Our last unit of grade 8 art has been quite short. We have studied ceramics and spent most of the unit creating our final piece.
My final cup
I have created a mug with quite an interesting design, I think. The whole cup has a sort of tilted theme, as I designed the lip to scoop down on one end. Also, the handle is placed so it bends around the side of the cup. For the inside of my cup, I have used a simple swirl pattern that appears in many works in everyday use. The colors on my cup also have a pattern, with a blue color scheme on the outside and a pattern of purple and green on the inside.
The interior of my cup
The process of creating the cup was quite long and required a lot of work. First, we did a bit of research by analyzing some ceramic works by other artists. After this we got straight into the planning stage of our cups, where we came up with a few different designs for the shape of cups. We then started working with the clay, first wedging it to get all of the air bubbles out. After slowly building up the walls of the cup and making sure the surfaces were even, our finalized forms were bisque fired in the electric kiln. It took me a while to get used to working with the clay, but this unit definitely helped me improve that. We then planned how we were going to glaze our cups, and from there the final product was on its way.
One difficulty I had during the unit was when we were just beginning to form our cups. Since we started working on it in one class and then didn’t come back to it until a week later, a lot of air got in contact with the clay, despite the fact that we had wrapped them in plastic bags. This meant that the clay got close to being bone dry, although luckily it had just enough water left in it for me to keep molding the clay. I also found the trimming of the cup quite difficult. The foot of my cup is still very rough, as the base has always been unsteady. One thing that did go very well was the scoring of my cup when I attached the handle. Because my handle was quite unusual, I expected it to be more difficult, but it stuck on very firmly.
I think that something very important when creating ceramics is time, as it is needed for several parts of the process. For example, you need enough time to apply underglaze to the piece. However, there are also certain steps where you need to keep working to make sure that the air doesn’t dry out the clay. I could have also improved in being more precise with the different steps, such as sanding the cup. Because of rough spots, bubbles appeared in the underglaze. I feel like a lot of the things I was limited to throughout the process were because of mistakes I had already made. In art, and specifically ceramics, it is important to have a strong idea of where you’re going with a project, because that way you can stay on the right track before it’s too late.
This unit was definitely successful in my opinion, as we haven’t had many 3D art units in the past. I really enjoyed creating my cup and I think that for the people whose cups exploded in the kiln, this unit acted as a lesson, and everyone got something out of it in the end. If there is one thing I would have preferred, it would have been spending more time on this unit.
In our most recent unit of art, we have been studying how emotions and stereotypes can affect the way someone acts, specifically in cartooning. Our unit question was What are stereotypes? and our significant concept was Stereotypes can be constructed and deconstructed. We first looked at examples of how stereotypes can be used to help define a character, and by the end of the unit we each created our own cartoon character for a font we were given.
My font was Bookman Old Style. Our challenge was to design a character that we thought embodied this typeface after doing research and going through a designing process. I took all the things I had listed down that I thought of for the font, and from there tried to use those ideas to come up with character traits. My first general ideas for my character were for him to be a wiry, grumpy man in his 50s-60s who was successful earlier in life but now has a bad job working in a library. I tried to show these things through not only his surroundings and clothing, but also his facial expressions and posture. As my brainstorming process changed and the designs for my final character came a long, a few things changed as well. Below is my final character:
One of the main strengths of my character design is I think how I showed the sadness through the man’s eyes. I think that the clothing and the office around him show that he is old-fashioned as well. One of the things I really found challenging and is definitely a weakness was being able to show his short-temper and age through exaggeration without making him seem completely angry. The fact that the lines had to be very precise when we put our designs into Adobe Illustrator also made things difficult.
Once we had designed our characters by hand and come up with a final option, we had to go through the process of digitizing it. We first scanned our drawings and inserted them into Adobe Illustrator. We then used the live trace tool to make the character look more like a cartoon, although there were often difficulties with lines being too thick or thin. We then had to use the live paint tool to color in our characters. I chose a color scheme that seemed quite dusty in a way, with many colors that I could associate with my character. One of my designs I did in completely black and white, which I liked too. I think something I could have improved throughout the process was to further experiment with the line of action. The line of action is the line that the character’s posture follows. For my character in the end I decided to keep him standing up straight, so that he would seem like a very strict person. My planning went very well though, as I think the way I organized my ideas worked well to guide me through the process. I had a few problems with the thickness of the lines in my eyes that I wish I could go back to improve, but I would have to re-draw my entire character design.
