Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Part of my journey as a developing artist has been my various run-ins with other artists. Whether I am drawn to their work because it intrigues me, or am repelled because I completely disagree with it, I am nevertheless responding with the choices I make in my own art. Further investigation of these artists may help me understand my own creative convictions, so in the following essay I will discuss why William Morris, Arthur Rackham, and Tim Burton are three of my heroes.
II. Artist Influences & Sources
Attacking this paper in chronological format, I will begin by introducing my interest with this particular designer, artist, writer, and politician. William Morris lived through the end of the 19th century and continues to live on as a historical icon of the Arts & Crafts movement. He is known for his highly detailed and nature inspired graphics, executed in both print and textiles. It is understood that Morris looked back to history for his inspiration, as the ancient medieval period is referenced throughout his work.
Why do I positively respond to Morris? I understand there to be several reasons that I find encouraging by looking to this individual’s life work Firstly, this man was not pigeonholed to one skill since history declares him as a designer, artist, writer, and politician. I myself have a vast array of interests and often struggle with which one best “suites” me. However, I don’t find that I am either an artist or a designer, a musician or a writer; I am but all four and desire to stay suspended in all of these creative outlets. I struggle with society’s mentality that every individual must declare their trade (in this case “degree”) and stick to it until they finally reach retirement. Some people struggle with this decision because they don’t know what they are good at, and I think a few others struggle because they don’t know which talent they should pursue. Looking to history and knowing there are individuals like Morris who are noted for their broad expertise gives me the encouragement that I should continue exploring my various interests as well.
Secondly, on a purely aesthetic level, I am also drawn to Morris’ work, specifically the beautiful wallpaper motifs. His use of texture and color is so specific and deliberate – it makes me crazy to imagine the amount of time and focus it took him to map out these compositions. I also am envious of his line work, the subtle variances of line weight brings the subject matter to life. He clearly has an appreciation for nature, and must personally find energy in replicating life into the graphical world. Perhaps he is falsely representing nature, as every flower and leaf is drawn flawlessly as it symmetrically mirrors itself across the page. Either philosophy, I am very impressed by his work and could get lost in the design just as I could get lost in the woods.
Moving on to my second hero, this English illustrator has brought to life hundreds of stories that I loved to hear as a child. Arthur Rackham’s fame began at the turn of the 20th century when he won gold medals at both the Milan International Exhibition and the Barcelona International Exposition. Some of the classic tales he illustrated include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gulliver’s Travels, Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme, Aesop Fables, and dozens more. By the end of his career, his work was even being displayed at The Louvre.
There isn’t much more that I know of Rackham, but I am thankful that I have seen so many of his illustrations. It is hard for me to speak of his work because I find it so captivating that it brings me into a state-of-mind that isn’t close to reality. Many of his illustrations are of whimsical, sometimes mythological, characters and scenarios. He builds up his compositions to subconsciously drag the viewer’s eye across the page, almost like the wind itself is pushing their attention.
Rackham’s style of execution is also very notable. Even though he has illustrated many stories, all of his drawings are cohesive with his unique rendering quality. Every scene is drawn upon a textured background, usually appearing as if the paper has been antiqued or stained. His heavy, yet delicately inked lines pour across the paper and form the lovely shapes and textures of his subject matter. He then strategically applies mild color that hints of the hues and shades that bring his illustrations to life. I wish I had Rackham’s understanding and control of drawing with ink, and also creating beautiful form with the black lines.
Finishing up by introducing my last hero, I find this man to be a complete genius and often feel threatened by his ownership of this dark, whimsical, and quirky style. Tim Burton was born in suburbia of California to a very ordinary family – but who would have guessed that based off of his work? It his been said that Burton’s creepy and cynical perspective, particularly executed through films, is his retaliation against the stuffy and artificial world he was raised in. Regardless, this man was the brain behind some of today’s most memorable movies, including Beetle Juice, Edward Scissor Hands, James and the Giant Peach, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sweeny Todd, and hopefully many more to come.
