Thursday, January 26, 2017

Final Thoughts

The first highlight from this semester was finishing my still-life drawing. Vividly I remember starting the drawing thinking "this will never look how it's meant to." It was tough at first; I had to erase and redefine, erase and redraw, erase and erase and erase until finally I took a step back to look at what I had produced and was shocked to see that I had produced something I never thought possible. This project was a wakeup call for me, that I was able to do more that I had thought was ever possible for me.

Another highlight from this semester was the assignment in which we were asked to reproduce a portrait originally draw/painted by a master artist. Although this piece doesn't look exactly as the master's did, I spent hours laboring over which colors to use, over the values in the face, and over the shape of the subject's features. In the end, I am proud of what I accomplished. I had not done a project such as this with colored pencil, so I finally had an opportunity to break out my Prismacolors which had otherwise been collecting dust. I learned the importance of using multiple colors, which at fist may appear too extreme to use by themselves, mixed together to create just the right one for what you need. This project was very fun for me, and what I gained from it was invaluable.

The third highlight from this course for me was the eyes, nose, and mouth studies done with charcoal pencils. I particularly enjoyed this project because people-portraits-are my favorite thing to draw, and being able to dive into the anatomy, to some extent, of the features of a human face was invaluable for me. Besides being able to look more closely at human features, this exercise allowed for more experimentation and practice with using value to create form, volume, and depth. Pictured above is the work I produced for the nose study of which I am most proud. This study took me the most time to finish to my liking, and by the end of it I had been having quite a bit of fun adjusting the values and creating features akin to my own that I was somewhat disheartened that I had to be done lest I overwork the piece. Much like the other drawing I completed using charcoal, the still life, this project served as an immense boost to my artistic confidence, and for that reason is a notable highlight from this semester. 

The Work of Art of Which I am the Most Proud

This piece of work originated from the still-life unit in which I was instructed to render a scene of my choosing, drawn from life. This assignment was the first time I had every seriously tried to use only value to create depth and volume, as well as my first drawing from life. Through the assignment I learned how to better use value, something which I also had little experience in doing. I learned to push contrasts when necessary to give the objects form and volume and depth, and to pay close attention to which areas have subtle changes and which areas have grand changes to value. This piece stands as my favorite because of how much I learned, and how surprised I was to find out that, in some respect, I had it in me all along. The still-life unit gave me more confidence than I had previously in my artistic abilities, and that confidence allowed me to release any tentative feelings I had when starting the projects which would follow, and ultimately flourish.

Watercolor Techniques

• To experiment, explore, and learn a variety of ways to paint with watercolor

Through this brief experimentation with watercolor, I learned how to manipulate the medium into producing the effect I desired. I was taught how important it is to stay "light and white" when working with watercolor, because there's no easy way, or really any way at all, to undo a mistake or to make a stroke brighter than how it was laid down. Watercolor is perhaps one of the most unforgiving of the paint mediums, and this was apparent when went for one specific technique and instead produced another, which conferred an irreversible effect. This exercise instilled within me great respect for those who are successful working with watercolor. It's harder than it looks!

Unsung Hero Artist's Statement

The story I chose to represent was that of Captain Gail Halvorsen. During World War II, Halvorsen flew as a pilot for the Allies to deliver food and supplies to the people of East Berlin who had little access to food and other necessities. Although his deliveries helped alleviate hunger, they did not provide the hope needed so desperately by one group in particular: the children. Thus, Halvorsen began delivering chocolates and gums and earned himself the name Captain ‘Wiggly Wings’.
My decision to chose which Unsung Hero to represent was obvious once I read Halvorsen’s story. Working at a daycare for the past year and volunteering at summer camps for the past three has given me a love for working with children and an appreciation of them as well. Finding someone who understood the importance of their happiness and their hope was a perfect fit for me.
In my work, Halvorsen is the figure in the upper right corner. He stands on a ladder which ascends into a blue background. The background is blue to signify the sky in which he flew. The figure I drew is adorned with a red and white pinstripe shirt as an allusion to candy men much like the one which appeared in the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie. The candy man in the movie made children happy, lifting their spirits by handing out sweets. The children went crazy for the candy but always shared, just like the children Captain Halvorsen observed on the occasions he landed.
I made his arm raised to suggest that he is the one dropping the ‘happy packages’ floating whimsically down towards the hands at the bottom of my piece. This dropping of packages shows how he got the sweets to the children, by literally dropping them out of the sky. Furthermore, the ‘happy packages’ are the brightest object in the piece. These ‘happy packages’ are perhaps the most important aspect of what Captain Halvorsen did; this was what gave the kids the strength to persevere, thus they are the most eye-catching element to my work.
As for the children, I chose to represent them using hands, distraught and frenzied, grasping for the ‘happy packages.’ The hands are highly textured to invoke the derelict state of the children at the time, both physically and mentally; black and white were the principal colors used to avoid any colors with a happy or bright connotation. These children were not especially happy, they were fighting every day for their lives, thus color was not fitting. The hands get lighter as they reach toward the ‘happy packages’ and towards Captain Halvorsen. Those packages bring with them joy, happiness, and chiefly they bring hope. For this reason, the hands become less dark, though still remain stained with darkness.
Therefore Captain Halvorsen’s goal of bringing hope to the children is represented in my piece. Firstly by means of an allusion to a candy man, then through the ‘happy packages’ he is dropping, and finally through the hands which reach vertically towards the packages.
Creating this piece pushed the expectations I have for myself in my future of creating art. Not only did I draw inspiration from a story and not from a visual aide, but I also exceeded what I thought was possible for myself. Scarcely have I ever worked with acrylics, and I’ve never worked on a scale of this size. Creating such large elements and working with a grand area was all new to me.
Beyond the physical aspects of creating, my ability of production improved. I painted hands! I’ve not studied the hand, and here I have depicted not one, but six hands--though two of those hands are minimally detailed. I have surpassed what I thought was possible for myself and through this I learned that with enough patience, I could create whatever I want.
Furthermore, the way I chose to render the hands surprised me too, for another thing I’ve not done is to work solely in value--only in black and white. Drawing inspiration from another artist’s technique, I altered it slightly and applied it to my piece and it turned out better than I could ever have expected.

