Some highlights from sketchbooks in the South Pacific
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 http://griffsnuff.deviantart.com/art/Epic-unicorn-animation-173932185)
Seasons: Sculpture project
Methods of Observation and Understanding: final Advanced Painting and Drawing project, exploring visual systems and conventions
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 # 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.
A Handshake with Nature: oil painting project from Advanced Painting and Drawing
Project #1 –Variations on a Theme- emphasis on process and materiality- a modernist approach to artmaking
Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.
Making art is not just a means to an end- the most direct path from an idea or observation to its visual realization- or at least it doesn’t have to be. Rather, it can be fruitful to think of painting or drawing as a process that can take unexpected twists and turns, and layers of paint, graphite, charcoal or what-have-you added and removed and reapplied. The end result often reflects the changes, both physical and conceptual, that can take place in the development of a work of art, and may result in a finished work that can surprise you.
This project is designed to facilitate such an approach. By encouraging change and transformation in your technique and formal language you will push yourself to experiment and diversify your visual vocabulary. This is a good way to jumpstart your paintings and drawings when you are stuck and it is a great way to build a comprehensive understanding of all the ways in which formal strategies can deepen and widen the scope of your projects.
The starting point for this project will be a single object (this coffee cup), class of objects (all coffee cups), or motif (tapering cylinder form) that you select as a springboard for an exploration of composition, materials, and transformation.
Limiting the subject of your work can free you up to explore aspects of the experience of artmaking that you might not discover were you more focused on content.
Once you have selected your motif, begin by making lots of quick studies and sketches in a variety of media. Bring these preliminary drawings/paintings to a critique of work in progress during week 2. Consider how to proceed next based in part on conversations that ensue from the critiques.
Next, you will create an evolving series of artworks that incorporate elements from, or further investigate an approach from your preliminary studies. Decide what parameters will remain constant and what will change.
For example, you may want to select a dimension that will remain consistent through each iteration. The size may change but the aspect ratio must remain the same. (example- one piece might be 10” x 20”, the next 15” x 30”- you may also keep the size the same throughout.). The type of surface you select may change as well.
*You must have 6-8 final pieces.
How the work actually develops is up to you. If you feel you need more specific guidance, here is a model of an approach you may want to try:
*Your first painting/drawing should be a fairly direct but more developed version of one of your initial studies.
*In the second, you will be observing the first painting or drawing but not the object and will be asked to make at least three dramatic formal changes (such as changes in composition, color, mark, texture, pattern and so on).
*In the third you will be observing the second by again changing at least three formal elements dramatically, and also introducing a different technical change (such as sanding away, using a palette knife instead of a brush, drawing blind and so on).
*In the fourth you will be observing the third and must make at least three dramatic changes of any kind and introduce an outside influence (such as a new pattern, additional elements, etc.).
*In the fifth and subsequent pieces, you will be observing the fourth and may make as many or as few changes of any kind you like. You must re-form your object in some way and use it as an influence in your work
Change and evolution is built into this process, but its still important to keep in mind that you not confine yourself to a single vision or idea you have at the outset of the process.
While content can be a factor in your choices, remember that the emphasis for this project should be on the tactile experience of painting or drawing. Pay close attention to the application of paint or mark, choice and treatment of the surface, rendering techniques (when appropriate) and arrangement and installation of the work. The focus here is on the physical and the visual experience of painting and/or drawing.
oil painting, Short studies from Painting
Paper Kingdom: oil painting, final project in Painting focusing on creating depth
For this project you are to complete a painting that conveys an understanding of the complexity of creating a suggestion of space on an inherently flat surface. You have a lot of flexibility here, but your final composition must delineate a clear fore-, middle-, and background. Your painting may suggest an illusionistic space- a plausible “window on the world,” or it may convey a less literal, more abstract space. In either case, you should be prepared to talk about how you came to the compositional choices that you did.
A second component of this project is the conscious recognition of the development of the composition as an ongoing process.
First, a few notes on the working process. Begin by developing your ideas through drawings, collages, quick smallish oil studies, or other media. Consciously vary your compositions as much as possible. Spend some time experimenting with possibilities.
You may cull source material from sketches from life or your imagination, other paintings, photographs, or any other visual media, but your final compositions should be invented ones. I don’t want you copying the composition of a single image outright.
On Tuesday Nov. 2, bring all your studies (a minimum of 6 pieces) to class for small group critiques of work in progress. We will review these studies and you will develop a plan for a final painting. Work on that painting which you will turn in as your final project. That painting is due on the last day of class, Nov.16, for a final group critique.
Because this assignment is so broad, here are some suggestions about possible ways to focus your attention.
1. Use the surrounding landscape as a source- consider a view through a window that incorporates elements both inside and outdoors, or weather permitting, go paint outdoors- “en plein aire” to develop compositional ideas.
2. If you want to focus on the figure, attend the evening figure drawing sessions to gather source material, or have friends model for you.
3. Look carefully at other painters. Choose one or two artists whose work intrigues you to use as a reference point, either by emulating aspects of their paint application, their approaches to composition, or their particular merging of form and content.
4. Use a collage aesthetic as a springboard for your work. Ask yourself how you can imply space through the juxtaposition of fragments.
Two ways to think about space in painting:
1. Painting as Window - Illusionstic Space
A painting can suggests a plausible, “enterable” space, one that provides a
believable illusion of the physical world as we experience it visually. From the Renaissance through the middle of the 19th century virtually all Western painting, no matter how outlandish the subject matter, was based on the underlying assumption that this was how one goes about making a painting.
In this paradigm, all factors contribute to a literal reading of what’s depicted- consistent light sources throughout, accurate proportional relationships, believable use of perspective
2. Painting as End in Itself
For some time now, many artists have been producing paintings that clearly assert “this is not a window. It’s paint on a flat surface.” Starting with Manet and then the impressionists, artists broke away from what they saw as the shackles of illusionistic space. They began drawing more attention to the material qualities of a painting, or paint’s expressive potential as an end in itself. For many this meant a deliberate flattening of the picture plane, but many others have been less interested in a negation of illusion than in exploring ways to conceptualize pictorial space not so clearly tied to direct observation.
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