Similar to Rackham, I understand Burton to also thrive off of the literary world. Most of his stories are fiction, specifically stories that involve monsters, ghosts, or some abnormality to every day life. Many of his characters are based on ordinary people who encounter another dimension of life, whether it’s Heaven, Hell, or a parallel world. I think what is so appealing about these movies is the fact that our society is raised on children’s stories, and eventually this activity stops when we reach a certain age. Burton’s movies carry on the nostalgia of this story-time experience, yet twists the tales into something appealing to an adult-audience (needless to say, kids still enjoy them too.) Perhaps Burton is trying to provoke his viewers to feel insecure, uncomfortable, or unsure of themselves because they live in a society that is all about maintaining the opposite of those feelings.
I know I am influenced by Tim Burton’s work, and have been for a long time. I will never forget his earlier works, Edward Scissor Hands, James and the Giant Peach, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, as they reminded me very much of Halloween. Why is Halloween relevant? Two reasons, with one being that it’s a holiday all about expressing your creativity and two, well, it’s my birthday. Growing up as a Halloween baby has only led to my self identity in this special day, feeling a sense of ownership of the day, and thus a sense of ownership of Halloween. I’m sure it would have been different if I weren’t born as an individual who thrives off of their creativity. Anyway, I have always had an adoration of Tim Burton’s work, and I have to say I was slightly disappointed when he became more “main stream” and appealed to everyone’s liking. I won’t complain because his art is much deserved of any attention he has been receiving. I will continue to aspire in honor of his work that has pushed the envelope of society.
III. Influences & Sources from outside the art world
I am a musician, and need to feel and hear the balance of rhythm and melody. It’s odd to compare my music writing to my art making, but I know I am a huge sucker for texture. In my drawings, I love the feeling of mark making, striking the charcoal down and wrestling it across the page, only to turn around and lightly drift back. Even my pauses between making marks can be compared to the rests on the sheet music. And I play my piano with as much vigor, hitting notes repeatedly until they sketch out a melody. Although, I’m definitely not one to write a song about a melody, I will write a song about texture and rhythm before I will write about melody.
I love animals and know that my life would have been very different if I did not have them in my life. I grew up on a hobby farm, with horses, dogs, cats, fish, birds, hamsters, ground squirrels, and many other critters that taught me responsibility, but most importantly quenched my curiosity. I am a curious human, always have been and always will be, and I think the animal world is mysterious and tangible at the same time. I enjoy relating to animals, or at least trying to in my humanly way, and know I have had true companionship in some of these furry/feathery friendships. I know there is that complete stigma that animal people are eccentric; well I’m not going to argue against that, because I know and embrace this quality of myself. I think this only reflects that I’m a social person, and enjoy interacting with my environment. I haven’t started talking to walls yet so I must be in the clear.
IV. Personal Influences & Sources
I am a packrat, and not only by literal terms. I cling to the random paraphernalia that life and its experiences leave me. This is nearly contradictory, because I have the worst memory in the world and cannot recall some of the best moments of my life. Yet, a smell, a feeling, a particular note will sometimes triggers these memories, and it all comes rushing back, leaving me to ponder this gap between then and now. This is when I realize who I am. The experience of grieving the death of one of my dearest friends has taught me the value of memories. When that person is gone, you no longer have a future with them, but thankfully you have the past. I am not sure how this understanding directly influences my work, but I have no doubt in my mind that it doesn’t.
I have faith and therefore I have trust in the foundation of my beliefs. I am someone who believes there is a purpose to life - that there is a creator and life didn’t just happen out of chance. To me, a thorough understanding of life contradicts the definition of chance. I believe everyone desires to be loved and accepted, and walks through each day trying to better understand themselves. How can you truly know yourself if you don’t know your creator? And so I trudge through each day seeking out mine.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Knowing my personality type, how does that explain my participation in class critiques? Well... I do know I will talk when I have something nice to stay, or something I feel can be objectively critiqued and not step on the toes of the artist. As a people person, the last thing I want to do is say something that will make someone not like me. Yet, in the end, I don't like beating around the bush, I do have opinions about pretty much anything, and I am not going to compromise myself if it's a threatening situation. I have confidence and am a "dominant" person... meaning I don't do well with passive aggression and non-confrontational situations. I will try and speak my mind more often in critiques, especially since this is a Drawing III class, not kindergarten, and as artists and designers, we need practice defending our creative decisions.