Thursday, October 30, 2014

Plague (Reprise)

This entry might come off as disgusting. Don't curr.

I'm writing this entry as a reprise, like they do in songs, because I was hesitant about writing this in the first entry. This is what I wanted to accompany "Plague" with, in my mind, these thoughts are what accompany "Plague".
They're thoughts that came during the making of the piece. Originally, I think I wanted to do the image, because I liked how my jawbone looked on the sides of my face in that specific position and top lit, maybe I'll remember what it was that I wanted to do from the beginning eventually.

So, I'm going to write out what I wrote in my journal and I'll add other things that I also didn't add into the journal entry as notes, either, 'cuz I thought those things would come off as even more disgusting.

Sometimes, I have the desire to burst and explode
Sometimes, feelings seem to be a substance or a being in their own right, they are trying to break free from my rib cage
I'm a big fan of singing and I have serious admiration for singers that I perceive sing sincerely
I find that singing perhaps is the most honest form of output, it seems somehow as the most direct and the most untarnished
You inhale air, it occupies your chest and you push it out through your vocal chords and nose and if you do it appropriately, it's your feelings that come out
So, as far as one putting out one's insides in the truest way, singing is a beautiful way of doing it
I don't know exactly how it is linked with vomiting, because it certainly isn't the same
I haven't vomited many times in my life
Some of the last times that it happened, it was on somebody's bathroom floor, I might have urinated myself simultaneously.
One other time, I was at the tail end of my period, but the contraction of my abdomen pushed a couple of droplets of blood out and onto the floor and my host cleaned it. Both times, I rinsed myself and we continued to have a good time. It actually might have happened the same night, where I started out with my head in the toilet and moved to the shower, because I was peeing myself. I don't really remember.
This happened as a consequence of roofies (GHB) and alcohol.
I remember being amused at the position I found myself in, when I pissed myself.
I was on all fours, on the shower floor, I thought of how rockstars probably go through similar things and possibly even more disgusting, involving shit sometimes (I heard a recording once, of Trent talking about having to take a shit and not having a bathroom and how him and his musicians had to shit into bags and whatever, I didn't have the patience to hear the whole thing) and other bodily fluids.
So, I was in this situation, where I had no control over what my body was doing, except smiling to myself, because I felt so rock and roll. And because it felt so decadent and destructive and nihilistic. At the time, I was also in the middle of a relationship with a guy in which I had a lot of fun and also a lot of very unsavory moments and situations.
Puking and pissing myself at the same time on all fours on his shower floor was not one of the unsavory moments. I haven't figured out yet what it is that I find so appealing about self destruction and just going out and getting really fucked up and shit faced, I just get in that mood sometimes. Most of the time, I'm 180 degrees from that and I take pretty good care of myself.
But, anyway, my abdomen spasmed, pushing whatever it was out.
Vomiting requires a lot of effort, effort over which you have no say, your body takes control of itself without you having a grasp of anything and, in that sense, it's pretty cool. Your body makes this effort for you, it doesn't matter at all if you have the physical or mental energy to do it.
I guess I see some kind of relationship to singing, because it's a situation in which something is coming directly out of the body. In that way, they are both visceral and raw and it doesn't get more honest than that. So for "Plague", I guess, there is something of that happening.
I don't know what "that" is. Do I think there is some sort of evil in me and I'm releasing it to the world? No. Is there something inside me I want to get rid of? Sometimes.
I certainly don't picture the overwhelming feelings that I have in my chest sometimes that way. I picture that specifically as an explosion, not something that makes its way out through my orifices.
"Plague" is kind of a disgusting painting, the texture that the mussels makes is nasty and for a fleeting moment when I've looked at it before, whilst working on it, they looked like the carapaces of roaches. And a lot of people that have looked at the image, think the same thing.
The piece has gotten reactions of "oh, this is intense" or "oh, this is disgusting", I love all the reactions. I love the entire image. As I was musing in the previous entry, I hear some kind of rumbling sound when I look at her, I also hear the retching, she frowns involuntarily at the effort of vomiting the plague out. She is in the middle of a maelstrom, formed by a viscous substance and the plague that is coming out of her.
Sometimes, I feel (or maybe more correct is "I remember") the mussels coming out of my own mouth. I remember vomiting and my abdomen contracted so tight from puking, I remember how tiring it is. I remember the bitter and horrible taste of stomach acid, mixed with morsels of half digested food, out of my mouth, burning my throat and larynx like it was sand paper on the tissue of my insides. It's kind of like a tsunami from within.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Today, I finished this self portrait titled "Plague".
As usual, I don't really know where the image came from, but at the same time, they kind of "form" themselves as I make them, which is cool. I think sometimes that the work I make is kind of isolated panels from comics and I imagine the story as I advance in the piece, which is cool.
Sometimes they acquire a very deep meaning to me and they become really personal or they're personal from the beginning.
So anyway.
Towards the end of this painting, I really liked how she kind of became this creature that seems to be making an incredible effort to get rid of whatever she is vomiting. People that have seen it are reminded of Neptune or some kind of sea creature, I imagine it's because of the blue.
To me, she's not necessarily good or evil, she is doing a lot of effort to vomit this substance out of her body. The painting moves a little bit, it sounds like a rumble, it looks kind of like a tornado. She makes the retching sound, I can kind of feel the mussles coming out of my own throat. I feel what I feel the few times that I've puked in my life: my torso curving against my will, my abdomen contracting, my throat hurts.

