Monday, March 14, 2011

Project 2 "finished"

I did what I said I was going to do, The blue was flatter but then it got messed up a little so I redid it, but couldn't get it quite as smooth and flat as it was because of being sloppy adding paper (didn't realize it would matter at the time). It's also not as bright as it was. It is what it is for now. But I think I may change it a lot. It isn't screaming "finished" or "ah ha!" yet. I also this week played with the magazine pieces in abstract. I think they are a tool, I just haven't figured out how to use the tool quite yet. I'm not really disappointed or discouraged, I just haven't quite pushed it over the edge yet. It's just a stepping stone.

40"x40". Acrylic and paper on wood.

 (right click view image to see bigger picture)

 Here are some details and a context shot for scale:

This is a peer crit by my classmate, Judy, and my comments are in gray:
You were quite ambitious to do such a large size for your second project.  Some things I notice when my pieces went larger was that the simplicity had to be more detailed.  You have a good start but as you said it is not quite finished and is missing that aha!
First, Your composition is good with the faces being cut off..the face on the right side needs more contrast of color it looks to be too dark of a shape and too large of a dark shape for the overall composition. I agree but the photography definitely is not showing it off well either.  If the face was lightened I  think that would solve the issue.  Also I think the larger shapes such as  the light face are missing detail / shadow and are reading very flat..would you consider some shadowing or additional layers to liven it up?  No. I don't want the attention to go there. It's not about the face. I really like the one curly piece in the orange hair and wish for more of that level of detail in the hair that would give it some additional texture and more to focus on. 
 The values shifts are very similar and missing more of the middle-darker value, a few steps from the darkest to the next middle value might give the piece some overall interest.  I only see three value changes, the hair, background and face are very similar and the clothes and other face and hair read as the same value.
I like the faint pencil lines that are showing through.  Another idea might be additional linework or marks to enhance the edges or give the piece some more detail...charcoal? The "pencil lines' are charcoal, remember the scale. the charcoal i used was huge (now it's gone)
Last idea, the dark face and hair in the foreground is really intriguing trying to figure out what their relationship is...perhaps  the dark hair could get another layer to lighten it slightly, leave the face dark and overlap the figures a bit more with the hair.  What are you trying to say with their interaction?  What is the message? Honestly I don't know. I just had to get this big to see where to go with it.
Could the background go a shade darker to put it back more and not be so close in value to the face? This is nitpicky, I think the issues are much larger than slightly changing a color. For this type of crit I understand because in theory it would be "done," but I'll keep darkening it up a touch in mind when I work on it again. May all be surprised at what I turn in Sunday.
Overall I liked your faces from the start and the different styles you have shown are really intriguing from past postings.  I know the size gives this piece impact and you are on your way to a really great finished piece.  Good work!
Thanks Judy. I will take all of your comments into consideration as I proceed.

