Posts Tagged ‘self-portrait’


I have been working on this painting on and off for about 8 months.  Some times I take small steps forward, other times it becomes stagnant remains a tough project.



The Adolescent Journey, Kevin Casto, 2009, Digital Collage

One of my graduate classes at Boston University was in child growth and development.  We explored the idea of the adolescent journey, which is an intriguing concept that we all participate in, yet few realize or understand the journey until many years later. For one of the assignments I created a digital collage to express my adolescent journey. I began by sketching out several ideas and decided upon using maps of significant places in my life as the background. Choosing an 18” x 24” masonite panel for the initial image, I trimmed and pasted the maps onto the panel in a collage-like manner using acrylic gel medium, and I added acrylic white to diminish areas of the map and highlighted other areas with pencil and black oil pastels.  I then digitally photographed the map image and began to work with it in Photoshop, combining personal photographs and images that I have taken over the years to create my digital collage.

My journey wrestles with the question: what if I would have taken another path?  What if I would have accepted a different job, moved elsewhere or married another?  There are many forks in the road of life, and several times one direction or the other does not appear compelling, one decision does not appear right or wrong, but it is still a tough decision that must be made with life-changing ripples.

At the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton – finally an astronaut?

When I was a child I desired to be an astronaut and walk on the moon like Neil Armstrong; unfortunately, wearing glasses and eye problems eliminated that possibility.  I considered acting, science, and ministry, worked as a photographer and a sign/billboard painter, was in the army and worked at an array of part-time jobs along the way to becoming an art teacher.  I am thrilled my journey is still in process, and I know that the good work that God has begun will continue until its completion at the day of Christ’s return.

My time frame for completing the digital collage was very short, and as I look back on it, I know there needs to be some revision in the piece before I am satisfied with it. Several artist friends have been inspirational in my stylistic choices in this self-portrait type of a project: Bruce Bitmead, Gaylen Stewart, D. David Sapp, and my father, who was and is my first art instructor.  The German Expressionists George Rouault and Anselm Kiefer also influence my choices.

Four Friends, Kevin Casto, 1983, Photograph

When I think of this image made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania back in the Spring of 1983, I first think of the song Bookends by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you

Sometimes a photograph can leave you with a joyful memory or regret and loss.  Many times you can wonder about what became of the person frozen in that moment in time.  What would it be like to travel back in time to tell yourself one thing that you know now?  Would it be a good thing…I suppose not.

It’s an interesting thing to interact with a memory that is an image upon your heart.  This image is part of the portfolio I carry around of who I am visually – a self-portrait.  It’s part of a foundational time in my life artistically and spiritually.  Thanks friends for those special days!

It’s good for everyone to stop from time to time and take inventory, isn’t it?

 God’s word reminds us to look back at what happened; I need look at 2011 to seek God’s direction for 2012.

Deuteronomy 32: 7 tells us to remember the days of old; consider the years long past.  Don’t forget why God saved you!  2 Corinthians 5:15 states, “He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.” (Holman Standard Bible)

So I need to take stock and look back on what I did last year so I can walk with confidence into this new year, the future which is where we are all headed.   I have a list of challenging questions that I have asked myself about what I have done and where I am going.

 1. What have I done in service to the Lord this past year?

2. How much did I grow spiritually this past year (or did I)?

3. Who or what did I witness to this past year?

4. Was I as faithful as I could have been?

5. Did I encourage others every time I had the chance?

6. What would I like to see different this year ?

7. What am I going to do to help make this difference ?

8. What change has Jesus been working in my life?

9. Am I loving those in my church, my family and my community, as well as my enemies?

 What tests did I undergo this past year?

10. The test of anger: What makes me mad?

11. The test of humor: What makes me laugh?

12. The test of music: What makes me sing?

 13. The test of anxiety: What makes me worry? What do I fear?

14. The test of money: How important is it to me? What do I do with it?

15. The test of value: What is most important to me?

16. The test of influence: What difference am I making in others?

 17. The test of companionship: What kind of people do I prefer to be with?

18. The test of speech: What do I like to talk about?

19. The test of time: What do I use it for? How well do I use it?

and finally:

20.  What goal should I have for 2012?

Reflecting upon what I have or have not done is a great way to seek what I want out of life and a great beginning to set goals for the future.  In 2011 I completed my Masters degree from Boston University, which was a huge goal and a huge relief after all of the energy I put into my studies.  I then put my Masters thesis into practice by beginning The Art Junction in March of 2011 as a community-based art education project for the rural community that I live in.

Kevin Casto, Self portrait during grad school, digital collage, 2010

One of the goals I have set for this year is to open my studio back up and begin regular work in painting and drawing.  I am well on my wayI closed down my last studio in the spring of 2006 and was in my last exhibit October of 2006 at Cleveland State University.  Studio time had to take a break.  I had to allow my family to have first priority for the past several years as we built a house, moved, dealt with family health issues, and endured graduate school. The goals that I have now embarked upon are daunting, and I know that running the Art Junction, as well as restarting my studio, is a major stretch.  I read in my devotions the other day a great quote from Calvin Miller who states, “Nothing is more beautiful than people trying to accomplish some great thing in the name of Christ.  These see themselves as weak, but we should never pity them.  Those who hold any vision too great for them to accomplish on their own must rely on Jesus.  For those are most blessed whom life reduces to such utter weakness that they cannot manage on their own.  But watch the weak!  See how they tremble and trust. What! Do these who have no strength still dream of conquering the stars?  Yes.  Their dream is reasonable, too.  They have been made capable by his power.” (The Christ We Knew by Calvin Miller)

So as I challenge myself I want to also challenge you: to allow the Master creator to guide the artistic endeavors of your life; to invite Christ to fill your empty canvas.  I know it’s not easy and we will make mistakes and fail, but in our weakness He is able to do His will.