Friday, March 22, 2013

"Wild Beasts"

Before break, my Figure Drawing class took a little field-trip to Utrecht for an extravagent shopping spree (this was the first time I've been allowed to use my lab fee for an art class on my own supplies... better late than never).  We had $45 to spend, and the only requirement was to leave the store with five large sheets of paper for our final projects.  After that we got ta go crazy!  With my spare cash, I purchased a new set of micron pens, some pencils, a color ink wash set, and a huge piece of watercolor paper (which is more expensive than I would ever feel comfortable paying for out of my own pocket).  Even though this money did technically come out of my pocket at one point, it still felt like I had won the Utrecht lotto, and I spent without guilt.

We also had free reign over what kind of paper we bought, so aside from my watercolor paper, I got cream, bright red, olive green, orangy-cream, and blueish-gray paper.  I love this class!!!  From here on out, we are working on 2-3 day long poses, and for our first pose I decided to use the cream color paper and color pencils (which we finished this week).  I took a bunch of very poor quality pictures on my phone along the way, so here is a blurry progression of my first full figure color study:
progression of Project1 - color pencil on cream paper (Day1-2)
Final Project1 - color pencil on cream paper (Day2)

Our teacher set up a very colorful stage with purple drapes and red and yellow lights, which made it a lot easier (and more interesting) to apply color this time.  By the way, if any of you want to get into color pencils, or if you despise color pencils, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND trying out the brand "Koh-i-noor" woodless pencils.  I bought their 24pk for this class, and I have officially fallen in love with them.

Of course, I can't talk about color in this post without talking about the Fauves.  Fauvism was an avant-garde movement that developed in Paris during the early twentieth century lead by Henri Matisse.  The Fauves (meaning "Wild Beasts" in French) earned their name by the untamed use of color and form in their artwork.  Critics saw their work as child-like, brutal, and even "violent" towards the traditional idea of high art.  While their work was not favored by many, Matisse believed he was creating a new realm for artists to explore.  To him, the main purpose behind art was the physical act of creating something, and traditional realism prevented artists from understanding the true nature of color and form.  To others though, the deformation of form in the Fauves' work was ugly, and even insulting in the cases of Matisse's portraits of his wife (below).  How could you paint your own wife like that?  But Matisse didn't see himself as painting his wife, or a person, or a thing.  He said, "Above all I do not create a woman, I make a picture."  I really love this quote, because it addresses the quality of art that is and always will be difficult to explain to people - the fact that art can be made just because.  There was no hidden symbolism, or historical meaning, or religious motive behind Matisse's art.  He painted a green stripe down his wife's face because he wanted to make something new, and the possibility of creating something that doesn't exist is what gives life to art.

Sorry for the long, gushy novel on Fauvism.  But out of all the historical art movements I've learned about, Fauvism is the first one that I felt really captured the essence of painting, or drawing, or whatever.  Too bad you can't just say you made something "because you liked it" when you explain your art to people, and get paid for it.
Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Line), Henri Matisse, 1905
Still Life with Vegetables, Henri Matisse, 1905, via MET museum
Blue Nude (Souvenier de Biskra), Henri Matisse, 1907
Fishing Boats, Collioure, Andre Derain, 1905, via MET museum
The Joy of Life (Bonheur de vivre), Henri Matisse, 1905

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Project Doodle (Day43-57)

Hello again, it feels like years since I've posted in here.  Every time I give an update on this daily project, I seem to increase the number of doodles I am behind on, and this time is no exception.  This past week I reached an all time low, being a total of 30 doodles behind schedule.  At this rate, I predict I will be infinite doodles short by the end of the year.  But now that school is over for a week (Spring Break, WOOO!), I can finally forget about the anxiety of graduation and life and focus on art.

