Here are the first set of revisions from last week. I get busy and forget to post. I really enjoyed Mike walking through my image with me and discussing how to make it stronger both as a image AND as visual story. The first thing we did was flip the whole image. If I want to lead people into an image with the rabbit than it makes sense to lead them in going the direction that they read. We also talked about using shadow to frame things or tell more of the story. In this image the rabbit was leading two characters into the scene so it made sense to say that with a clever shadow. We also talked about pushing the background further back by diminishing contrast and detail. After I showed him this, he suggested that I lose even more contrast in the next revision. And I also tried to use his advice about keeping my viewers eye in the image instead of having it slip through but being more conscious of how I was framing the images and the subjects within the image. It was so enjoyable to get such sound advice and use it to improve my work.
Pre-rez I was focused on my presentation. This residency's presentation came with a new format, Pecha Kucha. We were given 20 slides at 20 seconds a piece to communicate to our past semester to our fellow students and faculty. I tried to have a little fun with mine, luckily it went over well and I got a lot of good feedback. I made the most popular slide into a little gif. Here's my 3 second feminist critique of the Bauhaus:
Here's an environment I finished up last week. I tried out some color ideas Mike showed me. During our chat he did a paintover and crit of this and my previously posted piece. It's so wonderful to get to see, not just another artist's suggestions, but the thinking behind each edit. Right now I'm working on revising this piece based on that feedback. I'll post the newer version when I'm done and then go over the reasons for each change.
"The fairy tale is in a perpetual state of becoming and alteration. To keep to one version or one translation alone is to put a robin redbreast in a cage. If you, the reader, want to tell any of the tales in this book, I hope you will feel free to be no more faithful than you want to be. You are at perfect liberty to invent other details than the ones I've passed on, or invented, here. In fact you're not only at liberty to do so: you have a positive duty to make the story your own. A fairy tale is not a text."
—Phillip Pullman, introduction to 'Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm'
A semester ended and a new one began. I am half way through my MFA program. So much has happened in the last year and in the last residency. I cannot imagine my life without VCFA people in it.
I'm excited to begin a new semester. I'm on the lookout for a new, more accesible, story to use as a visual development project. I am even flirting with the idea of rewriting a story to make it my own. I get to keep working with Mike Yamada via Motivarti. We've only met a few times and I get so much from each chat. And I know, like each semester before it, this one will have surprises in store. I will go where I hadn't expected to be, and be glad for it.
Above is my last piece from last semester. I painted an environment with my faculty advisor's pooch in it as a gallery surprise for our residency show.
Procrastination blog post—really I'm trying to write a letter and am finding myself frustratingly communicating in cliches so I'm taking a time out.
My first year at VCFA is wrapping up. I'm getting ready for our Vermont residency and starting year two; thinking big thoughts about thesis-worthy adventures.
Here is a spread from my last VCFA packet. I finished reading The Skillful Huntsman. It made me really consider how I design/draw. I think I spend too much time working towards one finished image instead of spending time exploring all the possibilities in an idea before I commit. These are some of my first experiments with that in mind. The product IS the process.
I got an email Monday. I've been chosen to participate in a mentorship program through Motivarti. I'm so excited I don't know what to say. I'm just going to keep smiling quietly to myself every time I think about it.
"I wonder what I would have done if I had realized at the time that the very very high mountain I was trying to climb was only the first little foothill, before the other higher and higher mountains that receded off into the distance further than one could see, each of which must be climbed and conquered. Maybe the mountain ranges never end, and the final goal I dreamed of reaching was unreachable.
But by the grace of God, I didn't know that, and at least half of the time I still don't know it, or I forget, and I go on climbing expecting night after night that suddenly the millions and millions of angels and whoever, whatever the word God means, will swoop down upon me and fill me with infinite wisdom and show me how to go around healing everybody who needs healing, and taking everybody's headaches away, and turning the whole world into a lovely, beautiful, peaceful place to live in. I know it doesn't work that way, but I wish it did!"
