Monday, April 22, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Self-Portraits Intro, Words, Images and the haunted.

Here's a quote:
"I never took quite the same kind of photograph again. From that moment on I regarded the taking of a photograph as a personal act, as personal as the writing of a poem — deep and perilous, intellectual and beautiful. A photograph, or a grouping of them, would be as mysterious as this woman and as complicated as my own mind. I would never document anything. I would hope for luck, but I wouldn’t rely on it. I would hope not to diminish things." John Rosenthal

Reflecting on our discussion today and in conversation with Tanya and Erika.

We want to get closer to some straightforward skill and technique so we can ALL feel connected and confident in starting our final self-portraits - and even feel comfortable enough to break the rules of our own ideas of representation. We have decided to use canvas for our final work- Thanks K!

Next week we can just go over a few fun drawing tricks used to create the features of a face. We'll work on larger sheets of paper and let things get a bit cartooney (remember contour drawing is really just drawing the outline/shape of something). I will bring mirrors to look at different shapes on a face, and my cameras in case you want to use them as 'mirrors' for reference.

Please give the idea of 'reference material' some more thought.  You can equally well use books and images of other people for reference - here is a link to Gray's Anatomy Online that I do use often. Or try something from this link to images of facial expresisons, or Franz Xaver M.'s character heads.  I personally like to work from my own photos, even when I incorporate or appropriate the images of others.  I think it is important to be my own reference for representation because it empowers and somehow grounds my own vision and voice in my work-- this was what I wanted to challenge each of you to try in asking you to take your own photos -- You absolutely do not have to.   While a tree image from google, a drawing of a skull from the 1800's, or details from other peoples faces can help us learn about what things look like...using these in our work has a different meaning that partly belongs to it's origins as another's image, and doesn't teach us as much about our own skills and abilities to 're-present' versus something that is originally and uniquely ours to work out.  

Remember we have already decided that a self-portrait does not have to be your face. But drawing faces is still a good exercise and something to learn about in art.
Thank you to Tanya for keeping things real (and proximal)!   I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to work with the SCORE crew and learn so much from working with all of you.

And thinking about our reluctance to be photographed:
and there are often spiritual-ceremonial reasons where an object or event is sacred so it is considered profane(morally wrong) to take a picture.

I think maybe photo's do steal something of our soul or spirit by what they aren't - they are like the opposite of ghosts--the empty image without the animation.* Maybe that's why they make such good references to use as a short cut for observational drawing. Like still life or specimen jars, they help us objectify what we want to see - much less complicated than trying to look at a person in all their "livingness" and trying to get that down as if it were true or even as if I could ever capture You just by looking.  

We do talk about  "capturing a likeness' or "catching the essence" of a person in a portrait...suggesting there was something authentic - something of that person - in what was caught through representation. So for me making artwork,with photography, can be like a re-presentation or even a kind of re-animation of what might have been taken away in that process. It's about the possibilities of things that I want to claim. With that kind of thinking, what we choose to represent, and how we represent are really personal things, so looking at ourselves probably really needs the distancing filter of a concept, an idea, our charm, style or artifice. I think I find that a comfort, the challenge and the reward in making my own way in art. A camera can be a good filter. And without distancing ourselves by being artful about it, the meaning of a work is very immediate, intimate and even a little raw, and as such, can sometimes forget complexity and seem abrupt and too private to share. A splatter painting for example, is a distancing act: it's 'art' is the pretence to unconsidered actions of the painter that result in abstract expression.   

We are all so different, that's why we celebrate eachother's differences in our approaches and ideas to, in this case, making things, even while it is also very helpful to look at how others found answers before us.

Having said all that, and all our feelings aside, I feel artmaking is a celebration of trying and claiming the sound of our own voices. And while it can be a constructive way to reveal, surprisingly, what you're feeling and thinking, it is in the opportunities artmaking provides for capturing complexity and an essence of sharing something beyond words or images - resisting the clear explanation and yet still presenting itself, that gives us value in making representations - however they haunt us with their possibilities.

More on our final project next class then.
Thanks for today's learning.

*Sketchbooks: Maybe photos create their own ghosts, and if so, I wonder where and how they show themselves? Did photography invent ghosts?  A random portrait image from a magazine and a drawing of the ghost it caused would be a neat sketchbook exercise... or even drawings of some objects this ghost may haunt, and think about reasons why.
Also: Try to find examples of humourous, unusual or artful portraits on google images and then try to imagine what the person looks like in real-life. If you want to, you can try to describe this real-life in words.

