Sunday, September 30, 2012

Colors and Bones

So I've realized that the Color Theory course I'm taking right now should actually be called "Perfect Craftsmanship."  For the first two weeks we made millions upon millions of paint chips on bristol paper.  And after hours of drawing grids, mixing gouache paint, and cutting out every chip with an exacto knife, we made... COLOR WHEELS!

Color Wheel (left) and Complimentary Colors (right)

There are many more where this came from, but I think you get the picture.

This past week we finally started a project called the "Andy Warhol Project." Basically, we chose an iconic image (or any recognizable image, really) to make four paintings of using different colors.  I chose my personal idol, my dog Maddy.

First step was to create a stencil of the image.  This was done by tracing the image onto tracing paper like so:

Once the stencil is made, you then have to turn it over and trace the lines on the back of the tracing paper with a graphite pencil.  This is so when you retrace your image on the front side, the graphite on the back is pressed onto your final copy.

Then once you're completely sick of drawing the image, you get to turn it over and trace it again!  Which, in this case, was four more times.

And what feels like 500 hours later, you have successfully made four prints of your image.
Side note: The easier way of doing this is using a light box and just tracing the image onto your final paper.  But who wants to do things the easy way?

After we made our prints, we finally got to choose our colors.  For this project, we created color combinations using our color wheel (above).  We are making one painting with three colors that form a triangle on the wheel (I chose yellow-green, blue-violet and red-orange), colors that form a rectangle (blue, yellow-orange, violet and orange), colors that form a square (haven't decided) and one more with another square or rectangle combo.  So far I've painted the triangle (left) and the first rectangle (right):

All complaining aside, the tediousness of working with gouache and making grids and tracing stencils pays off when you see the final result.  Just two more to go!

In Figure Drawing, we have been studying the anatomical structure of the body (I don't think I could love this class more).  Our first project was to draw the skeleton inside the model while they posed for us.  First, we practiced with a skeleton by itself:

Then we had a model come in and we drew their contour.  Our teacher then set up a skeleton in the same pose and we quickly sketched it inside the model's contour.  This was my rough sketch on the first day.  Notice the fourteen ribs instead of the realistic twenty.  Had to change that later...

Later, we had to render the skeleton with realistic shading.  However, no one has a skeleton lying around at home, so we had to make due with the images in the book "Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist" by Stephen Rodgers Peck.  It has great images of body parts, but typically only from one side of the body, so if you don't have a scanner, you had to flip the images in your mind.  Mind blowing.
So after three nights of staying up til 1 or 2am drawing this...

 ...I finally finished it.  I only wish I didn't have other classes to worry about (Spanish Colonial art history from the 16th-18th century, I'm lookin' at you) so I could have worked on this without being sleep deprived.

Next up, the muscle system:
30 min sketch in class

I think since I'm doing a project called the "Andy Warhol project," I should talk about him this time.  I'm probably no longer allowed to consider myself an artist after saying this, but I've never really been interested in Warhol.  After reading about his work though, it's pretty fitting that I don't feel anything when I look at his art, because that was the point.  Warhol was a leading figure in the Pop Art movement, and he was obsessed with the idea that if you repeat an image enough times, the viewer eventually becomes desensitized to the subject matter.  In order to emphasize this, he wouldn't maintain his screen printer throughout a piece, making each print muddier than the first.  It's ironic that the media has shown his images more times than I've ever seen an artist's work in the media.  Not only is the subject meaningless, but now his artwork feels meaningless.  It's like he's proven a meta-point within a point....

Marilyn, from the Celebrity Series, 1967
Electric Chair, 1971
Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962
Jackie-O, from the Celebrity Series, 1967
Car Crash, from the Death and Disasters Series, 1963
Grevy's Zebra, from the Endangered Species Portfolio, 1983

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Doodles and Anatomy

I don't have much art to show this week, other than figure drawing sketches.  But after the first two weeks of school, I have accumulated some boredom doodles:
Spanish Colonial Art History 16-18c
Color Theory
sitting alone on campus for hours

And so far, Figure Drawing is the class that has kept my attention the longest.  And it's NOT because of the naked people!  Or maybe it is, I'm not sure.

10 minute - mass gesture with vine charcoal
20 minute - charcoal stick
20 minute - charcoal stick

Finally, I have Tumblr to thank, yet again, for introducing me to this strange and morbid scientific illustrator, Jacques Fabien Gautier d'Agoty.  Gautier was a French painter and engraver during the 18th century, and he is most famous for helping develop the color printing process/producing the first anatomy book printed in color.  Aside from that contribution, however, he had some extremely false scientific theories; like that the sun's rays were the source of planetary motion, thunder, volcanoes and earthquakes.  But regardless, his anatomical illustrations of skinned humans in classical poses are eerily aesthetically pleasing. (Warning: These illustrations are prettyyyy graphic)
"The Flayed Angel", 1746
Anatomy of the Parts of a Man and a Woman, 1773
Two Heads, from the Myology publication, 1746
Anatomic Exhibition of the Organs of Senses, 1775
Pregnant Woman with Fetus Visible

ps. If any of you are interested, and have a Tumblr account, you should follow this scientific illustration blog.  It is great.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


After two long weeks of lab work and one INTENSE first week of classes, I have finally wound down enough to post in here again.  This semester I'm signed up for two studio classes - Figure Drawing I and Color Theory.  So far in Color Theory we have only watched a movie about the glassblower Dale Chihuly, and all I have to say about his work is "HOW"
Cadmium Yellow Basket Set with Dark Oxblood Lip Wraps, 1993
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Chandelier, 2004
 Venetians, 1990

Pink and Opal Seaform Set, 1981
Putti in Nest Kissing Opalescent Hummingbird, 1999
Reed Green Persian Set with Scarlet Lip Wrap, 2000
Shell Pink Basket Set with Oxblood Wraps, 1995
Two Opalescent Putti in Tree with Lovely Fairy-Wrens, 1999

And I drew from my first ever live nude model in my figure drawing class last Thursday.  It was surprisingly not awkward, which is a relief because this class is 2 1/2 hours long.  But I am so happy I'm finally taking this class.  Drawing from life is a huge part of scientific illustration, and it's something I haven't had much experience with.  And since live models can't stay in the same position for hours, no perfectionist tendencies are allowed.  We'll see how that goes..

These are just a couple sketches I made in my class.  We focused on gestural drawings, starting from ten seconds and going up to ten minutes.  These were drawn on 18"x24" newsprint with a stick of charcoal.
10 seconds
30 seconds (left) and 1 minute (right)
3 minutes
Kind of added a couple vertebrae to her backbone in that last one, but if Ingres can do it it's fine, right?

5 minutes
5 minutes
10 minutes
And finally, I wanted to leave on this note.  I'm sure everyone in the world has already seen this, but it's good enough to look at a second time.  Or third or fourth or twentieth time.  This is the beautiful restoration of a 19th century Spanish fresco done by a lovely elderly woman who frequented the church that this piece resided in.  Apparently this woman was unhappy with the rate of the restoration project, so she took it upon herself to finish the job, and it resulted with what BBC says looks like a "crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic."  But this destruction of an antique fresco has proven to be beneficial, as it has attracted thousands of tourists and has even needed to be roped off and watched by security guards.  I would pay big bucks to see her restoration of the Sistine Chapel.
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) restored into Ecce Mono (Behold the Monkey)