Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A-Painting-A-Day: Taking Stock So Far

I'd love to be able to say that it was my intention all along to do a big end of month summary of this Painting-A-Day exercise - but the truth is I've been so caught up making art that I just haven't had a chance to update this blog.

The positive of this is that it means the month is going really well. There have been a few changes to the Painting-A-Day "rules" - when you're making it up as you're going along, this is not surprising! First of all, it doesn't have to be a painting. In fact it doesn't absolutely have to be 2-D, although I have tried to stick to this in the main. However, I think that all but 2 works do include paint! Secondly, the daily was never really realistic, unless I wanted to make all the works very spontaneous and quick. Instead I have gone for at least 4 per week and made it to 5 once. By taking it a little more slowly, I think I can get some good "starters" going, things I can return to and look at developing in the future. It also gives me a chance to try out a few different techniques I've thought of or read about in the past 12 months. So the collage above shows pictures of all the works created so far.

Week 1

The first week I made four works, two collages and two mixed media drawings. None of these really work but I did try out some new techniques, including sgraffito using wax pastels and Jonathon Talbot transfer technique which I've mentioned in earlier posts. I've been focussing on developing imagery that I may use in my masters work and there are lots of "bits" that I think I can work with here.

The big disappointment for me was the sgraffito. It's a technique I'm familiar with in ceramics, and while it worked, I just didn't really like the effect - but that may be due to the multicoloured surface I created - you can see it here. It just looks lazy and messy to me.

Week 2

This week was my most productive so far. I was still in an exploratory mood despite my dissatisfaction with the sgraffito, so I tried my hand at a variety of media and techniques. The theme for Illustration Friday was buzz and anyone who knows my work knows I have included a reference to whipper snippers in a past installation - I HATE THEM! So I quickly got the idea to do a Noel MeKenna-esque painting of a whipper snipper in suburbia. I have to say that this was the most fun I've had all month. I had planned to work in acrylics, but was scared off by my total lack of experience with this type of project, so I opted for aquarelles. From a distance I am actually reasonably happy with the result, despite my obvious compositional goof - just don't examine the surface too closely, please!

I also experimented with two ideas I've had for a while. One is using tissue paper to sculpt close-ups of the body, inspired somewhat by Brent Harris - this is harder than it looks, and this one is not really working, but I will experiment further. The second idea shows lots of potential and I am really excited about it. I used Japanese paper dipped in wax to construct a box. I'm really happy with the translucency and am thinking this may be a way for me to work in 3-D other than with clay.

I also managed to complete my "start" for the Library project on Flickr and finished off with a photoshopped work for Artwords, seen in the previous post "graffitti". Okay I know that photoshop is not paint, but it is 2-D and for this one I did experiment with something I've not done before, as you'll see if you check out the post.

Week 3

All right, now we are in the home straight! Week 3.

This week I became almost totally wrapped up in the Library project. I started work on the start that Alex Itin from Brooklyn had sent me. I have to admit that it's been sitting here for 2 weeks and I've been looking at it, coming up with ideas, but terrified of actually making a mark. After all, this is another artist's work I'm about to work on. Eventually I bit the bullet and was able to find some images that I thought suited perfectly, including this map of the world from 1581 in the shape of a flower! (Alex's start included a butterfly with the words "Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan" on its wings.) You can see the completed collaboration on Alex's blog. I also polished off a book page Alex had included, a la the Humument.

By this stage I was really rolling on the collages and dieing to incorporate some of my anatomy imagery. I started a new book cover with the intention of posting it to the Library for collaboration, but was having so much fun that I ended up just continuing on with it myself!

I finished last week with a failed experiment. I had this idea to try a Jonathon Talbot transfer onto Japanese lace paper. Technically, it did work, but the effect is not what I had hoped. Not sure now what I hoped! Well, yes I am. I'm looking to express impermanence, but not in an old moth-eaten document kind-of-way, like this. I'm interested in change, transition. Hence the butterflies, life-cycles and so on. I think the faded effect of the transfer says more about this.

Well that brings us up to date. I am hoping the remaining 7 days will be just as productive. I think I should try to use this last week to experiment some more - then next month I can start to develop some of these ideas. I have booked my first trip to Melbourne to see my supervisor, Kevin White, in March. By then I need to have some solid progress to share.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Topic # 35 - Graffiti 3

For this week's Artwords challenge I have taken a small section of a photo and worked with it in Photoshop to create a totally different digital art work. This is the first time I've done this, rather than work with a photo using filters and adjustment levels to digitally "process" the image.

This is the original image with the subject's face blacked out as she was just someone in the street, and I don't want to invade anyone's privacy. For my piece I selected the large graffiti in white, the darker graffiti to the right of the woman's head and the blue patch of paint, presumably covering something obscene. I also chose the layers of chipped paint on the right hand bottom corner of the wall.

I moved all these components over into a new document and began to play. I knew I wanted softer colours because I wanted to reduce the harsh masculine look that I think graffiti has. In the end I came up with something I am reasonably happy with. My main criticism comes from the fact that I utilized the magic wand to choose sections of the image to then fill with colour. This tool is one of my favourites, except that it actually selects on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Even with some blur this is still visible to my eye, and other than actually going in to the areas with the paint brush, I don't know how to fix it. I am thinking of posting this over at the Photoshop Support Group on Flickr to see if anyone can help me out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Topic #34 - Begin


When I checked this week's challenge at Artwords I couldn't believe how well it fits with the art I am currently making. I have started off my month of daily paintings/collage/2D work quite well - it's the fourth of January and I am working on my third work. I have slightly altered the goal to allow for "mishaps" and am aiming for 5 works per week - I think this should be achievable and create enough focus without stressing me out.
The works have been focusing on the theme of transcience and impermanence which is the topic of my MFA. I've been collecting imagery for months now and am working with the cyclical nature of life. I have chosen two ways of depicting this: using butterflies and life-cycles and the lunar cycle.
This work incorporates a modification of Jonathon Talbot's transfer method using gloss gel medium, acrylic, wax pastel, Pitt's artists pens, sgraffito and collage. I must confess to a little digital jiggery-pokery...I wasn't happy with the composition of the original so I scanned it into Photoshop and "reorganised" the layout.
I learnt two valuable things from this work. First Talbot's method is really excellent for my purposes and secondly, I need to look at the sizing of my components. I am tending to make them medium sized - when they either need to be bigger, and fill the canvas more, or smaller. The re-working in PS basically consisted of adjusting the sizes of the different images.
I have titled my entry for Artwords "Begin=End=Begin" in recognition of the fact that beginnings are always associated with endings. To wipe the slate clean and start afresh, you have to let some things go if you going to have room for anything new. Sometimes these endings may be small and easy, and sometimes they can be massive and trigger a grief reaction. But to invert the proposition, any ending is also a beginning. We may grieve for the end of something we treasured, but at the same time we are being offered a new beginning. And a beginning should always be seen as an opportunity - so seize the day! Carpe Diem!