—Eyvind Earle, Horizon Bound on a Bicycle
A friend tagged me for the Instagram #5shotchallenge and left me with the theme 'elsewhere' and this: "Get it?!" I didn't really get it. Thinking on the theme, I decided to take a photo of that day and then impose an elsewhere on it, overlapping reality and imagination.
I did these little experiments on my iPad, drawing over the photo in an art app and then sharing them through Instagram.
Designing my Darla; when her foxy kitsune self she is a murderous assassin, but as human Darla she has to be approachable enough for Prue to confide in. If that didn't make sense to you, you haven't read Under Wildwood yet.
I've started walking behind buildings and documenting what I find there. At first I was just running the images through ol' Instagram, but I wanted out of that box (square format) so I'm back on Flickr. These are still from my iPhone, but I got a new DSLR and I already have a photo project planned to test it out!
I got an iPad and loaded up on artsy apps that I'm trying out. I made this using Sketchbook Pro app. At first it felt like everything was going to be a bit of a scribbly mess on the iPad, but I'm starting to control the tool instead of letting the tool control me. I will beat you iPad!!
"I take this opportunity to impress upon you, my reader, how important you really are in the whole of art procedure. You, your personality, your individuality come first. Your pictures are your by-product. Everything about your pictures is, and should be, a little of you. They will be a reflection of your knowledge, your experience, your observation, your likes and dislikes, your good taste, and your thinking. So the real concentration is centered on you, and your work follows along in the wake of what mental self-improvement you are making. It has taken me a lifetime to realize that. So before we talk about drawing, it is important to sell you strongly on yourself, to plant that urge so definitely in your consciousness that you must know at once that most of it comes from the other end of your pencil rather than the business end."
VCFA midterm is complete! Over the holiday break I did a lot of reading, organizing, and thinking about how I wanted to finish my second semester at VCFA. One of the books I got for Christmas was Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist. It's a good book if you are feeling stuck. Chapter 3:
The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done.
What do I want to see done? Under Wildwood. Well any Wildwood would be good, but I choose the second book of the series because it was the first book I read this semester and was a book I read with visual development in my brain. When I read it I wanted to draw everything, so that's what I'm going to do. For the rest of the semester I'm going to play like I'm on a visual development team for Under Wildwood and explore the characters and places in that story. I'm excited to see what comes out of the project.
Maude, the Great Blue Heron is my first character. A lot of the animals in Wildwood talk, while some talk and march around in clothes others seem like talking versions of their natural selves, and that is how I imagined Maude. She does gesture with her wings as humans would their arms so I drew what I thought it would look like if an oversized Great Blue was chatting with me. This is my Maude.
My message is amuse yourself... It is essential to just be in it for yourself, to do the things that interest you, to do the things that amuse yourself. You should be doing that first and foremost, and not as a trivial afterthought. If you fall into the right job, you should be there for your own fun. Doing that is not being flaky, or being irresponsible, or being childish; doing it is taking the first step to making your work special and memorable and important and worthwhile. Before anything is going to get inside a reader or a viewer or a listener and just stick in their gut, it’s got to stick in your gut first.
Don’t wait for permission from anyone to make the work you want to make. Don’t wait for that special job, don’t wait for anything. Start right away. Just start. Even if you are not sure how to get there, just start. Show it to people, get instruction, get advice, push forward one step at a time. That’s how things happen, that’s how good things happen. And just try things, try one thing and another, try things until luck kicks in. Luck will always kick in.
– Ira Glass, 2012 CUNY Commencement Ceremony
Last week for my Environmental Design class I did a lot of research based on one of my ideation sketches. This week I went back into that original sketch with more concrete ideas of materials and story and did this painting. This class has forced me into painter mode, which is really difficult for me, but I've got a better grasp of how to develop environments and wind up having fun, even if I get frustrated by my (lack of) skill. Only, one thing can fix that: MAGIC! (I mean practice).
Can you find the tangent?