I recently completed the class Materials and Image Development (VPA211) at CSU. The class incorporated learning foundational skills in drawing and employing art/design principles and theories to create engaging compositions.
Learning about the foundational skills of drawing and image-making allowed me to improve my skills and interpretation of art and design across multiple disciplines.
My confidence in my traditional media skills was low at the beginning of the class. However, as I began learning and experimenting, I found I was continually improving. Nevertheless, I still have a long way to go. I plan to keep practising and see where the journey leads me.
The class centred around three assessments focussing on exploring compositions and media, image creation and representing identity.
⭐️ Exploring Compositions and Media
Line, Tone & Colour
Assessment 1 “Kettle & Canisters”
My composition Kettle & Canisters features a dark (low tone) electric kettle centred in the frame with two light (high tone) canisters on either side. The objects are arranged symmetrically, as my interpretation was influenced by the structural shapes within. In addition, I have used a low range horizon and vantage point to construct a sense of intensified scale, making the objects dominate the frame (Willenbrink & Willenbrink, 2006, pp. 32-33). The small foreground assists in emphasising the perspective as the subjects appear to ascend from a restricted to open space. I have used the dynamics of tonal perspective (Stobart, 2006, p. 34) to draw the viewer into the centre of the frame with the dark kettle and leading the eye outwards to the lighter canisters.
Kettle & Canisters was constructed with natural charcoal, white pastel, a kneadable eraser and a blending tool. The charcoal is a dynamic medium that allows for quick replication of tone and the ability to create contrast with the eraser or white pastel. I began the composition by referencing the visual exploration, focusing on structure, perspective and proportions. Then, I created quick sketches using a sharpened piece of charcoal and refined the shapes with the details. Next, I applied a wider area of charcoal to define darker areas and gradually smudged with a blending tool. I continued to apply and blend more charcoal until the desired depth was achieved. Finally, to add contrast, I used a white pastel to blend softer greys and the kneadable eraser to add highlights. Charcoal was an appropriate medium because of the limited pallet, low reliance on detail and focus on form. In addition, the blending technique creates a three-dimensional realism and insights the viewer to interpret the objects as situated in reality.
I could have improved the composition by focusing on four primary areas; arrangement, perspective, tone and details. While my intention was the symmetrical construction of the objects, an asymmetrical arrangement may have made the composition more realistic and appealing (Willenbrink & Willenbrink, 2006, p. 87) to the viewer. In addition, further experimentation with perspective and vantage points would have improved the replication of the objects into more natural forms. Improvements on the tonal blending of the kettle would have offered a better rendition between the light and dark areas and created a greater sense of depth. I could also have drawn on tonal perspective to position the canisters further away from the kettle. Finally, attention could be applied to small details within the kettle, which would refine the work further.
⭐️ Image Creation
Assessment 2: Layered Picture Book “The Lingering Unconscious”
The Lingering Unconscious is a surrealistic arrangement of found imagery with distinctive shape or textural qualities, formulated into a six-page composition based on coherence and visual interest.
Meaning is intended to engage with the viewer’s past experiences and is open to multiple interpretations of order, chaos, hope, fragility and self-examination. For instance, the figure may represent the self, and the symbology of the cactus juxtaposed with the moon and butterfly may indicate overcoming personal challenges.
The composition finds inspiration from Brooks Shane Salzwedel and his multi-dimensional mixed media imagery. In addition, the work of Sol LeWitt, with his minimal use of lines, assisted in the ideation of utilising linework to develop pattern, texture, continuity and rhythm.
Each page functions with the other to establish a collective whole made up of individual elements which establish uniformity based on the gestalt principles of visual coherence. The position of elements intersect with each other to appoint engaging visual interest.
⭐️ Representing Identity
Assessment 3: Introspection
Introspection is a series of three compositions that examine identity through the theme of reflection from a past, present and future perspective.
Each piece explores the artist’s mental, psychological, and emotional state through traditional media, abstraction and digital manipulation. The works are inspired by an analysis of the self and the collective forces that define the individual at distinct moments in time. Additionally, each piece was influenced by the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, Edward Munch, Egon Schiele, Henri Matisse, Lee Krasner, and Mark Tobey and the ways identity and emotion are explored.
The past is a place of conflict, delusion and fear. The self is lost, uncertain and ashamed to face the audience. The eyes look away, the mouth frowns, and the darkness frames the face, while the textural cracks of reality break the lines between figure and ground. The composition uses charcoal drawing, abstract painting and digital manipulation in Photoshop to emphasise the turmoil of the past. Dark tones create a sense of apprehension by surrounding the face and carrying through with shadows around the eyes and mouth. The textural lines of the abstract painting distress the figure and accentuate the intention.
The present is an awakening, the birth of a journey in acknowledging and accepting the self. The fragmented experiences of the past are remoulded with emerging knowledge as transformations slowly begin to unfold. The composition is composed of pastels, abstract painting, and digital editing in Photoshop. The dynamic between dark tones and brushes of colour are separated between the facial features and background to suggest the emerging metamorphosis from within.
The future radiates an eruption of creativity and confidence. Inner strength and acceptance manifest through the interconnection of knowledge, emotion and expression. Tomorrow is different, unexplored and open to great possibilities. The work is constructed with a fineliner strippling technique, abstract painting, and digital modification in Photoshop. The strippling forms the figure through numerous small dots, which reflect the multiple layers and dimensions of individuality and the connection of components that comprise the whole. The vibrant colours, patterns and textures create an expression of movement adhering to a rhythm of change.
I completed the class with a high distinction.