The piece is done over wood panel, I drew first, then glued a bunch of mussles, then put on some blue acrylic paint, then some clear gesso, then painted with prussian blue and payne's grey.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Drawing from death

In this entry, I will use the word "beautiful" a lot and generally ramble a ton.
Last semester, I had class with Michael Grimaldi for the first time and I also had class with Dan Thompson where he would do a lecture in the first part of the class, using pictures from actual dissections.
Several people squirmed and mumbled during Dan's lectures and it made me very annoyed and sad, and it also made me think about stuff.
I didn't understand what was so disgusting about the human body and being able to see it beyond the skin, if anything, it became even more beautiful. I thought about how poorly we are taught about death and it made me wish we were taught differently about it, it doesn't have to be a sad, horrible thing. It made me think how beautiful nature is in life and in death.
So I gushed about these thoughts and things I couldn't keep to myself to Dan and Michael and, one time after class, Michael was talking about this Advanced Artistic Anatomy that he does in Philadelphia, where him and the class study and draw from cadavers and I asked him to please let me know when he did it again. And he did.
He sent an email with information about the class, about how the smell of formaldehyde can be a bit much sometimes, but you get used to it, and how you get used to the sounds and the bodies themselves and how I got the email, because I showed interest and some maturity to be in the class.

The experience is and isn't what I'd expected.
The class is every Friday for the fall semester, I love that it's just another class for me, I just happen to not be taking it from my school. Fridays are entirely invested in this study.
I didn't expect myself to react so sensitively. The smell of formaldehyde is the least of my issues.
The first body that we saw was an old woman that was lying face down and her body was pretty mangled, her back had been cut open and her trapezius and rhomboid muscles had been cut already. I think also her latissimus dorsi had been cut and a section of her vertebras had been cut to reveal the spinal chord (I actually saw how they did this in another cadaver yesterday).
I wasn't particularly surprised with this one, because it didn't look like a person. It looked like some kind of mannequin, it looks very fake, like what they would use in a horror/gore movie and the muscles reminded me of meat and beef jerky. Maybe a strange moment was then I saw the back of her head, her scalp and hair, that reminded me that she was a person.

The next cadaver we saw was this beautiful, slender and tall man, he had very little body fat, his skin looked lik leather, it wasn't discolored, his muscles were tight and clean. He was face down and they turned him over and I saw his face and, suddenly, this dude looked like a person and I felt pretty bad. I think if I'd have looked at his face long enough, I would have cried. While we were looking at him and talking about him, sometimes kind of wanted to hold his hand, it was strange. Still is, because there is a curious feeling of fondness towards him, I've drawn his hands several times now.

