Nov. 30th, we had another walk around critique and thus, I got no work done…in each piece we were to observe strengths, the artist’s concept, and additional comments about such things as what to resolve, reactions, suggestions, etc. while the artist remained silent, only commenting on her piece once everyone’s input was made.
Today, December 1st, was our LAST critique before our final presentations, and BOY did I have a LOT left undone in my series! I admit I was not motivated to even stand up for critique (0 hours of sleep the night before), and felt VERY discouraged by the fact that most of my classmates were either finished or only a few steps away from their goals: Lexis’s floating castle land-cityscape was absolutely PHENOMENAL; Gala’s giant, colorful skulls’n’bones abstract seemed like it should be hung in a museum, as is, if we could figure out which direction to prop it. There was Erica’s progressive landscape triptych (I hate forgetting that word. Triptych. Yeah.) with cosmic skies, peg people and a mountain modeled from a skull, as well as Devin’s ever-evolving 3x 5 ft. (maybe exaggerated but not by much) land-seascape–now featuring obscure brown mountains and floating lily islands, as well as Maria’s Cirque de Marins poster and Hannon’s Soviet Circus ad. Mercedez, Suzy and Victoria had collaborated to make these amazing videos of their bodies interacting with paint and experimenting with mattress covers, fabric, and camera lenses. Ellie had completed all these adorable, vibrant delicate watercolor studies of fruits and vegetables that covered her table, while Emily made a diaragmic tropical storm scene, and Layla was painting her reflection from various shiny objects. I felt, in a word, inadequate–especially since I hadn’t put in nearly enough time, and not a single piece of my series was complete.
Thankfully, my classmates are not nearly as brutal to me than I am in critiquing myself, and I was astonished by several comments, especially that I could be considered finished with the bras already. My concept was conceived to be fantastical clothing, which seemed to float. My use of color, and lighting (values) held it together; another strength noted was my juxtaposition of objects so that the two things in one picture dialogued with one another (what I was aiming for! YAY :D) Maria shocked me in a good way when she said, “I wish you weren’t sick!!” She suggested that I find what worked in the birdcage painting “whatever it was” and incorporate it. What worked? Devin’s casual suggestion: more drips.
Now time for the segment of wind-dropping-from-sails called What worked according to Nell:
Nell, on the other hand, felt that most of the series was largely unfinished, that several things needed to be resolved. Once again, my background was a disorienting focal point; noone could decide whether or not it was a negative or a positive to be so…possesive of motion. The variant washes in the backgropund and foreground were dynamic but needed to be toned down so as not to distract.
“Ground the objects. Play with the idea of we recognize this and then we don’t; it is, and it isn’t. Use hints though, not outright descripition–again, the power of suggestion [applies here]: include a clamp, a strap, detail, like you have here in your lace, wonderful little moments like that of distinction–but not too much.”
Your strengths here lie in shape, depicting forms, Now all you ave to do is FINISH and add in key details.
Then I made note about what DID work in the birdcage painting–difficult to assess, since there was no consensus among my classmates; what one person liked another found annoying, disorienting, or in need of resolution. I narrowed my list of qualities down to the few things I would focus on: the dynamic washes in the foreground and background, NOT using local color on the object but using multiple hues to demonstrate values, and using as many layers as possible (in ONE day. Gulp!)
Nov 28th: Tis the tortoise, slow and steady, who wins the race.
TOday I gessoed out part of the background from the bras piece; it was too distracting. I also added in more detaiils in the black bra to make it appear, well, more like a black bra. I started to layer Frilly (the lavender bra must be named lol, it reminds me of Irene) with purple ink. Slowly and tediously.
I also had a Hamlet moment: Should I start the scarf? Yes?No? Decision: Yes. I wound up scribbling on the sepia background with a red Neocolor crayon and calling it a day; I was somehow stumped and exhausted. From nothing. -_-
Oh!! and on a more optimistic note, I started the purple heel:
SOooooooooo I missed an ENTIRE week due to what definitely felt like a terminal illnes–wicked combination of the flu and strep throat and God knows what else was going on psychologically! OnNoveber 14th, I did return to class and do a walk-around mini-critique in which I explained my deconstructed still life–all I had at that point. According to Nell and my classmates, I shouldn’t be beating myself up so much; progress HAS been made because I’ve simplified my subject matter, and thus, my focus. I took maybe 50 photos total to serve as sketches and to figure out what positions I wanted to arrange the shoes, bras and scarves in relation to one another.
So now, on November 16th, I’m STILL working on preliminary tasks: I cut Archer paper into fours, each measuring 10.5 in. x 14 in. Then, I set up three still lifes (lives??) of bras, shoes, and scarves (with this really cute little embriodered leather glove). As yet, I have absolutely NO idea what the subject for my fourth painting will be.
My plan per piece: the left side is the “plain Jane,” unadorned, “masculine” object, while the right is the reflection of society, the frilly, lacy, stereotypically feminine object. The plain object’s angle and point of view is from the table; in order to create the fluffy things, I will be using their reflections in the mirror. (Time to break out that ole string!)
I applied ink washes to each sheet. Each wash runs from left to right at a diagonal: blue-violet to lavender and sepia, for the shoes; lavender-sepia to orange for the bras, yellow to green, and yellow-orange to sepia for the scarves and gloves. The piece with the yellow-green background is a sort of wild card, question mark right now…
The last thing I did before class ended today was to rather quickly and sloppily draw in the basic shape for the bras, then fill in color and details for the plain bra.
I am in the process of doing this fantastically long, ambitious undertaking: a 10-15 page term paper demonstrating how Black women artists contribute to Africana studies via their creative expression as relates to their life experiences, the race-class-gender intersectional dynamic faced daily, and the sociopolitical context in which certain women have used art to channel their voice. Cool, huh? Now if only I could crank out 7 more pages by 5 and have actually discussed EVERYTHING I PURPORT to cover!!!
I am learning TONS about African-American art in the process, by the way. Fun fact: Modernism and especially Cubism (think Picasso) borrowed from traditional African geometric design and simplicity; they just called it “Primitiveness.” Dot dot dot…
Lengthy introduction to the quote of the day..I am rapidly perusing through 2 books full of these and images of work by black artists, aptly titled Black Artists on Art, edited by Samella S. Lewis and Ruth Waddy:
“Art is like all other parts of life–a painful and often brutal experience. Ease comes when the artist realizes the significance of the pain and submits to it.” –Ron Moore