way to incorporate blood into any of my pieces. It felt natural so I just went with it. Then of course I showed an abundance of medication which seems to be synonymous with getting old and sick. I really tried to consider composition with this drawing to set off a sort of eeriness to it. I wish that I was much better at drawing from my imagination, but either way I thought what I ended up with was still compelling enough. Considering that this is the first time I hopped onto an Instagram “art challenge,” I thought the experience was great. I enjoyed the task of being given an objective and a deadline and then be able to make something out of it that is meaningful to me. I also appreciated that I got to try out a new approach to creating a piece by starting off with the mind map. I think that I’m going to keep that up. Or try to.

Do you have an image in your mind of your “future self?” Where would you want to be? What do you fear about the near or far future in your lifetime? Please feel free to chime in in the comments.