Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hayden Walcott- Thoughts on My Work This Semester

Before I took Intermediate Drawing this semester I had no idea what "artistic vision" I wanted to portray in a series of works. In high school when making a piece for a competition, for a family member, or for a grade I could usually work out a deeper theme I could explore for that work, but I almost never continued that vision in a series. I focused on learning technique and speed, but I didn't think so much about each particular piece I made as part of a larger body of work. On my own art was, and continues to be, more of a means of relaxing or expressing thoughts I want to vent in the privacy of my sketchbook. Mostly I draw and doodle to have fun.
This is what 90% of my personal sketchbook looks like.
 Though I still continue to doodle and try to improve my technique while having fun, I think this class has taught me how to have a unifying vision for my art as a whole. From my initial piece where I tried too hard to focus on a narrative, to my final pieces where I just let myself explore a simple but interesting idea, I think I have learned a lot this semester through my six works exploring how humans relate to flora and fauna. I have begun to learn how to form an artistic vision naturally (pun intended).

My six works this semester in the order they were made. 
In my first piece I drew on the Language of Flowers. In roughly Victorian Europe time-period, many flowers, trees, and herbs were given different meanings and strengths often defined in little illustrated books of poems. People would exchange bouquets which held hidden meanings based on the types of flowers and their arrangements, something I expressed in this self-portrait. However, unless you know the Language of Flowers or (like me) look the meanings up, there is a whole layer to the flora here that viewers miss, something that frustrated me. I also see I need to brush up a on drawing faces, especially when I can't erase (who even sells non-erasable colored pencils. Why did I buy these). Also, the detail in the piece I feel overwhelms the image as a whole. 

In this piece, I didn't want to give up on the Language of Flowers yet, but I wanted the meaning to be more obvious to the viewer. I went back to the Language's roots as a way to express love and a part of courtship, and drew a bouquet indicating first love with a page ripped from a book with the definitions of several roses, the flowers of love. I initially planned to draw an entire messy desktop with the torn out page, but I felt that this would overwhelm the main parts of the image and so I simplified the composition. I still wasn't happy with this layout when I completed it, but I felt that it was better than the first overwhelmed piece.

After sketching my pet betta fish one day I realized that if flora was proving hard to explore, fauna might be another option. I often think of my fish as little grumpy men, and after my frustration with the Language of Flowers, the simple idea of a angry fish/ angry man appealed to me. I drew the two images large, giving equal weight to each part to emphasize the similarities and framed the drawings in solid boxes to emphasize the sharp, angry attitudes. I also decided to switch from color to just a stick of black charcoal in order to further simplify the piece and focus on the subjects. I really liked the equal sized/ black and white look and would continue with this for the rest of my pieces. 

I really liked the idea I had in my angry piece, so I continued on with expressive animals and humans. I decided to focus on domesticated animals, specifically pet animals, for their close connection they have with people. If dog owners tend to choose pets that resemble themselves, the creatures we have bred into existence for their looks should say something about human nature. For this piece I drew a fancy pigeon and a fashion model, both young, somewhat prideful and aesthetically pleasing subjects. They are framed this time in a thin, rounded line and disconnected in a way that I felt conveyed a more delicate strength and solo vanity (if that makes sense?).

For my fifth piece I decided to draw a young child and a hamster, to round out the three main age groups I had going (elderly, adult, children). I looked through a list of domesticated animals and the way hamsters stuff their face with huge food reminded me of young children. I like both of their intent expressions, with the simple happiness of food.  I don't have a picture of the final piece, but these two subjects were boxed by a sharp line as with the angry fish, though the line was thinner and a bit rougher. This makes it less harsh and reminiscent of how a child might draw a line.

For my final piece I decided to not just compare the human/animal duality, but the duality within each species itself. I wanted to show the diversity of dogs, man's best friend, and I eventually settled on poodles for their hunter/ show dog dynamic. I am a little frustrated technically with how the model's face came out after I tried to exaggerate her makeup, but overall I think the piece turned out well. Again, I don't have a picture of the finished piece with the lines, however there are thin but squared boxes surrounding each subject which conveys both the delicate vanity of the models ( similar to the attitude in the fancy pigeon piece) and the rough purpose of the hunters ( similar to the attitude in the angry fish).
Through the work I have done this semester I think I've just started to figure out the beginnings of my artistic vision. I've realized I like drawing from nature, particularly animals and flowers, and that I like showing opposition and comparisons in my work. I think I like having the viewer thinking about nature as a part of human life in a way they may have not done so before. However, I don't think I want to push an overtly "eco-friendly" or "power of nature" kind of message as has been suggested. Domesticated plants and animals, particularly flowers and pets which humans have cultivated for aesthetics and emotional value interest me very much. The act of working for generations to create a form of life suited to human interests reveals a lot about peoples' values, thoughts, and lives and I think this is an idea I would like to explore deeper. I have also come to feel I can best portray this vision through simpler compositions. I think I've realized simple ideas, visual humor, and comparisons can be as interesting artistically as very complex and detailed works. These simpler comparison pieces are best portrayed in a more dramatic way to get the viewer to think about the meaning of the subjects rather than to overwhelm them with detail.

Overall I think I have decided what is important to me as an artist is still to have fun and to relax through my work. However, I have changed in that I now realize how to explore a theme I find personally interesting through multiple pieces. While I wouldn't say I have a unified artistic vision yet, I think I am on the track to creating one and to finding what I want to say with my body of work. I will definitely be continuing my exploration of flora and fauna and their relations to humanity in my future work and sketches.

1 comment:

  1. Hayden, I like your drawings very much! I think if you have a series of animal/human comparison you could publish them in a book one day! :) Keep being creative!