Friday, April 12, 2013

For next week: April 17

You need to take a minimum of 3 photos of your face for next studio.  Include your whole head in each shot because we can always crop(zoom in) later. Each shot should be from a different and interesting(to you!) angle.  Think exaggeration, challenging angles, and think about unique points of view for these photo portraits as they are your reference and inspiration for a final portrait. We can do these on paper but I'll bring in some ideas for other options and we can talk about these next week.

Added some links to artists - please have a look. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Splatter Action

We'll have to take a picture of the Splatter looks amazing. Thank you for taking up the project with such enthusiasm and calm restraint - due to the weather we worked inside. Did you notice that you each approached even something so straightforward as splatter painting in your own unique ways.  I see interesting and unique processes in artmaking emerge from each of you each time we create work.

Thank you for a fun morning.

** I mentioned to Tanya that each of you need to take a minimum of 3 photos of your face. I suggest you try to include your whole head in each shot because we can always crop(zoom in) later. Each shot should be from a different and interesting(to you!) angle.  We will use these to create our portraits.  Think exaggeration, challenging angles, and think about unique points of view for your final portraits and these photo portraits.


Sketchbooks-Critique: We started the class talking about our work from last week. I think we can do that again next week with those of you who were missing yesterday, and for any of you who may have more to share about your sculpture or from your sketch books.  To share, think of something you like about,or feel you accomplished in your work, and also something interesting you find in someone else's.

Was thinking we should probably do one more big collaboration before we're done. Let me know if you have any ideas or interest in that, and what you think would work well as a group project. If you would like to try another "action painting", with more physical techniques(and splatter too), let me know and we can try again on a clearer day. This doesn't have to be the collaboration work. Please look up the term "action painting".

I also have a sense from last class that we could really combine our action painting experience with our portraits in meaningful ways...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Plaster Bodies and the immediacy of expression

Our 'character heads' went well last week. Some cracked, and we need to put some glue in those cracks to keep them together. But really excited seeing how you painted them and went with the 'happy accidents' of it.
 We decided to make bodies for them this past week using simple armatures and plaster bandage.  Some of you created bases (you can still do that, or add appendages, if you need or want to, as I have left extra bandage for you). Bases can be integral(part of ) or discrete(meaning sort of separate) parts of your sculpture - but they always tell part of the story of a work.  Look at eachother's work and think about the different ways you each decided to give a ground to your characters.
We have two new friends in our group, and it was great to meet the two E's. You have created a kind atmosphere in your class that is welcoming and open. It's fun when others drop by and join in the making as well.
Looking forward to seeing how these turn out. I like the contrast of the white plaster with the painted heads, and really enjoy how very differently, and characteristically, your bodies each connect to the features - the personalities - of your character heads.

**We are entering into our "proper" self-portrait exercises and final 'project'...but I feel like we should try to understand what that means a little more laterally. I mentioned to Tanya last week that we might try to do something in your sad and lonely courtyard at GA. I know you have a graffiti artist coming in later in the year - and I wish much inspirational graffiti for that little space!! - but I thought we could try to do a big action painting together out there.

Jackson Pollock is a very famous(does that mean rich?) American artist known for this way of painting. I'll post a link to a movie clip and some examples.  If we really stretch some of our thinking and keep in mind the role art can play in self-expression, and the role of self-portrait as self-representation - some really interesting things might happen using big and small brushes and our whole bodies actions out in the courtyard to paint together.

Sketchbooks:  Draw your characters, draw where they might live or come from or hang out or do. Do they levitate, run, surf, stand at the ready, find themselves in unusual, disturbing or awestruck situations?

Here are our heads

It was a very mindful and organic kind of process working with the clay.
Everyone really felt at ease, creating really interesting, expressive faces...creature or otherwise.
We used self--hardening clay and skewers on styro balls to create our faces, thinking of them as dimensional/sculptural objects with expression that reflected their character in some way. We talked briefly about Franz Xaver Messerschmidt and looked at pictures of his work.
Here is our work in photos before you painted:
Looking forward to seeing how you decide to paint them.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Here are some ideas...

Our "moodscapes" prompt became a study in colour and collage. These are
abstract and colourful compositions.
Sketchbooks: Tanya mentioned that she felt more of a connection to the work, in a way, because she was using her own images. So, looking at your own work, can you notice how you have connected to your photographs through what you chose to emphasize with collage or colour choices, or the use of technique? Can this thinking lead you into further ideas for your sketchbooks?