Here's a sneak preview of an initial sketch for a holiday greeting card series I am thinking of producing this year. I would love to have your thoughts and input in the comment section. This was done on my VAIO Paper application I use for taking notes, making lists, and generally staying organized on my laptop. I can't describe the satisfaction I get from completely erasing the task, as opposed to scratching it out with line after line of ink. Oh, how I love my OCD! I am thinking of doing 3 designs this year, maybe more, depending on time AND your interest!
I am also thinking of doing some sort of cat design, too. I have despised our little feline friends ever since I can remember waking up to the neighborhood strays laying on the hood of my first, second, and third cars. And then I bought the house that the neighborhood strays came from. (The cat hoarder.) The smells from that house still haunt me in my dreams.
I sanded the floors with a large (rented) orbital sander to get the cat urine stains out (among other things.) In a particularly bad area near the backdoor, the sander kicked up so much dust that even with a mask over my face I could feel the putrid smell of ammonia overcome me. To escape passing out from the fumes I ran outside and left the orbital sander spinning hectically in the kitchen.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because despite all of this damning evidence, I caught myself feeling warm and cuddly inside after looking at pictures of cats on the internet yesterday. You let one six-toed cat stay with you for a couple weeks and that's how it happens. Let this be a warning to the rest of you NON-CAT LOVERS. Stay strong, cats have a power like no other...
CWOS is a month-long art festival in New Haven. This past weekend I saw a lot of art and met with many artists and friends, some new and some old. It was a good time and if you have the chance you should check it out. I wanted to talk about a few of my favorite pieces this week.
This is by Claudia Cron. I love the color yellow. That is one reason why this artwork resonates with me. Another is that it is a very high contrast image, there are basically only two values. A very dark black, and a very light yellow. I also like the way the background "gradiates" around the dragon head.
This is by Thomas Stavovy. The first thing that arrests me about this piece is the wonderful shade of blue that conjures up underwater images in my mind. The variation of value, color, saturation, and size is very pleasing to my eye, too. It creates a sense of depth that allows my eye to wander from circle to circle without wanting to stop long enough to distract me.
Where else are you going to be able to find three selfies at the same time. That's why I love looking at art, it changes my perspective of my surroundings. This particular sculpture was an installation in one room of the Artspace gallery, where one piece from each artist participating is on display. I like the use of saturated colors and mirror surfaces on organic objects that really adds a sense of whimsy. WE NEED WHIMSY IN OUR LIVES! There's too much death, politics, and taxes not to have it.
How to Talk about Art (Value)
I feel like value is the most important aspect of an image. That's probably why I saved it for last in my three part series How to Talk about Art. Value is what leads the viewer's eye to the focal point. Without value your eye wanders aimlessly. The best way to see value is to squint. In fact, the best way to see anything is to squint. It is how artists see the basic shapes when they draw from life.
Not sure of title or date.
This is one of my favorite images. It is arresting because it makes my eye go directly to the astronaut's face, which seems to have a look of awe on it. Here's the reason why.
When you look at it in gray-scale, it is easy to see the darkest value is the astronaut's suit. It's basically black. This contrasts with the value of the astronaut's helmet, which is basically white. My eye goes straight to the area's of greatest contrast, (so does yours!)
Even when this image is blurred-out you can still make out everything because each shape has it's own distinct value. The astronaut is extremely dark. His helmet is extremely light. The planet he is on is a lighter mid-tone whereas the planet in the distance is a darker mid-tone. The sky is almost as dark as the astronaut.
How to Talk About Art (SHAPE)
Shape is another important aspect to art. It is easy to talk about and sometimes overlooked. Let's take a look at another artwork from the exhibition somewhere between creation and destruction. [On view at the Joseloff Gallery at UHart until October 26th] It is an exhibition where artists have used cut-paper to create various works of art.
Steel and Bookpages
This has a rectangular shape made out of iron. It looks industrial to me. Industrial is ARTspeak for anything that is made out of metal and/or rusty. (See-that's where the bullshitting comes in.) The overall shape reminds me of a house. Take a look at this work-of-art I made. (I use work-of-art very loosely here.) What does Comber remind you of?
I would describe the shape below as a very long, sinewy shape. The fact that the artist chose a single color (black) makes the silhouette the focal point of the piece. The back side of the paper is painted in red and green. You can see the red and green light bounce off of the gallery wall which aids in the silhouette effect.
Cut and painted paper
Shape is an important aspect of any work-of-art; don't forget to talk about it!
How to Talk about Art (COLOR)
The toughest concept to grasp at art school was how to look at, and then talk about art. (It has proven to be the most useful.) An artist who has a trained eye is not a cliche. I remember one time my instructor Dennis Nolan told me how he saw red and blue in a picture of a chrome pot I was trying to paint. I agreed, knowing full-well that I did not see any of those colors. I took his word for it because he is a wizard, or at least so-called by his adoring students. I painted those reds and blues into that pot and boy did it turn out to be the best pot I've ever painted in my life! Not that I have many to choose from.
To Jump or to Fry
You can see the red directly behind the egg and the blue to the left and right of it in the shadows. The idea behind this illustration was that the egg got away from the frying pan only to discover there was only one way out, and it was down.
The point of that story is that NOW I can see those colors, too. I think a lot of it has to do with learning to mix colors for a painting. When I see a color, I always think about how it would be mixed if I were to paint it.
Take a look at this work by Jen Stark. This is a pinwheel-like object that has about ten colors in it. See what I did there? I identified how many colors there are (well I guesstimated, a little bullshit never hurt anybody right?) Identifying what you are looking at is key. I know it seems obvious, but it is a crucial step! I guess you could say that it was the colors of the rainbow but if you wanted to sound artsy and in-the- know, you should go into a little more detail than that. I would say, "I like how the colors gradiate from warm to cool. [It appears that I have made up this word, as I can't get the squiggly red line to disappear from underneath it. I'm sticking with it though. Now everyone repeat after me--> Gra-di-ate = to radiate outwards (or inwards) a gradient of color and/or value] The circular shape has a gradient from light to dark as well as from white to yellow to red to violet to blue. An easier way to describe this phenomenon would be to say it went from warm (yellow-orange-red) colors to cool (blue-green-violet) colors.
The pinwheel shape of the inner part of this piece has a color scheme opposite to that of the outer circle. It moves from cool colors on the outside to warm colors on the inside. Here is a bit of a trick question for you. Is the center of the pinwheel cool or warm?
Well, for starters, what color is it?
Or is it even a color at all?
That last one was just to mess with your head. The center is white and for our purposes we won't debate whether white is a color or not. Warm and cool is RELATIVE! Thank you Doug Andersen for drilling that into my head! The white appears cool in this artwork because it is next to a warm yellow.
By the way, the title of the piece is called Glow. It was made in 2014. I always look at the title of the artwork last. I guess it gives me the ability to see it in an unbiased fashion, sometimes artist's titles suck. (YES, even mine.)
Landon R. Wilson
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