Carissa's Art

Critical Issues in the Arts, pages 7 - 13

Critical Issues in the Arts, pages 0 - 6

Some highlights from sketchbooks in the South Pacific

Tagged: art

Second half of unicorn calendar I made for my roommate after first year of college

First half of unicorn calendar I made for my roommate after first year of college

(credit for unicorn inspiration goes to

Tagged: unicornartcalendercartoon

Chalkboard art, collaboration between me and a friend

Chalkboard art, collaboration between me and a friend

Seasons: Sculpture project

Methods of Observation and Understanding: final Advanced Painting and Drawing project, exploring visual systems and conventions

Project prompt:

Project # 3 –visualsystems and conventions- Emphasis on mediated experience- a somewhat-more-post-modern approach

Our perception of the world has always been influenced by (and some would argue determined by) organizational constructs- languages and systems that we use to describe experience.

From the human genome to the forces determining planetary motion to permutations of binary code that make computers possible, we are increasingly made aware of the degree to which our reality is structured by systems.

As intuitive as art making can be, any creation of form requires an adherence to certain conventions- modes of organizing the visual and tactile world to make it make sense.

Develop an artwork or a series of pieces selecting a system, inventing one, or combining or juxtaposing several systems as the basis for a work of art.

What constitutes a “system” for the sake of this project? Almost anything- from particular painting traditions to computer pixilation to geologic maps.  The focus here is to consciously apply an awareness of the way information is structured to a work of art.


One way to generate ideas for this project is to use the library as a (re)source:

The library is a repository of information and information systems and can provide a valuable starting point for this project.

To begin the process, wander around the library without a clear agenda. You don’t need to start with a completely blank slate (Possible type of entering thoughts- I’ve always liked [quilt patterns] [the drawings in Babar books] [nomadic architecture] [the periodic table] [baseball statistics]. I wonder how I might incorporate that into a painting/drawing.) but be open to surprise discoveries.

Collect “research” material. Take notes, make studies and sketches, check out books, photocopy interesting images/articles/etc., all the while asking yourself what attracts you to the source materials and how you might use/transform/juxtapose them.


The web has transformed the way we see, access, and process imagery. Seek out visual systems via the internet and use these as source material for artwork that will be produced largely by your own hand.

Whichever approach you choose, bring your culled material and initial ideas to a group crit we will conduct early in the process.  Develop an artwork based on your research and the ideas generated in the critique.

Think of this project as a way to keep the process of painting fresh, and to get outside yourself by culling imagery from found sources. Think about how information is structured and how meaning develops.  Consider the relation between appropriation and invention, and the relation between accident (the images you stumble upon) and purposefulness (how you use, combine, and contextualize your sources).

The emphasis here should be on content, as opposed to form, but it is impossible to completely separate the two. Of course, the focus on painting as an ongoing process is still important.

Juxtaposition: project from Advanced Painting and Drawing, imitating 2 different artistic styles—sources: Margaret Wall-Romana (contemporary twin cities artist) and Ambrosius Bosschaert (Renaissance artist)

Project prompt:

Project # 2- Style Mash-Up

Attentive observation/Style exploration-

Copying details, composing by cropping, juxtaposition

‘Style’ is a complicated phenomenon in art. Do artists select and/or cultivate a mode of working or a visual signature, or is it an unconscious expression of identity that ‘just happens’ when someone takes a brush to a canvas or a pencil to paper?

This exercise picks that question apart a bit, and provides an opportunity to ‘try on’ a few artist’s approaches.

You are to find a reproduction of two paintings (or drawings if that is your emphasis), at least one from the ‘golden age’ of Western painting (from Giotto to Courbet, or the early renaissance to the 19th century realist movement), and one from any time period, any culture. I encourage you to select images from books, preferably ones that have some reproductions of details, as print-outs from the web can have serious resolution and color deficiencies.

Crop a segment of your chosen paintings/drawings, and copying those fragments as carefully as you can, incorporate them in a work using one of the following strategies:

1. Simply juxtapose your two cropped fragments, rendered as closely as you can to the originals, or 2. create a composition that incorporates the meticulously copied fragments from the paintings or drawings you select with elements that you develop yourself. The copied sections should comprise the dominant compositional elements of the painting/drawing surface.

Learn what you can of the technical procedures of the artists you choose. Admittedly, you won’t be able to mimic their approaches exactly, but try to remain as true to the spirit of the process as you can, given the materials we use today. This is in part an exercise in training yourself to look patiently and carefully at the surface characteristics of a painting or drawing, and translate that visual experience to a tactile one (that is, of course, also a visual one too).

This project also tacitly acknowledges that a creative process can involve a lively ‘conversation’ with art of the past, and that the history of art provides an opportunity for artists to reconsider, reinterpret, and recontextualize work that has come before.