Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Final Project Work in Progress

The final project is kind of a big deal. It's only one of... maybe 7 homework assignments, with about 10 studio assignments, so it is not a huge component of the final portfolio... but it's like, what do you want to do? Do that thing, and do it well, and it has to be the equivalent of 3 18x24 pages. A series, a cell, or a large format drawing. With an artist's statement. Ooooooh. I have already started over once, and am trying not to start over again. My challenge in art is always that I want to do a static, imaginary scene, something maybe relaxing that the viewer can project onto, or relax into. (it might be hard to tell from the work I have been posting because it is all for specific assignments, but left to my own devices I will paint a castle at sunset, or a bed boat on peaceful water, or an uninhabited planet.) But there needs to be action and tension, either in the layout or the energy of the strokes or in the subject matter. ... I know. It is just some empty water. I think it came out pretty well though. I was using the hake brush to fill in the background evenly with an acrylic blue wash, and I used burnt umber and blue not diluted at all on the hake brush, swishing back and forth, and the wet paper under it spread the color and softened it. I know, it is a drawing class, and this is a 15 minute painting. I plan to add in a plesiosaur in the water staring up at a traveler in a hot air umbrella. But I like it the way it is. I am considering cutting out a silver submarine and just rubber cementing it on. My theme is "things that I like that are not real" but I am filtering it by only doing scenes with quasi steampunk fantasy vehicles, paired with "menacing" non threats, such as extinct or fictional creatures. That's a good theme, right? I also have a lot of gorgeous photos saved from the website, and I would love to do a series incorporating explorers to fantasyscapes wearing soft and bright knitted things. Like just a tiny planet with on it a victorian rocket ship and a pair of children or young people making their way across it in pointy caps and their stocking feet.

We had to talk at length and see slides on What is a Series. She showed us artists with a consitent style, and told us that the works related in subject matter were series, whereas the works that looked similar in form but were different in mood and subject were not series. I kind of knew that, but I think it was helpful because I was sort of planning on doing a large format drawing of this massive sea to space textbook illustration, annotated with those little zoom in circles explaining what the interesting creatures are. But thinking about series made me think that a series of related and visibly connected works would be more of a challenge, and also since it is in distinct units would be more rewarding to work on.
This is 70% done. It is one of probably 4 works.
vehicle: submarine
monster: water bears (it is a micro organism.)

See, there is a focus, because the bears are around the submarine, and their bodies point at it. And there is movement because of the assymetrical blue patch in the background.... It's just terrible. It has to stand up to being one of 25 drawings on the wall, it has to draw people in from a distance, it has to not look so boring.

Graphite, the way I use it, does not hold up to the scale. Those darks are as dark as I could get them. My professor suggested using a combination of pen and pencil. The layout for this is final, and the submarine is probably done. However I had not looked at a picture of a glacier lately so I did not want to finalize the ice. Probably once I ink the ice I will need to darken the water bears... I also want to put in white highlights with white acrylic. And possibly put a wooly scarfed explorer popping out the hatch.

They're all due the thursday after next. We have to bring our current work for comments in this thursday. I will probably just finish this one and bring in the sketch of the space one. I am a tiny bit worried because the space one is going to be totally different in scale and color (using black paper as a base). The perspective will be similar. My teacher said I might want to think about perspective and ways of using the picture plane because as I've got it it looks like it's on a stage. She's right. That is totally true. But that is how I see things. It is again with the overly passive scenes.

I like making very peaceful works. One thing that I have wanted to paint for a long time is a scene I have seen in various gardens and parks, where fruit has fallen from a few medium trees to lay briefly in the short, perfect grass. I think there is something about that sight that makes me think of cloisters, and exploring a formal garden supervised by a governess... just a sort of orderly, protected space. For this project, though, I wish I was in the mood for something striking. Something, I don't know, visceral, or poignant. Diaristic. Something. But as the prof talked to each of us during studio today, I heard her advice for each person who hadn't picked a theme or gotten started, and she told them all to look back in their sketchbook free choice pages, and see what emerged.

I feel like I could do a lot more interesting things if the assignment was to make 3 totally unrelated works and then stretch our artist statement skills to make them seem cohesive.
Here are photographs from my inspiration file, which are resolutely refusing to resolve themselves in my mind into some actually inspired artwork.

Handknit round lace shawl, dyed post knitting, writhing on the sand
An emu which in the process of being dissected has come to resemble a many headed monster.
An old illustration of the moon (this will come close to being an inspiration for the series but I included it so you would not think I only like pictures of dead things.)

This is the skin of a real elephant being cleaned and prepped for going over an elephant form for display in a museum.

So. Anyway. I don't know what to do, and I am probably going to stick with what I'm doing because it's just one art project, and I am interested in the subjects, I just feel like I can't do what we have been told to do since the start of the quarter, which is to push through. Susanna (our teacher) says that your best work happens when you push through when you get stuck, and when you stay with a drawing and see where you can push it. I am not pushing. I don't even see where to push.

No comments: