Series Part Three and Conclusion

This painting was the third and (tentatively) final in the series, so it was surprising that it was the one I had most difficulty with, as well as the one I liked the least.

I knew all along that I was going to do a hand painting and a face painting, but I had trouble coming up with the subject matter of this one, but going with “body” as the final installment felt conceptually right. I also tend towards working with the figure a lot, so I thought it’d be awesome. However, something about this painting just feels unresolved and I just can’t put my finger on it even while going back to it. I think that part of the issue was mental, as I kept getting caught up in making it fit with the rest of the series, as well as my last (fine) art project in college, so the end result felt underwhelming and altogether not-good-enough.

The bitmaps/subject matter in this painting were much more abstract/less iconic (hands and faces are always much more obvious and detailed than backs and collarbones) than the other ones, so balancing the areas of paint with bitmap was trickier, and they ended up being more scattered. I guess this is not necessarily a bad thing, since the composition was less straight-forward, but it felt weird. I also found it harder to work with the colors with the subject matter, so I’m not sold on the details of the painting. I do enjoy the color palette, though, and adding the light blue at the end really pulled it together. I don’t feel as if it matches my background colors well, though. If I could go back, I would have made it just a yellow gradient without orange. Because of these reasons, I do not feel as if the painting stands that well on its own like the other ones do, but I think it works okay in the series as a whole.

As far as the series goes, I think it turned out really cool. The product wasn’t exactly the same as my plan but it never works out that way. It was still a really different style and process than is usual for me, and I think the result is unique and interesting. The paintings only built on the concept more as the collages became more fragmented, and they bring a splash of color to my portfolio ;).

Series Part Two and More Process Details

In my last post, I wrote mostly about the conception and ideas behind this series of paintings. For this post, I thought I would write a bit about the creation process in addition to my writing about the individual piece.

After picking the subject matter (ex: hands, face), I came up with a very basic idea of what colors I’d use. I knew that I didn’t want super lifelike colors, so for the first painting I decided a pinkish-orangish background would look nice with greenish toned skin. Because I picked those colors for the first one, I decided that I wanted this second painting to have a greenish blue background. I also planned to paint the faces using colors like orange and pink. The pink that I used kind of went with the pink in my first painting of the series, so in an effort to create more continuity through the series, I also added in a slight amount of the green tone that I really enjoyed from the first painting.

For my first painting, in order to think about my composition, I posed my hands in front of my blank painted background where I thought they should go. I then edited those hands in Photoshop to be black and white. In order to make good-looking bitmaps, I had to crank up the contrast and make the image size and resolution tiny. However, I used the original photos for reference while painting in order to see nuanced color changes on my skin in the lighting. Despite my color palettes being fairly un-lifelike, I generally pulled my color choice from the photo. Obviously, if my skin looked a bit pink, green, blue, or orange in the light I pushed it. I think its funny that I’m so winter pale that my skin can look green or purple under fluorescent lights.

(here you can kind of see my photography and editing process… as well as my pale, pale skin)

 

For this painting, I decided to take pictures of my face with stark light in the lighting lab to add contrast. This caused trouble for me at first, since it lead to huge flat areas of dark on the bitmap. I wanted to leave some showing, but some of the huge ones I wanted to paint over. It was harder to find and pick out color for these huge areas while still retaining the darks. This had me worrying about my color palette at first, but I think it has turned out to be one of my favorite color palettes I’ve done because it’s so oddball.

Another thing to note is that I fragmented and layered the bits of the face in this painting as opposed to the style first piece. I think it added interest and worked out, but I wanted to pull the pieces together somehow, so I added more paint smears that left the fragments and sometimes travelled between. I still am not one hundred sure what the subject matter of the last painting in this series will be, but I think I want to retain the fragmented quality and the smears going all over.

…To Be Continued

 

Series Part One and the Fighting Polygon Team

This is the first painting in what will be a series of three.

The short, less involved description of my plan for the series is to photograph parts of the human figure, edit them into obvious-but-realistic black and white bitmaps, then paint the flesh in color on top of the bitmaps like a frame. This one focuses on hands, while the next one will probably focus on face parts. I have not decided what to do with the third yet.

There are a few artists that I was looking at for this project, but the main one that has inspired me to incorporate painting on top of collage is AM Debrincat, who combines photography (digital and analog) and printmaking with her paintings to try and represent and explore “portraiture and the hybrid nature of identity in the digital age.”

While Debrincat usually paints a face on top of a photograph, I became interested in the painting being more fragmented, like pieces of flesh ethereally forming on top the bitmap, like what’s underneath isn’t necessarily real, and what’s on top isn’t all the way formed and solid.

I had the usual amount of struggle with this painting, but not in the usual way. It was a challenge for me not to overwork the actual painting part, since I wanted there to be a delicate balance between painting and bitmap. I am not used to having to focus on leaving parts of a painting untouched; I can usually just go wild all over the place. I also think that a part of me felt like I had to do a whole lot of painting since there was so much preparation involved to actually get to the painting part.

Overall, this first painting in the series didn’t necessarily turn out as I intended, but artwork never really does. I wanted to try splitting different areas into color themes, but it didn’t feel right (I think because of the subject matter and scale). I did try to retain the idea of using various off-the-wall colors, which I think worked out. I might try again with the next one.

