Ah! I’m finally home for winter break. Five eighths of the way done with college. This semester I took four studio classes and only one academic; that means that I have made a whole lot of work this year! Some of which still isn’t up on my site but I am getting to that I promise.
So what did I learn this year? Well I learned how to use watercolors. I had painted a little bit in watercolors in the past, mostly sketching with them, but this was the first time that I have used watercolors to do some serious paintings. It was hard to get the hang of at first because I am so used to working with acrylics. With acrylic paint, you mix the color you want, put it on the canvas, and that color is there, its done, its opaque and isn’t going to change unless you put another glob of paint on top of it. With watercolor, the paint is translucent, even transparent sometimes. It takes many layers to build up the colors to dark values and it is easy to move the paint around and change the transparency with a little bit of water. The paintings are fragile and thin and you must work delicately. However, watercolor is a beautiful medium to work in, and great textures and soft, flat washes of color can be achieved depending on how you apply the paint.
I also learned a lot about the figure this semester. I took a figure drawing class, where for two and a half hours, twice a week, we draw naked people. That’s a lot of drawings over the course of a semester, and because the drawings are super time sensitive, it was kind of stressful! Drawing from the figure means that the reference your drawing from occasionally moves, and needs periodic breaks, and will only be there for one class period. That doesn’t leave much time to make a finished drawing in. There is no referring back to that model once the class has ended, so you have to be constantly focusing and watching the time and bringing up the whole drawing at the same time or at least budgeting time for each area. Lots of things to worry about in that class. However all of that practice has certainly paid off, especially in drawing the face. Everyone always struggles with faces, especially getting them to look just like the person being drawn, but after drawing so many faces, and many of the same faces over and over again (because we had each model many times in one semester) I feel like I have improved immensely.
Other than improving my technique, I also learned a lot about myself in terms of how I work and what I want to work on. I have always been relatively in tune with my work habits and how I get things done best, but this semester I spend a lot of time tapping into my creative and critical thinking side of the art-making, and not just focusing on the execution side, as much of college demanded that I do. I had a drawing class this semester that allowed me the freedom to make any kind of work that I wanted. I really loved this because I got the chance to be truly creative and conceptual. I found that I have a real love for function artwork. I need to make work that is going to serve a purpose or could be applied to a future purpose. I love art for art-sake and can appreciate artwork that is not made with any purpose in mind, but for me personally, to get the most satisfaction out of my pieces, I have to make something that is in some way function, marketable, or reproducible. Appealing to the masses really, is what I aim for. I like making work that applies to other people–not all people, but a sizable group of people.
I also have been making really girly, frilly, sparkly work lately. I am really drawn to the high that “eye-candy” delivers, and I like to make things that are pleasing to look at. However, I don’t want to make work that is hollow and void of meaning, so I try to use the functional and massively appealing conceptual stuff in my head to enrich my work, and not make the work all about the pretty surface. An example of this is my corset playing card deck, which addresses a whole slew of issues around beauty, the idealization of the female form, and the lengths that human beings go to in order to be considered pretty…but I will have more on that soon. They are pretty cute, if I do say so myself.