Making of: Self-Portrait Painting & Custom Frame


Have you ever pulled over the side of the road to hear a song again from the beginning, or seen a painting that just seemed impossible? How does this beautiful thing exist? How does a person decide, day after day, to build their life around making such a thing happen?

TEMPLE OF ART is a documentary film, a book project and a unique collaboration between over 50 artists and photographer Allan Amato. Being asked to participate (thank you Marc Scheff) was one of those moments of realization that an amazing opportunity has just materialized and there is absolutely not enough time to do it justice… It’s been a challenging and fun ride. Check out everyone’s inspiring work at

The Brushes

Painting a self-portrait stimulates introspection. Thinking about the past 10 years of my life I remembered teachers, mentors, and friends that have helped me on my path and shaped my life. This sparked a desire to include some symbol of their work in mine. The time crunch created just enough pressure in myself to get over my fear of rejection and I sent twelve last-minute letters of request. Amazingly, every one of these wonderful people not only responded in time but found at least two (and as many as thirty) used brushes and got them to the post office. Here are a few shots of the brushes and the process of labeling them. (Thank you, Zaida Adriana.)

The Frame

A few months before this came along, my friend Patrick Devonas had gifted me a beautiful solid panel of “Arve”, a wood that grows extremely slowly, is very durable and beautiful to work with. It also has a particularly soothing smell – so much so that many older houses in Switzerland have what is called an “Arvezimmer”, a room where everything is made from this wood. The carving process was pure improvisation and my favorite part of this project. A final coat of raw umber and black and a rub with a waxy rag brought it to life.

The Painting

Making the painting itself was an emotional roller-coaster ride. The little characters emerged from a few furious brush strokes and I had to fight all the mental chatter about what they might mean, what people might think. “Shut up and paint.”

Here are a few detail shots followed by the final painting and Allan’s photograph.

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