…To Be Continued

Continue reading “Series Part One and the Fighting Polygon Team”

Weekday Minutes Wasted.

 

I was really indecisive about what I wanted to collect data on in this project and, admittedly, I really pushed off thinking about it at all until the last minute. One thing that I have noticed about myself is that I waste a whole lot of time. I sit around literally thinking about how I’m not doing anything. Lots of times this is because I have something important to do that I’m not doing, but making it so that I can’t do anything fun either (I even sat around for two hours working myself up to write this post). I just decided to count up how much time I waste (since I’m always looking at the clock) every day, since that was my issue in the first place.

I ended up wasting about (give or take an hour) 3 hours on weekdays and 4 hours on weekend-days. The results feel super gross, but not altogether shocking (imagine if I utilized all that time!). That is about 1,119 hours or just about 50 days a year. Hopefully some weeks are more productive than others.

One of the reasons this project felt difficult at first to me was the idea of painting data. I totally love looking at graphs and stuff, or data set out in a creative way (I’m thinking of the subreddit /r/dataisbeautiful). However, when I think of the type of data I like looking at, it is all crisp and mathematical, which feels very far off from my style, at least what I’d want to translate to paint (I could probably swing drawing).

My first idea for the painting was to paint a self-portrait and smear over to take out a chunk representative of time wasted. I didn’t want another big-head-in-the-middle composition, though, so I settled on splitting the head and drawing smears and fragmenting the face, with one smear representing one minute in a day wasted. I originally intended to have one half of the head having 240 smears for the weekend, and the other having 180 for a weekday, but the painting started filling up fast, so I decided (for the sake of aesthetics) to stick with representing a weekday. I feel like this idea was not conceptually as strong as the original idea of taking away, but I think it turned out in the long run.

I am not sure if I like the way this painting turned out, but that may be because I was super stressed out about making it the whole time. It felt like every time I went back in to work on it, it would come out looking worse, and all I could do was hope that eventually it would pull through looking all right. Only in the last few hours (and definitely not until the data smears came in) did it start looking decent at all.

I have made a permanent note in my mind not to zone out and accidentally treat eyeball place-holder sketches as a true guide and start painting them in. A true mess.

Memories.

I only do this on occasion nowadays, but I used to frequently make mix-CDs for people I was close to. Thinking back, I believe I was using them as a way of communicating. I would labor over them, too—like I would spend days thinking about what songs in what order sounded right and had lyrics that would get across what I was hoping to express.

I decided that I would try to paint the emotions and thoughts that would go into these compilations onto actual CDs. So I set out to do this, listening to the past compilations that I made for people for inspiration as I went along. It was kind of a bizarre experience; it felt like the playlists really transported me back to the time (in particular) that I was making a lot of them. At this point, I decided to expand upon my original idea and paint memories onto the CDs, while still retaining some of the original concept. It’s a bit of a cheesy approach, but it’s a literal approach of how music can hold memories and emotions.

I was a bit hesitant with this project at first, because sometimes when people make art that is too personal, it won’t mean anything to regular viewers. I generally try my best to make my work unspecific enough that it is accessible, but I feel like this piece is definitely pushing beyond that boundary a bit. I’ve been trying to overthink everything less this semester, though, so I decided to just do it anyway.

I really enjoy how the paintings look coming out from the odd CD sheen, but that’s about it. I struggled with these paintings quite a bit. I think I thought they’d be easier because they are small, but I quickly realized I have a lot harder of a time working small, and it was confusing and irritating going back to acrylic paint. In my memory I liked acrylic better, but I decided that’s not true. I kind of can’t wait to throw these in a closet so that I don’t have to see the worst shoe ever painted anymore, but I still flip through them like I’m looking at old photos.

“I began to feel really sick, but I could not shut my glazzes [eyes].”

To be honest, I hadn’t painted in over two years before this project.

This is a large part of the reason that, when I learned we would be painting a self portrait based on our digital identities (or at least how we see them personally), I wanted to come up with a concept that didn’t include common digital signifiers. I wanted a concept in which I could really go wild with paint just as a medium since it had been so long, and I’m not patient enough for straight-crisp-computery lines.

With that being said, I began thinking about who I am on the internet, and I found out that I am really no one at all. I hardly even post on my personal social media accounts (this awareness drove me to try and post more on instagram throughout the project). I watch a lot of streams and scour forums or read articles practically all day long, but I never really feel up to the commitment of even commenting or participating, so I thought about painting a literal representation of myself as a ‘lurker’.

Sort of in the same vein, I spend a lot of time thinking (project or not) about how I am taking in new information from the internet literally all day every day. There is always something more to read or hear about, I cannot tear myself away from it. Sometimes the internet feels more real and visceral than the actual world.

I felt like a spot on literal representation of this strapped-in feeling was that scene in Kubrick’s film adaption of A Clockwork Orange where Alex is tied to a chair in a straight-jacket with his eyes pried open. They force him to watch movies of “the ultraviolence” and he cannot look away. At first he is entertained, but it quickly becomes torturous.

I have chosen to paint myself right at that point in the scene where Alex is crossing over from loving it to being sick.