For our final exam, we were assigned to create a series of six drawings, which should have incorporate skills and techniques that we have been developing all semester, such as composition, use of materials, and the elements and principles of design. We were expected to work from observation, whether it be still-life or a digital photograph that we took ourselves. However, we were allowed to diverge from the observational aspect in order to allow for more creative aspects to be included.
My pieces were centered around anatomy and body parts. Originally, I wanted to do portraits of my friends but decided that I could push myself further by choosing a subject matter I am more unfamiliar with. In these pieces, I didn’t want to include every single aspect of anatomy, and so I decided that going for a more severed theme would allow room for me to play with compositions, as well as add a chaotic mood to the pieces. By viewing my work, you can see that there are many colors used within all the pieces, which was a choice made to increase the abstraction of the pieces, another area I wanted to challenge myself with.
For my first piece, I wanted the background to demonstrate the dynamics and rhythms that torsos are known for, while actually keeping the torsos static. The torsos were done on a paper bag and then collaged on top of the background, and while I believe that this is not my most successful piece, I am confident about the composition I utilized in it. Although the piece was, in my opinion, one of the simpler pieces in the entire final, I believe that my use of color and utilizing a border allowed for this piece to be successful in its own way.
My second piece, showing hands reaching for a moon, was a composition that I liked the most. The dynamic movement of the hands reaching further up moves the eye in that direction as well, contributing immensely to the overall composition. The moon in the sky adds contrast and disruption to the colorful aspect of the rest of the piece; this was done to represent the peace that the hands were grasping towards. The words in the background grow bigger and increase in darkness as they reach the bottom, which was a technique I utilized to add more contrast to the piece. The hands were done with color pencils, the background with spray paint, gouache, and Sharpie, and the moon was done with collage. The hands and the moon were done separately and later adhered to the final piece.
My third piece shows a distorted self-portrait in my bathroom at home, and the figure is instead replaced with multiple eyes. I wanted the viewer to feel uneasy when they observed this piece, as the message is that the figure feels like they are constantly being watched. The chaotic color scheme of the bathroom and the black and white scheme of the figure are also meant to convey this uneasiness. This piece was personally a challenge for me because it was the first time I properly worked with gouache. As my confidence with the medium grew, I had a better understanding of how layering colors with gouache to create different effects would impact the overall feel. The bathroom was done first as a blind contour, cleaned up, and then painted over. The figure in the middle was done with a pen, utilizing a little bit of blind contour as well.
My fourth piece shows ears on meat hooks, in front of a separated background in which the top half is made of a collage of newspaper clippings. The ears were done with gouache on separate paper and later adhered to the piece. However, the ears were a challenge to complete. I was trying to experiment with the versatility of gouache, and I am satisfied with the outcome, but learning how to manipulate the medium took more effort than anticipated. My placement of the ears could have been executed better, particularly on the left where two of the pieces overlap. As for the news clippings, they are from a Spanish newspaper, which I chose specifically because that is the language that I grew up around and heard the most.
My fifth piece is, in my opinion, my weakest piece of the six. For the base of the piece, I utilized gum wrappers and the packaging they come in. I decided that the background was too plain, therefore I attempted to tint it with ink, did not like the result, and later on added oil pastel to add more contrast. The mouths were done with ink pencils separately and later adhered to the piece. Once I added the mouths, I decided that the piece was still missing an element so I added text to the remaining spaces in the piece. If I were to do this piece again, I would vary the sizes in the mouths, make them much brighter than they are now, keep the text, and probably keep the gum wrappers and packaging the way they originally were.
My sixth piece was one that I had many challenges with, but I am satisfied with the result. I initially painted the legs with gouache and painted the background orange. However, compared to my other pieces it looked too plain and it didn’t convey the feel I wanted it to. I decided that the legs would look better with an outline, therefore I used Sharpie to create a thick border around the legs. I also added the bones sticking out of the top of the torso and at the ankles, however, it still did not tie the piece together as I intended. I finally decided that adding more concrete shapes would aid in the composition, and so I added red and yellow boxes to the background and decorated them with patterns. This piece was meant to portray movement and the dynamics of legs, and adding the patterns conveyed that sentiment more effectively.
Throughout this semester, I have definitely grown a lot. Not only have I had a lot of practice with my technical skills, but I was also introduced to new media that I have grown comfortable with. I grew as an artist, especially with this final project. I pushed myself and focused on subjects that were out of my comfort zone, and I did so using coloring and painting techniques that I am also not used to. While my theme did stress me out a bit since it was a lot and I had assignments for other classes to work on, I’m glad that I chose the theme I did.