For this art unit, we were trying to find out where good ideas come from and also explore. We had to create a series of compositions relating to one chosen theme and one of the pieces had to include some sort of pattern.
Firstly, we chose a couple of themes and brainstormed about our chosen topics. We also had to research pictures, artists and anything else related to our theme. After this, we continued researching artists, styles, mediums and cultural influences to include in our pieces.
Out of the two themes we initially brainstormed, we had to research one and explore it in depth. I chose conflict and beauty, however in the end went with beauty because I felt that beauty encompasses conflict as well as a broader range of other areas and also because I thought I could relate to beauty more than I could to conflict, which would make my work more personal and creative.
In my research book (which can be seen here), I tried to document all sorts of random pictures I found while browsing books or the internet. I then wrote down different aspects of the works that I liked or disliked, or simply commented on the work. I also researched different cultural influences. for example, I started off by researching Turkish art (for instance the traditional, arabesque and ottoman patterns used in the pottery, tapestries or other decorations) because I used to live in Istanbul, so I felt a personal connection to the culture. I also researched Japanese art (and patterns used in traditional dress, lacquer-wear, etc) given I currently live in Japan. Finally, I researched the Russian matryoshka dolls, as I was interested in these and used to play with them as a kid, so I could personally relate. As for artists, I researched several different ones such as Xiaogang, Nara, Moriyama, Klimt, Uekawa and Berber. In my work you can see influences from some of these… I also contacted Canan Berber directly and got to learn a bit about her art and inspirations, mediums as well as artistic process. This helped me to realise better where I can get my inspiration and also helped me consider different ways of personalising my art. For movements, I researched mainly art nouveau because I did not know much about it, liked the arabesque and decorative side of it and also because it incorporated pattern often. I did not really research mediums in depth, which I think I could have done next time to improve my work, instead of blindly approaching my pieces without having practiced or familiarised myself with the medium. Finally, throughout my research I thought about what beauty means to me and considered the positive and negative aspects of the theme and how I could convey this through my art.
The first piece I made was a large sized acrylic painting of a head being fished out by a fishing hook (drawn with ink pen).
For this piece, I used a simple harmonious cold colour scheme that comprised of pastel hues: baby blue,purple,pink,peach, and of course, white black and grey. The features and head are enlarged, disproportioned and centred on the page, with the fishing line on the right third line. The eyes are also located on the bottom third of the centre division.
The message I was trying to convey in this piece was: identity and how by searching for perfection and to conform with norms, people can sometimes lose their own identity. I was also trying to communicate the ‘dangers of fishing for compliments’. By choosing to have the person’s mouth and hair omitted, the identity remains anonymous so the piece becomes less of a specific portrait and more of a message.
The missing mouth also represents how the person’s voice has been silenced by trying to fit in. The blank
background represents loss and dullness. The enlarged head also shows how the compliments have inflated the mind of the subject. The hook in the eye represents how the person is still feeling pain, yet can;t show it because they’ve no mouth. The fact that the hook is black creates a contrast with the pastel colour scheme, which bring focus to it and makes it seem more ominous and precise.
To achieve the blends of colour and shading used in my composition, I created my own acrylic colours and blended them on the paper using my fingers, as opposed to a paint brush. I also used water to help everything mix together. I think this created a unique texture that along with the purple shading and non-realistic face helped to add to the surrealist feeling of the piece.
I this piece, I particularly inspired myself from Yoshimoto Nara and his non-realistic style as well as light colour schemes and large heads.
The second piece I made was a very small (1/8 of A4 paper) charcoal monochromatic portrait of a person looking out a window. The small size and anonymous person of the piece once again deals with identity and shows how I find beauty in simplicity.
The piece cropped the top of the person’s head and many of her features were blocked by a scarf.
I think the best part of this piece is the nose, because I built up the shading slowly and it was detailed. The weaknesses here are that I rushed too much with the shading and applied too much pressure on the pencil,
which instead of gradually darkening the region, actually created a shiny and glossy finish that was then hard to erase, blend, modify, etc. Next time I work with charcoal, I would want to remind myself to work slowly and gradually build up.
The third piece I made was on a large cork board I found at my house. The board made an interesting background texture,
a little similar to rice or sand, which connected a bot to the Japanese influence of the piece. I drew three small heads of ‘maiko’s and then used patterned paper stuck on to the board to create their bodies (kimonos). The
maiko were very small and only occupied the bottom left section of the frame. I chose to leave a lot of negative space because I thought it might be interesting to experiment with the amount of negative space and the mood it gives. The small size made the maiko seem simpler, more elegant and fragile. It also made then seem more distant and mysterious. This was effective at conveying the message of beauty in simplicity and also beauty in cultures. To improve this piece next time, I would like to be more precise when drawing the maiko heads and deviated less with my pen to create smoother contours and less of a messy look. I would also like to make sure the maiko’s bodies were all symmetrical, as this would have fit better with the whole piece. It would also be interesting to experiment with different ways of creating the piece. For instance, using fabric or dyed rice grains to make the kimonos or using different backgrounds.
Next, I made a patterned piece that had no negative space at all. I used a monochromatic colour scheme with sharpie pens and at the end added a touch of blue with highlighter to create contrast and focus. In this piece, two heads can be seen, one upside down. I was trying to convey the themes of identity and self-image (the two circles with the heads are like mirrors and the patterns represent the different parts of someone’s personality. The blue highlighter shows how sometimes the personality is less looked at.
As a 5th piece, I made two works focussing and exploring eyes. I made a pattern with eye shapes and swirls in black sharpie and then added contrasting elements in the centre such as a blue eye or a pink contour. These pieces represent the visual aspect of beauty and how beauty is a very subjective and visually influenced thing. To improve these pieces, I would maybe like to experiment with different colours and maybe even incorporating typography to make it more interesting and specify a message.
Finally, I made a small playful piece. It is an optical illusion that has an image on either side. When you wind it up and twist it, the images come together and form one image. I drew a girl holding balloons to represent happy aspects of my theme (balloons are a symbol of happiness and youth is a symbol of innocence.) I brought this out using bright colours and soft coloured pencil shading. The piece although mostly happy also had a more serious side: By having an optical illusion instead of a simple picture, the balloons now also represent how the girl is reaching for beauty but can never really have it and that any happiness is actually fake.
In conclusion, I think this unit really challenged me to explore different things and developed my research and application skills in art. I also learnt that good ideas come from a variety of places and had fun exploring art more freely than in any other past units. In the future, I would like to explore different mediums such as collage,digital, sculpture and photography and experiment with different styles, for instance abstract.
Take a look at some of my classmates’ work here.