Thursday, January 26, 2017

Final Thoughts

This sketchbook assignment was really frustrating for me. Recreating an acrylic painting in a different medium (colored pencils) was a huge challenge, as it was difficult to get the same quality of lines and shading with such a vastly different medium. In the end I think this assignment really taught me more about the differences between mediums as well as how to look at things comparatively in order to recreate artwork as accurately as possible. 

The pre-instructional portrait was really fun for me, as I really enjoy drawing portraits especially in a drawn medium like charcoal. It was the most interesting to see how I improved between my pre-instructional and post-instructional portraits. 

I really loved working on our Wolf Kahn inspired paintings. I don't usually use acrylic paint so it was fun to work with a medium that I'm less familiar with. It was also a great experience using unrealistic, surreal colors in a painting, as I think it helped prepare me for simular concepts in later work.

Work of Art that I am the most proud of...

Out of all of our in class work, I am the most proud of this still life. Still life work is usually not my preferred subject, since it's not as engaging or interesting to me as portraits or landscape is, but I feel like this project really helped improve my understanding of light, shadow, and how to properly include a range of values in my artwork. The skills that I learned while working on this drawing have really stuck with me, and I think I'll be able to better employ them in future artwork because of it.

Unsung Hero Painting: Meva Mikusz

This project has not only provided me with a huge challenge that truly tests my artistic ability, but it has given me the chance to learn about the experience of someone in history who was so similar yet so vastly different from myself. Throughout this entire project, I have hit many roadblocks that I have been forced to overcome, and I am confident in saying that I have grown as an artist and as a person as a result of this work.

The first challenge that I faced was in the selection of my subject for this project. As I was sifting through the database of unsung heros on the LMC website, it was difficult for me to find someone that really resonated with me. While every story I read was incredible, there was none that really inspired me. When I came across the story of Meva Mikusz, I was intrigued. Meva was a fifteen-year-old Polish girl who rescued and raised two-year-old Inka from the Czortkow Ghetto during WWII. Her story struck me because even though we were so close in age, that was about the only thing we had in common. Her experiences and the danger she faced were such a stark contrast to my life today, I wanted to challenge myself in portraying her story in an engaging and dynamic way that would make it easier for kids my age to relate to her.

I spent a lot of time on the composition for this painting, which was the second roadblock. It took me a while to decide if I should go for a more literal portrayal of her story or a more metaphorical one. A common theme of Meva’s story is that of “taking someone under your wing”. Meva’s name means seagull, and the imagery of birds and feathers was appropriate. I eventually decided on a more literal composition, a portrait of the two girls accompanied by the silhouettes of Nazi soldiers in the background to represent the danger they faced. While the soldiers are present, they aren’t central to the painting, I wanted the focus to be on the two girls, who take up the majority of the canvas and are pictured holding each other. The love and compassion Meva expressed by putting herself in danger in order to save someone else was what impacted me the most, and I wanted that to be evident in the painting.

The biggest challenge I faced, by far, was executing the painting. I purposely chose a concept that would challenge me artistically, but the amount of elements included in the composition made it very difficult to finish the painting in the timeframe provided. It was a huge workload, and considering the fact that I’m a lot less experienced in the medium of acrylic paint than I am with graphite, it was definitely overwhelming at times. As the painting drew closer to completion, I found myself losing steam and becoming less inspired the longer it took. This was a project that meant a lot to me, and I was determined to finish it despite the fact that I was afraid of being unsatisfied with my work when it was finally completed. Being able to find the motivation to push through art block is a skill that this project really helped me improve, and I’d like to think that I’ve grown artistically because of it.

The impression that Meva’s story has left on me, as well as the process of creating such a challenging piece of work has really impacted me as a person. It’s not often that I’m driven to use a medium out of my comfort zone to this extent, and being able to not only complete the work, but to be satisfied with the finished project means a lot to me, and I hope that it shows in my painting.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

LMC Unsung Hero Planning

For our Unsung Hero painting, I'm motivated by the stories that involve one person sacrificing something or doing something incredibly dangerous for another person. Meva Mikusz motivates me visually because I can do a realistic portrait of her while still incorporating a lot of symbolism in order to better tell her story. 

I'm most likely going to pursue a literal, realistic portrait, but I will incorporate certain symbols like the star of David that Meva had to wear to infiltrate the Czortkow Ghetto, and feathers to represent the seagull analogy that is often used in her story. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Landscape Painting Inspired by Wolf Kahn

I learned several things about color and technique from this Wolf Kahn-inspired painting. The main thing being blending on the canvas itself instead of just on the pallet. This often helps the transitions between different shades look a lot smoother and add a lot more depth to the colors. I also learned about using the pallet knife to apply paint to large, smooth areas of color, and how using the edge of a flat brush can help you create very fine lines, which is useful for highlighting certain areas of color

In the original painting, Wolf Kahn uses a very light color pallet with lots of yellows, purples, and light greens. My pallet is a lot darker, and has a lot more contrast between the deep blues and warm, red tones. This pallet change makes the painting look a lot darker and more ominous, and while the composition of both paintings are rather simular, the deeper colors give the painting a drastically different look. Wolf Kahn's painting is peaceful, serene, while mine is a lot more foreboding and eerie. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Creating Depth in Landscape Paintings

Raymond Minnaar, 2015, no title

In this painting we can very clearly see how the artist created depth. The colors in the background are much more faded and light than the colors in the foreground, and the rocks in the immediate foreground point towards the center of the painting drawing the eyes further back. The rocks themselves, especially the ones connected in the middle, almost create a frame for the structure in the background, once again drawing the eyes deeper into the painting.

Albert Bierstadt, "Storm in the Mountains", 1870

There is a lot of depth in this painting by Albert Bierstadt, we can see that the colors get lighter and less saturated in the background while they remain dark and prominent in the foreground. There are also rays of light coming from the clouds which point at the mountains and the lake, this helps draw the eye to different parts of the painting and create depth.

Landscape Painting: A Brief History

While artists have been painting landscapes since ancient times, the modern landscape painting era really began in the Netherlands. Landscape, derived from the Dutch word "landschap", first became a popular subject for painting in the Netherlands among the protestant middle class. Other countries such as Italy and France had yet to accept landscape painting within the powerful art academies, and landscapes were only used as a scene for historical or religious paintings. In the late 1700s, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes changed how landscape painting was viewed in France by convincing the Academy that it should be an accepted form of artwork. In 1800 he published ElĂ©ments de perspective practique, a groundbreaking book on Landscape painting which eventually pushed the Academy to create a prize for "historical landscape" in 1817.