This piece was quite the learning experience and revealed to me more than anything that I’m on the right track. I’m paving my own way towards mastering the basics and not-so-basics of art, from learning anatomy, to learning how to use different materials, to improving my eye for what looks right and what looks off and to being able to recognize that. Creating this piece allowed me to realize that if I put my mind to anything, something incredible will result from it. This piece has given me the power to recognize my own weaknesses, and, in confronting them, come out a better artist and person.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Landscape Painting inspired by Wolf Kahn

Through this painting I learned chiefly how the variance of brush strokes can lead to a more interesting piece. As opposed to using the same technique throughout the work, changing how paint is laid down can create an interesting contrast between elements--such as the background, foreground, and objects--in the work; for example, using wide texture-filled brush strokes for a stump and then layering that with the dry brush technique.
Another thing I learned was how to truly work from background to foreground, not just with laying down large swaths of color for the literal background of the piece, but working also back to front with the elements (trees, clouds, a bush) within the painting. In my painting I put down the background, then worked on (what I think is) the sky, and finally added in trees (again going from back to front).

The final thing I learned was how to see not only color, but to see in tints as well. Although the assignment was to change the color of the original painting the tints were supposed to stay intact. This threw me off initially, as often my tints would be darker than demonstrated in the Wolf Khan paintings and I would need to reevaluate my piece.

The mood of Khan’s painting changed from peaceful to energetic and dark as the color scheme went from greens and yellows to reds and blues in my painting. The similarities between the two pieces are in the composition and in the brush strokes. Khan doesn't use many solid colors and neither does my rendition of his work. The works differ in their color schemes and mood. My work has slightly darker tints in it as well, and the mood is more energetic as a result of my colors being more intense than his.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

LMC Unsung Hero Planning

The story which motivates me the most is the one of the "The Berlin Candy Bomber", Gail Halvorsen. His is a story of giving hope--in the form of candy--to children during the Soviet blockade of Western Berlin following World War Two. The population of West Berlin was cut off from supply routes; little food could travel within the border leaving many citizens starving, especially the children. But they weren't just starving for food, they were starving for hope.

Possible visuals for my LMC Unsung Hero:
- Chocolate
- Gum
- "Captain Wiggly Wings" (He would wiggle the wings of his plane as he landed)
- "Operation Little Vitties"
- "Without hope the soul dies" (Said by one of the children who received a chocolate bar)
- West Berlin

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Imaginative Self-Portrait

  • Nine mouths which represent my love of language and my goal to learn nine of them at a conversational level
  • The binary code represents my love of computers
  • The ‘ear’ is a symbol for a video game I play
  • The heart represents my love of biology and that I was once able to draw an anatomically-correct heart from memory
  • The brain--in a most straightforward way--represents my thoughts and is filled with the things that consume me (Travel, language, art, and my work)
  • The flag represents Spain and the Spanish language and relates to me because I consider Spain (Madrid, specifically) to be my second home and I intend to live there when I am older
  • The building blocks (within the brain) represent my work (at a daycare) and how much that work has impacted me personally
  • The fountain pen nib (within the eye) with ink running down represents my love of writing and of fountain pens in general, of which I have two so far.
  • The globe represents my love of travel and my future plans
  • The DNA further represents my love of science and biology and is in my brain because I consider it to be an integral part of me
  • The circular symbols are from a T.V show that I adore and which pushed me to begin drawing; without having watched that show I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for art

The white values and dark values complemented each other. If there is a light value towards the bottom right portion of the head there is also a light value towards the top left of the head. I used similar patterns of light and dark in particular areas to bring out certain objects (i.e the brain and the heart) and unify the piece as a whole, as the pattern would be throughout much of the drawing. Overall, I could have done a better job at this, as my final drawing has a lot of while and very little middle value.

My strength in this piece was drawing the symbols; the brain looks like a brain, the heart looks like a heart, the boat looks like a boat, and so on. A quick glance at any one of these objects would allow the viewer to discern what it is that has been drawn. A challenge I faced while drawing this was to make the whole thing flow. Although the brain connects with the heart and the boat and the ocean work well where they are, there is a lot of negative space which isn’t conducive to having things flow; if I were to do this piece over again I would fill the entirety of the head with objects instead of leaving vast swaths of nothing as I have it now.