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Seeing Things: Bryan Lewis Saunders Experiments With Drugs, Creates Self-Portrait

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Drugs and experimentation: neither are new in the art world. But one artist could be seen to be more dedicated to the cause than others.

Bryan Lewis Saunders undertook a self-titled "experiment" to create a different self-portrait every day under the influence of different drugs.

Saunders claims to have started drawing at the age of one, and started having drawing classes at the age of four. From 1995 the artist undertook the challenge of drawing a self-portrait every single day, something which caused his "teachers, friends and family serious concerns because [he] refused to draw anything other than [himself]."

bryan lewis saunders Saunders' self-portrait under the influence of marijuana

But how did Saunders move from a normal daily practice to one so dominated by drugs? He tells HuffPost UK about a neighbour in his "crazy apartment building" who changed the path of his art and life.

"When I first moved in, a neighbour had showed me a big fat monster book encyclopedia of pills and said, 'See this book?' Rapping on it with his greasy knuckles. 'You can get anything in this book, in this building!'"

SEE ALSO: 10 Disturbing Self-Portraits

So Saunders took him up on his claim. The pictures below probably serve to tell the rest of the story, although not unsurprisingly the artist "became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage" within weeks.

Despite the experiment beginning in 2001, it took 10 years for the results to start getting attention - something Saunders found a challenge.

bryan lewis saundersSelf-portrait under the influence of dilaudid

"When [the paintings] first got picked up, it was excruciatingly distressing and morbidly terrifying. I got quite a few hate mails. They either wanted me to suicide myself, or they themselves wanted the honour of putting me down like an animal."

However, some people have been positive about Saunders' portraits, appreciating their eccentricity and artistic merits.

"I can't thank [these] people enough. I've gotten several exhibition offers, lots of people want to buy the exact same picture, and just two days ago I got my first "love mail" ever and I didn't even know there was such a thing! How cool is that?"

The video below is one made by Saunders which shows some of the 3000 portraits he's created over the last 17 years.

These days, as well as drawing a portrait every day, Saunders is pursuing other ventures, including stand up comedy and music, appearing as vocalist with musicians ASVA and Philippe Petit.

What do you make of the drug self-portraits?

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Drug Self Portraits
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