Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Esther 2

For the month of July we had a new model, Esther, for our Saturday afternoon class at the National Academy.

During our first session I did a quick sketch of her in acrylic, using the broken colors that I've been experimenting with over the past several months.

For our second session I thought I'd try something new. I've been looking at AndrĂ© Schmucki and wanted to paint over a fairly realistic black and white image, just like a smeared photograph.

So I did a grisaille, but as I started layering the panels of color a different composition emerged. I felt as if I was looking at Esther through a stained glass window. I wanted to develop this idea further, but wasn't sure how.

Whenever I'm stuck with a painting I usually compare it online with images from other artists with a similar style, just to see what might need to be developed in my own work. In this case, I couldn't really think of anyone else who has tried to integrate geometric abstraction with realism so I had to work this out on my own:

Value - a gray scale showed a fairly readable dark/light/dark/light sequence. Check.

Composition - maybe I'm hallucinating but I thought I could see a pyramid? This would be good for organizing pattern and conveying stability.

Color balance - my choice of lavender, rust, and sky blue seemed totally arbitrary until I realized that I was picking up the colors of Esther's blouse and hair, and the backdrop, and redistributing these colors in an abstract manner. I've been taught to rotate a painting to see areas where colors might need to be added or removed for tonal balance:

I did the same thing in reverse:

Perhaps I've been looking at this image for too long but I still wasn't sure how to proceed. My instructor told me to leave it as is, and start a new one next week.

So I guess it's done. The painting got some nice comments on Flickr so maybe I'll try this grid-over-photo style again.

Dimensions: 12 x 12 inches
Medium: Acrylic on clayboard

Friday, July 26, 2013

How to Destroy Angels

This video incorporates glitch art in a concert staging. Rob Sheridan and Roy Bennett worked with Moment Factory to achieve amazing lighting effects and stage designs. I'm totally obsessed with it.

How To Destroy Angels - Demo from Moment Factory on Vimeo.

For his newest musical project, Trent Reznor put his trust again in Moment Factory for the first tour of How To Destroy Angels (HTDA). Their tour stopped in Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and at the Coachella Music Festival. The public saw an innovative and dynamic set design created under the guidance of the band’s vision and in collaboration with Rob Sheridan (HTDA & Nine Inch Nails art director) and Roy Bennett (long time Nine Inch Nails production designer). Moment Factory brought life to it with colourful shapes and a touch of interactivity, adding to the music's mystic.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leo, a portrait in mixed media

Last summer I decided to try mixed media at the Art Students League.

Given my figurative background, mixed media abstraction felt like a dark journey into the abyss. The instructor asked me to do a collage in black and white, and another in color. I could not resolve either piece since I found the process totally exhausting.

I've always admired artists who could combine painting, photography, and assemblage into compelling works of art. I was particularly inspired by Romare Bearden's centennial exhibit at the Met, and the Dancing Around the Bride show in Philadelphia, which traced the influence of Marcel Duchamp on the collaborations of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg.

I've also been following the video generative work of Sergio Albiac and the paintings Njideka Akunyil who combines photo transfers with flat expanses of acrylic to explore the contradictions between her Nigenian heritage and married life in the United States.

So last week I decided to try mixed media again, this time with Leo, a new model at the National Academy. I was aiming for something expressionistic, something like a collage version of Antony Micallef's Becoming Animal series. I did a quick grisaille underpainting, mapping out Leo's features and facial planes, then started superimposing a collage made of cut up brochures that I found in my apartment.

I could only work on the project for an hour at a time since the visual overload was intense. But I learned a few things:

- less is more
- a simple silhouette works best
- value is more important than color


- vary the scale of the cutouts
- think before you cut
- and really think before you paste
- but don't overthink (spontaneity is important)
- and don't neglect pattern, repetition, and negative space

So anyway, I reached a point where I didn't know what else to add to the piece. I posted some photos online. The reactions were rather mixed on WetCanvas, positive on Flickr, and surprisingly enthusiastic on Tumblr, with over 200 likes and reposts, mainly from graphic design and fashion bloggers.

Best of all, both the model and my teacher were quite excited by it, so I think I'll declare the work finished. On to the next one.

Try mixed media if you haven't yet. It might drive you crazy but it's also a lot of  fun.

Dimensions: 11 x 14 inches
Medium: acrylic and collage on clayboard

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quick Paintings at the National Academy

Here are four recent paintings, acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14 inches. All were abstract exercises based on the human head, basically a continuation of the glitch, expressionist, pixelated themes that I've been experimenting with over the past two years.

I was a bit surprised that the last piece got over 2,000 views on my website (the average being less than 100). That painting of Andrea was featured on Explore (the best of Flickr) and Tin Foil Sandwich (my favorite art blog on Tumblr). I guess I should push the crazy colors and fragmentation even more? There certainly seems to be an audience for that. It's always fascinating, and humbling, to get anonymous online feedback well beyond the concerns of art school.

At any rate, thanks for looking. I'm excited about picking up my brush again this Saturday, with new models.