For a while after the first class and during the first class, I got to thinking about bunch of stuff. I wonder, still, if we are sick to want to study out own bodies from fellow deceased humans? I wonder if it dehumanizes us, if it makes us feel less empathy about ourselves? Or am I really aware that that is a corpse and that it's going to be me one of these days?
I feel so alive, that it's difficult for me to think that I'm going to die some day.
Are the bodies we are studying the same as objects now? What makes a body not an object is the life that is in it, so if there is no such life in it anymore, is it really just a mound of meat now?
I know that I am meat and bone and guts, because I'm aware that that is what is inside my flesh, I know that is what other fellow animals are.
It is so strange to me to visualize the two opposite sides of the spectrum meeting, the living and the dead interacting.
I know that different animals deal with their dead in their own way, some don't give a shit, some others take them back to where they live and then eat them or whatever the fuck. God knows us humans have a slew of ways to deal with our dead, I guess studying ourselves in this way, is one of the ways to do it.

What I did expect, and continue to expect, is the absolute fascination that I feel whenever I see the bodies. I'd never seen tendons, I'm not counting this kind of stuff from the meat and animals we eat although it's the same shit, I'd never observed muscle fiber, I'd never listened to what knocking on a naked rib cage would sound like. I'd never listened to a chisel sinking into vertebra, I'd never pulled on the tendons on the forearm. It's all so specific that I think, even without having seen or listened to these things, I'd have known what it was. And pulling on the tendons of the forearm, although dry and rigid, the slight response of the fingers reverts them back to alive and human.
The muscle underneath the skin, the wires and ropes that tightly bind our bodies together over bone, it is all such a beautiful construction. One of the first things I remember thinking how delicate and pristine it was, was the illiocostalis and longissimus muscles that ride the middle of the back, along the sides of the spine, up to the neck and head. Tiny and fragile looking tendons branch out to hold on to other muscle and do whatever movement they do.
The anterior ribcage, with the sternum, looks like a facehugger, kind of, with each of the ribs slightly changing angle as they go down, like spider's legs.
I wonder, seeing the design in nature and seeing the design in our bodies, I wonder why everything that humans build is only straight lines? There are no straight lines in nature, but curves, like in our bodies and in nature, are definitely better design and more resistant.
Bones are far from straight, there are slight curves that makes them better for taking weight, because if they were straight, they would break under the pressure.
Tendons and muscle make me think of the ropes on a sailboat, you pull on them to make the sail taught and firm. Likewise, tendons and muscle pull on each other and on bones to cause firmness and movement.
Everything about the design of the human body makes sense, although it seems arbitrary, everything makes sense and is useful and doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. This makes me even more sad when I see how much we hate on our bodies, with all the magazines and people that like to talk down on the human body, looking for ways to make it "look better" rather than doing things to take care of our vessel.

At first, when I drew, I had no idea what to do. There is so much information, there's so much stringy shit, so much tissue everywhere, muscle fibers that have been torn, that I didn't and still don't for the most part know what to do, but I am learning and I expect myself to learn much more.
Yesterday, I experimented a little bit with chalk and it was helpful to draw with a big section of chalk to kind of explore the form of a muscle. So, in these pictures you can see my ID card and the drawing book on which I'll draw throughout the entire semester some of the first drawings I did in the class and the last colored one is with chalk. Also, the three drawings of hands are of that same guy that impressed me so much, because he still looks like a person.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Today I'm going to leave alone this drawing that I started, based on a sculpture by Christian Zucconi. I saw the image originally posted in Facebook by Hi-Fructose magazine.
I saw it and I fell in love.
I was/am very drawn to the facial expression, the mouth hanging open, like when you come out of the dentist and have been injected with anesthesia. His eyes seem to be swollen, he looks uncomfortable, he looks sideways. One of the sides of his mouth continues onto his cheek and jaw. And I also find his zygomatic bones to be incredibly beautiful.
I find the whole thing, beautiful, really, I would love to see it in person. His nose is also very strong looking, but it has this uneven crack going down the middle of it.
This series of Zucconi's work is meant to explore the fragility of the human body and its ability to heal over and over again. To convey that, he sculpts, then he destroys the sculpture and then he puts it back together, with the mended parts showing obviously. And the end result is hypnotizing.
Here is the sculpture that I'm referencing in my drawing and another one that I really like, that I would like to draw at some point, also.

