The Daily Portrait Series by Jay Ferranti resulted from a vow to create a new portrait every day for a year. Nearly all of the portraits were created using the Apple iPad, some with the iPhone. All are digital originals created at print resolution, but are not paintings. The best of these may become paintings in time, but these are meant to be displayed as prints or electronically.
Some involved drawing on paper, and employed found sources for texture.In some of the early portraits I experimented with collaging old photos and textures from public domain image websites. Later, I tried to keep it purely digital.
I have tended to use Sketchbook Pro as the primary app for drawing and digital painting. In one instance, Photoshop was used to create an effect I could not easily create with the other apps at the time.
All but two of the portraits were spontaneous improvisation without reference to source material. I was asked to create one portrait as a gift for a friend’s 90th birthday, and later, I decided the best way to end the series was a self portrait. One other image was based on a visible subject, although meant to invoke rather than report its appearance: my tribute group portrait of the cast of Breaking Bad, celebrating the finale of the series.
This series began spontaneously the day my father had to move from his home into long term care for his declining mental function. My sister, Sharon Ferranti, and I, had been through the ordeal of Dad’s decline for about a year and a half before that. Seeing my dad change so much in a short time depressed me. But some sturdy part of my core knew how to take care of itself — I spontaneously returned to drawing without thinking about it. I posted the first portrait to my Facebook account and my friends liked it … that made me feel a little bit happier. I had made something positive from the problems we were facing in life, and it didn’t cost anything, nor did it involve the physical labor of art production. I had no stomach for dealing with the mess and clean-up of real paint. So I decided to make one digital portrait every day for a year, and I made that vow in public.
It was a bigger challenge than I had anticipated. As I developed technical skill and the images became complex, I soon found myself following my own tough act, every day. I wanted them all to be fresh, never a repeat or similar similar to the day before, but not so different that they didn’t belong in the group as a whole. I wanted my friends to look forward to the drawings and to be surprised by them. I also wanted to grow as much as possible artistically. Within the series I found myself following several tracks simultaneously, as I have always needed to do in painting to keep it interesting for myself.
At one point, around December, I thought I had no more to give, and wanted to take a break. I almost did. But I had come so far that I pushed through that and experienced no more occurrences of mental fatigue. I worked through physical fatigue many times. Some nights I was far too tired to be working, and regret a few of the choices I made in the images I produced. But more importantly, I found happiness every time I made a drawing I liked, and I did not publish anything that, at the time, I did not like. That little bit of joy I felt from making the first portrait was just as strong in most of the subsequent drawings. Sometimes it was a struggle to make something good enough to post, but later I noticed that the drawings that gave me the most trouble turned out to be the strongest pieces in the series.
In hindsight I see the series as one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I sacrificed much during the process, things that are also important to living a happy life. Having to perform any difficult task day after day without breaks isn’t something I could recommend to anyone as a permanent way of life, but it was the perfect challenge for myself during an extremely difficult period.
I’m currently developing a different series of drawings, but using ink on paper. Some of these will be posted soon.