 Here is Sarah's crit, my comments, still in grey:
Hi Emily,
Sorry to take so long to get to you. I am going in order of posting - and the outside world is interfering in my pace! No worries i definitely know how it goes. I did abstract painting all day with the windows and doors open and it's still 81 degrees! Woo hoo!!
Judy pointed out - and I am sure you already knew - that everything changes when you start working large, in ways that you cannot always anticipate. I love that you went big, and I think that you should do more of this, even while I don't feel as if this piece is fully resolved. I plan to in here. I think I'll start a one person one during spring break and in addition to working back into this one this week.
The intention of your work changes completely when you get to this scale, and also when you go from multiples to a single piece. Oddly, while your cutouts felt like more than enough, this feels like not quite enough (even though there is so much more here, more pieces, more shades, more of everything really.) Judy suggested that you need more detail and texture, but I think you might need less. This piece can't really have less, but it can have more, and so i always feel like, if it's not the best it could be, why worry about ruining it? Charge!) I know you are not intending to replicate what you did with the cutouts but I would think about how to get the same idea of flatness and fragmentation here. I don't necessarily feel that way. I wanted the blue to be flatter, but i really don't feel like i need to be accomplishing anything even related to the cut paper ones. This is a totally different thing. I was just using the cut paper as composition to think about and investigate something different through something vaguely familiar. I'm not opposed to the flatness necessarily but...
This feels too much like a "Painting" to me. To add more detail, texture, shading, etc. would just take it further in that direction and that is not you. Instead, I think you need to find a way to make most of the areas extremely flat (Self leveling gel? Enamel? Meticulous brushwork?), while pushing the crazy texture of the hair and the color more. I am a painter, everything that takes me further away from feeling like i'm making paintings is have a mark in the negative column. I want this to be a painting. I want what i do to be painting. I want to feel free to use any media, but the painting is essential to what i do. Paint is why i make art. I want my artistic process to feel physically good so i don't want to use enamel (too fumey).
oh. I just realized. when i said enamel since you said it i thought you meant like the crap you paint models with or whatever, but then my brain shifted over to the meaning that is more prevalent in my live which is glass on metal. Duh. These things are supposed to me glass art. I'm pretty sure. Stained glass or fused glass or enameling. 
That sort of takes the pressure off in a way. because the cut paper just didn't feel like the destination. I've been making that kind of crafty cut paper since i was wee, yeah it's a little more heady, but still, cutting paper does not give me great joy, honestly, neither does cutting glass and glazing windows, but glass is so amazing, and when you lift up a freshly mudded window off the table for the time it's magical. Collage is not so *enter angelic "from the havens"type note*
You could also do something to create the sense of separation that you have in your cutouts - an outline might work, stained glass would have this problem solved inherently) but I like the idea of changing the surface, and even the level, of each area in a very precise way. You could even do a subtle shading at the very edge of areas - take a close look at Katz and you will often see that. I really want to diminish my relationship to katz.

The big question is really about how this produces meaning as a single, large piece. Very different than the small pieces, which created a dialogue about identity, surface, sameness and difference. Not quite the same thing here. But I think if you push at the fragmentation and separation of layers, something else may emerge. I want the many. There is no point without the many. I didn't every really think of it as just a 1, but more of "this one". and trying to figure out how to express it large. Conceptually i really like the mag cutouts, but there's something still to obvious about it. Maybe i could push this toward a concept I did for a while in college where I would xerox interior human anatomy, like inside the heart and stuff and then cut them up and glue them on a page and then use that as a starting place for drawing. OOOH OOOh! I got it. I'm going to do more of a fashion portrait. More like a Matisse than a Katz but I'm going to use cut outs from the ad head shots. and extend from there to create color scheme and image. I may use the spring runway shows also to find interesting head stuff going on, and just find mag cut outs to match. We'll see.
What do you want this to become? I think 3 tracks is plenty for now
1. continue on #1 in hopes of making it something
2. back burner stained glass (can't deal with this in my life. Until i finish school, no glass.
3. new one using fresh image, one person, from ad using ad in the painting. It is going to be a painting. It's going to be a fashion illustration portrait. I have done a ton of small fashion renderings in both illustration style and designer style but I've never truly let it all rip on a large scale acrylic painting. It seems so obvious but i think I've been dancing around it.

Thanks for your crit. It's interesting because last semester I felt much more open to suggestion than I do and I think it's because last year I felt like I was just playing, making things to see what happened, and now I feel like I'm getting a lot closer to "my work." So I feel like it's more of a guided (sort of by me, sort of by chance and sort of by everything else, call it what you want, the collective unconscious, the universe, I personally would not call it god, but...) journey now. I'm still kind of floundering about what TO DO but I'm much MUCH more sure about what doesn't feel right. The first go round of this class was the beginning of that. Paint is much more integral than it had a chance to be when I took this the first time, plus I was painting elsewhere so I was free to explore everything else, good fodder, but mostly, not vital to my life.

I feel like ultimately this project may be leading me to a really REALLY big project of doing portraits of all my family members but that's 86 people with just my parent's immediate families. and I've got a lit of exploring to do before I commit to that...
Overall, I am feeling excited. I'm going to go work some more.

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