And this is my drawing. I don't think my intention was to copy the sculpture, I don't remember with what intention I started drawing the sculpture, really, but I love how it's turned out. Sometimes, it seems like my drawing is kind of smiling, even though he doesn't mean to, because he is definitely not comfortable, either, whatever is happening to him. I worked with a Zebra ballpoint pen over Strathmore paper.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Albino Witch

I think I might have mentioned before that I'm a fan of overhead lighting, or maybe it was in a video. I think it was in a video that I talked about how I liked that kind of lighting.

I have, however, an issue when it comes to drawing overhead lighting, because I like smooth degradation of shadows, it's hard for me to just draw from my head. The parts which should be really strong and crude puddles of shadow, like the eye sockets, under the nose and under the zygomatic arches, I haven't been able to bring myself to mark them enough. The time that I think I've been most successful at it, is when I drew the Ice Cream Heads, I had specific reference pictures for those and even then, it was still difficult to do what I had to do.
I like overhead lighting, because it really marks the valleys and mountains of the face. More frontal lighting seems to just flatten out features and it really is the kind of lighting that is seen for advertising or illustration or really graphic shit.
Stronger lighting is used, apparently, when "dark" things want to be conveyed.
I love being able to see the eyes covered by the brow bone, the nasolabial fold marking a path from the nose to the sides of the lips, the diagonal from the zygomatic arches to the top lip, the nose hovering farthest out from the face. It's a thing of beauty. Features are feared and so are wrinkles and anything, I think, that really marks a human face.

So, this drawing, which I've titled "Albino Witch", is meant to be top lit. It's understood that it's some kind of subtle overhead lighting, like she is coming out of some shadows. Her eyebrows and hair are meant to be platinum, like somebody with albinism and, in my mind, her eyes are an almost white light blue. The way that Goldie Hawn's eyes looked in "Death Becomes Her" towards the end of the movie.
The witch looks beyond us, she seems fascinated by what she has her eyes on, her lips are slightly separated.
are correct.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Oral Fixation

The definition of Oral Fixation is hazy, in my personal opinion. Before I started looking for what it might mean, I sort of had a definition for it, or an idea of what it meant in my mind: it meant like there is some sort of focus around the oral cavity, an unintended gravitation towards it. Lately, I've been a bit more curious about why I center my attention around certain things, I think it might be because I'm in art school and I want to be able to talk about my work in a way that makes sense, I want to be able to articulate. Or maybe I just want to be able to verbalize things for myself. I've been wary of looking too much into things, because I feel like it's precisely that mystery that gives them soul. Maybe it was also an excuse to not look a bit harder.
Fucked if I know.

All on its own, though, I have been finding it easier to talk about my work, maybe it's from listening to so many other people talk about their work and being assigned readings about art.

So this oral fixation issue.
I think my favorite part of the face are the eyes, but when I draw faces, I find myself giving a lot of attention to the lips, as well. I like the lips looking like meat, which is what they are. Tissue that appears to be swollen and engorged with blood, fluffy, somehow rigid and soft at the same time, like a beach ball. Tissue that is not very resistant against sharp edges, but just tough enough to hold all the other tissue inside and so thin still that you can see through to all the red and muscle that is under it.
When I draw faces, I try as much as I can to leave the face for last, the eyes and the lips, but by the time that I've managed to work on most of the background, the eyes and lips are almost done, because I can't seem to help myself.
The line where the upper and lower lips meet, with upturned corners, it branches out into little cracks that are on the lips themselves, little wrinkles of expression, where the tissue folds. The lips slightly separated, they make a shy diversely shaped horizontal opening, right smack in the middle of them, suddenly, there is an orifice and a point of entry.
The lips so expressive and expressionless, depending on what you're looking at, and also completely puzzling. The parts of the lips, the two separate pillows in the bottom, separated by a generally decisive groove in the center. A discreet point in varying sizes at the top that then spreads out, like wings.