Instead of starting with an ambiguous blob of highlighter, I decided to start these doodles with one line or shape.  This first set started with five horizontal lines down the page, which became ground levels for scenes I thought up.  And without intending it, the theme of these scenes became "Ways to Escape from Monsters."  I also started up the French translation again (aww ouiiii).
Day43-57 - "Ways to Escape from Monsters"
Day43 - courir (run)
Day44 - nager (swim)
Day45 - entasser (squeeze)
Day46 - sautiller (jump)
Day47 - marcher (walk)

 This second set started out with a circle:
Day48-52 - "Things Derived from a Circle"
Day48 - obese "How did this happen."
Day49 - joli (adorable)
Day50 - cache (hidden)
"Joe, where are you?! We need to talk!!!"
Day51 - graviter (gravitate)
Day52 - geant (giant)

And this last set started with a "V":
Day53-57 - "Things Derived from a V"
Day53 - montagnes (mountains)
Day54 - dentiste (dentist)
Day55 - chat-ninja (ninja-cat)
Day56 - globe oculaire (eyeball)
Day57 - OVNI (UFO)

So, a while ago I stumbled upon some awesome blogs that are very relevant to this daily project, and now I finally have time to talk about them!  This first one is a blog centered around people who have actually finished their yearlong daily project goals, called Make Something 365 & Get Unstuck.  I've been following it for a couple months now, and it's definitely been a helpful motivator for me.  Each submission includes a short interview about their project and how it's changed them and so on.  And it's not just art projects.  People have done things with photography, video, even food.  So if any of you are interested in challenging your brain every day, you should definitely look at this blog for inspiration.  Also, apparently Blogger is the go-to blogging site to use when you have a yearlong project.  EVERYONE uses Blogger.

Probably my favorite daily project I've come across is this one by Klari Reis, called The Daily Dish 2013.  Every day she makes a piece of art out of colored ink in a petri and gives it an interesting title.

Snow White
Mean Girls
A Case of the Mondays
Underwater Pen Marks
Uma Thurman

I really love how simple and spontaneous her project is.  And if any of you just want to see something pretty every day, you should totally follow this blog.

More of her art can be seen here on her official website.

Color Portraits and Auklet (Part3)

Welp, it's been a while (one month to be exact).  A lot has been going on, so I'll just start off with my Figure Drawing class.  We worked with conte on cream paper a few more days after the first full figure study.  I honestly hated the first one I made, but looking at them all in a row, I think I made some progress by the end!
Conte on cream paper study (1)
Conte on cream paper study (2)
Conte on gray paper study (3)
This model was actually the same model from the first study.  Yep, big difference.

After the conte studies, we moved on to small portraits on different color paper.  For my first one, I did what I'm used to and drew it with black and white charcoal.  But after that, my teacher encouraged us to expand into color, so I took a leap and used chalk pastels.  I've used chalk pastels before, so I thought "Hey! This'll be easy!"  No.  Maybe it's just me, but rendering skin tone/shadows realistically without using black and white makes my brain hurt.  In my second portrait, I actually tried using grays to make shadows in her face (first try on the left in the Portrait2 picture below), but it just made her skin look like she dipped her face in soot.  So I asked my teacher for help and he told me to combine complimentary colors (red and green are the best for skin tones) to create neutral shadows.  I guess I should have remembered that from Color Theory...

He also gave me a book of Lucian Freud's paintings, who was a god among men when it came to figure painting.  You will rarely see black in his figures.  Instead, he used variations of brownish yellows, reds and greens to create shading, and small amounts of pure white to emphasize important highlights.  Throughout all of my art classes, I've learned that if you're trying to render something realistically, black is a no-no.  Blacks and grays are huge color absorbers, and overusing them can quickly desaturate your work.  So I'm working on retraining my brain to see shadows as colors rather than black and white.  For now I can only hope that one day I will understand color as well as Lucian Freud.
Girl with White Dog - Lucian Freud, 1950-51, oil on canvas
(via The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth)
Standing by the Rags - Lucian Freud, 1988-89, oil on canvas
(via The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth)
Reflection, Self-portrait - Lucian Freud, 1985, oil on canvas
(via The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth)

Here are my portraits:
Portrait1 - black and white charcoal on gray paper
Portrait2 - chalk pastels on gray paper (first try - left, final - right)
Portrait3 - chalk pastels on blue paper (first try - left, second try - right)
Portrait3 - chalk pastels on blue paper (final)
My second attempt at color went a lot better.  And if any of you want a really good set of chalk pastels, I bought the Faber-Castell 48 pack for this class, and they're totally worth it.

Finally, surprise update: Remember the Auklets???  I couple weeks ago I decided to pull it out of its dusty corner and start working on it again, and I'm ALMOST done.  Yes it's been over half a year, but uhh better late than never... I guess.  I hope that bringing this back into public view will force me to finally complete it:
Whiskered Auklet Mug Shot (so close!)