I think that during this entire process, the use of stereotypes helped me quite a bit. I used things that I had heard of in books and sometimes in movies to help me with how I portrayed my character. We were aware of the fine line between a stereotype and racism, but with my font I didn’t have many issues concerning that. This unit was unlike any we have done in art in the past, as it required the use of a specific application on the computer. I learned a lot about the differences between cartooning in comics and in other forms of media, and I enjoyed the project very much. It was a new experience to use art in this different way, and I thought this was very interesting and beneficial.
In our first unit of art this year, our main topic was abstract art. We spent a lot of time researching the history and meaning of abstract art, and how it can be created, as everything must be non-representational and non-objective. This means that nothing could look like a person or object, and made it very difficult to try to come up with an idea. We first did some research on different important people in the abstract expressionism movement of the 1940s, such as Jackson Pollock, who was famous for his technique of drip painting. We also did an analysis of the painting Chief by Franz Kline, and how the artist used the principles of art to create an interesting piece of art.
Franz Kline’s “Chief”
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Nika Vee: http://flickr.com/photos/nika/2916449059/%5B/caption%5D
When we got into the planning stage of our final artwork, we first drew some half-page sized plans in black and white to try to come up with a good general design. We then tried out that design with paint to see if it would work with that medium. After we decided we were happy with that, we had to figure out how we had used each of the principles of art in our brainstorms. Below I have inserted an image of the page in my sketchbook where I created these plans:
There was still one more step to our plan. We needed to create several small thumbnail pictures of our design experimenting with different colors and mediums. I also decided to change some parts of my drawing so that all the lines were geometric instead of having organic lines and shapes through the middle to keep it unified. After trying out four different designs with both colored pencil and oil pastel, I decided on my last design. This was in colored pencil with a triad color scheme: red, blue and yellow.
The next step was to start on my final painting. I made a few small changes to my design as I was doing this, but for the most part I just created a larger replica of my design using paint. To keep the lines I wanted straight as much so as possible, I covered those areas with masking tape and then painted around them. Unfortunately, when I removed the tape it took off some of the paper with it, but then I realized this would create texture, which was one of the elements of art I was lacking in. I used this to my advantage and painted over the rough surface.
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My final abstract painting
I got quite a bit of feedback from my peers and my teacher during the process of creating this artwork that really helped me make some important decisions. Even in the planning stage, I at first wanted to create my final painting in just black and white, but then several people said that they thought it looked good with the different colors instead. I also asked different people where they thought the main focal point of my work was, and was glad to hear that they all agreed with me that it was the yellow shape on the right side of the painting. After this, my teacher suggested I try to do something to make the focal point extend to the rest of the painting, which is when I decided on the yellow lines coming out from the corners.
In general I am quite proud of my work, especially because I did not have that much time to work on it, but there are definitely mistakes I made and things I could improve on. For example, I made a mistake with two of the yellow lines going through the middle of the painting. I had meant for them to overlap the blue line instead of the other way around, but I noticed this too late. Because the blue overlaps the yellow, it seems as if this is overpowering the other, which is completely not what I was intending to do. The point was to have the yellow overpowering to show how the focal point extended through the rest of the artwork.
I think I could have worked on my emphasis as well. This could have been improved through more texture, although I was trying to keep most of the painting very exact and orderly at the beginning. It turned out to be quite a mixture of all these things, which I like, I just think that it would have been interesting to see where else it could have gone.
Throughout the course of this unit, I have learned a lot more than I knew before about abstract art, and I am quite happy we had it, even if we missed several classes due to typhoons and things of the sort. In conclusion, I am very proud of my work, but I also wish I could have had more time to try out different things such as larger paper, different textures, or perhaps even a completely different color scheme or medium.