Through our lips, we ingest, we nurture our body, we taste our surroundings, communicate, we take in and we put out things from the world into our vessel and viceversa.

I'm almost sure I posted something relating to oral fixation earlier in the year or when I started school, but I can't seem to find the post. I haven't been diagnosed with Oral Fixation, nor do I entirely grasp what it is, even though I've looked it up more than once and read a little from different sources. The definition seems vague, at best.
This is the definition, according to "noun a desire to have or put something in one's mouth, as in infants; a condition requiring stimulation of the mouth."
Here is a link to the Wikipedia article: Oral Stage

Now, the definition might be murky, because it was Freud trying to make sense of things from zero. He also thought that all our problems were rooted in masturbation and lived in an incredibly sexist era, which probably doesn't help very much, but as an idea to play with, I guess it's alright. Somewhere to start.
The human psyche is so complex, that I don't think one explanation would fit every case, either way.

My personal conclusion that I might have an oral fixation is simply because a lot of my anxieties and frustrations are manifested through my mouth: There's emotional and anxious eating, I play a lot with my mouth, I used to bite the insides of my mouth a lot, before that I bit my lower lip a ton. Now that I got a labret, I bite on that a lot, I used to play with my lower lip with my hands, just fiddling with it and now that I have the labret, I do that still.
I've resorted to chewing gum, instead of biting the insides of my mouth and whenever I feel "hungry", although I know I'm not and apparently I can chew gum endlessly. I do prefer that, than tearing at my insides with my teeth.
I also love chewing on crunchy shit, the deafening noise and having to press with my jaw, grounding down with my molars is an awesome thing.

So, I think an exploration of sorts of the probable fixation is that I've been wanting to draw mouths only and this one was finished recently. It's titled "Oral Self Portrait", and it is my mouth, with a crevice that allows my teeth to be seen and a labret piercing with horseshoe jewelry. I drew with a 3B pencil over Strathmore illustration board, I used an artist trading card, so it's 2.5 x 3.5" and with her owner, by now, I hope.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pony Girl

"Pony Girl", is a term associated with the BDSM community, it's one of the role play things that they do, here is a link to the wikipedia article regarding animal roleplay, if you want to inform yourself: Animal Roleplay.

I started working again on Pony Girl sometime this week, after much putting things off and working on other things that I wanted to work on, but not on things that are a bit more pressing at this point in the summer.

Pony Girl started long before I started at the NYAA, I started working on her again during the first semester, had to do other stuff and I'm back with her again. She's changed in appearance, in the way that she feels and the way that she looks at me when I work on her. When I had to work on other things, she'd developed a slight frown. She has a demanding stare that pierces through me, her entire face pushing through the harness that I designed for her.

I decided sometime in the past months to cope with some strange sexual experiences that I had through some drawings. Or to kind of cleanse myself (or just use them, who cares?) and although Pony Girl didn't start out with that purpose, she is going to be one of the mediums.

I've been drawing with a 3B Faber Castell pencil over Strathmore 100lbs paper. I was set back really far with redesigning the harness, which was really difficult, because I'm no clothes or garment and accessory designer. I'm cool with how it looks and that's how it's going to look and I'm alright with it being kind of abstract and impossible for a harness, with straps that come from and go nowhere, I'm ok with that. Right now I'm just concentrating on making all the leather look the same, because, in my mind, the harness is all made of leather, ochre reddish brownish colored leather and the adornments are silver and red, I think. So getting all the leather even, I think will help me a lot in finishing it.
So, here she is.

Also, I've launched a website and here is the address: And I also have an etsy shop: Gabriela Handal Arte

Thanks a lot for reading and see you next time.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Robin F. Williams

Today, I went to Robin F. Williams' opening at P.P.O.W., "Sons of the Pioneers" and, while I didn't care in particular for the work, there was one piece that I seriously liked and I liked what I read in the press release a lot.
I've been very aware, for a while now, of feminism, the patriarchy and equality and I like it when certain tables get turned in a really clever way.
So here are some excerpts from the press release which are relevant to what I'm talking about:
- "Williams challenges the roles of American masculinity and traditional portraiture by replacing the idyllic female or odalisque, with romanticized scenes of men in various states of idleness."
- "Williams drapes each figure with mixed identities that mask traditional signifiers of purpose and patriarchy in order to construct a new and sympathetic masculine mythology".
- "She adorns each male with ornamental hats and accessories, allowing them to reflect sensibilities not typically associated with the male portrait."

And this was my favorite piece, titled "Hunter".

So, yeah, I went to an opening haha! Do remember my Facebook page, which you should like and share with your friends: Gabriela Handal Arte
And also, my website (yeah, MY website. It's weird, I know) is slowly filling with my work, do not hesitate to have a look:
Thank you so much for reading!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I started my second semester at the New York Academy of Art two weeks ago and this drawing started in my first Figure Drawing 2 class with Michael Grimaldi.
Michael is very focused in design and composition, so we were supposed to do a lot of little thumbnails and play with cropping and value. As I've done before, i started doing what i'm not supposed to be doing, because i really liked our model's pose and drew a big profile, which is what you see in the picture and then decided to see how accurately i could get a skull in her and it just started looking so cool that i got rid of all the thimbnails and she's become what you see in the picture.
I have the intention of finishing the drawing, similar to "Máscara de Carne", although not anatomically incorrect.
I've titled her "C7", because that's how far down i'm going in the skeleton. I've used HB and 2B pencils over Starthmore 400 series drawing paper, i have a pretty big crush on her.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Like Flame

So, today I finished a cute little painting, I think she's about 4 x 4 inches.
I got the wood at the beginning of last semester, I don't remember if it was from Blick or Utrecht, although it doesn't matter, because they're one and the same now. Maybe it was Soho Art materials or Pearl.
I got the thing for free, and I loved it right away. The finish on the wood is so perfectly smooth, I touched it a little when I got it, but not too much, 'cuz I don't know if the friction of my skin could ruin it or something.
I knew I wanted to do some drawing on it, something beautiful. Like a week ago, I got the balls to do it and she turned up.
The Alizarin Orange color that I used on her, was also for free, I got it as a sample along with Viridian and a blue color. It's really expensive material, apparently, they're Williamsburg.
So, I wanted to use the Alizarin Orange and I did.
As I worked on her, she kept looking to me like made out of fire and I went with that and she really reminded me of a poem that I stumbled upon in the black hole that is tumblr, that sometimes is not so bad.
The poem is this one:
"She twists like a flame.
Her back, a sierra of bone,
her hips, a sandstone canyon.
And I can believe her gaze,
born from a thousand years dreaming
and as dew-cool as moonlight,
is only for me."
—Eliot Khalil Wilson

I remember the line being "she twists like flame", which I like more than that one, so she's titled "Like Flame". And here she is:

I have also launched (sort of) a website, I'm going to add "Like Flame" to it in a bit, I'm slowly adding things to it and I'm posting it discreetly, here it is:, because I have a lot of imagination.
And I've also put up an Etsy shop, which is also called Gabriela Handal Arte, because I have a lot of imagination.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Studio seven

The day before yesterday, i hugn in my studio the finished works that are framed and ready for hanging and imwill continue to put that kind of work on this wall. Like my own gallery wall <3
It is so hard for me to believe that i am already in the second half of my first year of school.
I've been putting my studio together these passed couple of days, now that the school building reopened and we don't have class yet, i think this is the least visible wall in this second picture, so i decided to put things that are in progress, papers or mediums that i want to use and things that aren't framed in a proper frame, like "implied".
I've also been working on a persinal websitea nd the address is because i have a lot of imagination. I will keep you posted.

Thank you for reading and sticking with me this far.