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Creative Projects

The biggest question that this course has made me ask myself is “What is art?” I thought I knew, but I really had no idea.  I was convinced that art needed to be technical, substantial, and relatable to everyone.  Now I feel exactly the opposite.  By observing different types of art, like architecture, dance, and photography, I realized that art is about the transfer of emotion.  While skill and substance is often very helpful in conveying your thoughts and feelings onto a physical or tangible medium, all that is required is inspiration and creativity.  This is what makes art timeless; human emotion remains constant throughout time, so true art can always be appreciated because the desired effect will never fade.  This idea is what inspired me to join Anthony in action painting.  I wanted to do something I had never done before: create a medium on which I could bring forth my own emotions and share them with others.

I was never a fan of action painting and abstract expressionism, but I did like Jackson Pollock.  After watching his video in class, I became interested in his process of taking emotion and literally throwing it on a canvas.  It’s like creating something tangible out of things that I can hardly describe in words, and that interested me.

I thought I would feel more comfortable action painting instead of creating an image using more conventional methods because I think conventional methods are judged more harshly.  I would be too worried about what people would think and wouldn’t be able to just bring out my feelings.  And I was definitely glad I made that decision; action painting is so natural to me, it’s as though I’m speaking through the paint.  There are many techniques that I developed which all represented my emotions in ways that I didn’t think paint would be able to capture.  Sharper, quicker slashes created angry lines; smooth movements reflected softer emotions.  Using the thin side of the stick created thinner lines, which I liked to use for feelings that were present in my body, but in a very subtle state.  For the more dominant and outspoken emotions I used painted with the thick side facing the canvas, which created thicker lines and more splatters. These looked stronger than the thinner, more fluid lines, and they showed more on the canvas.  I liked the surprisingly large amount of variety in techniques, as well as the freedom to do whatever I wanted.  My style isn’t right or wrong, and different people will take it differently. I like this concept; I feel like my art is worth more when people can take it and apply it to themselves, as opposed to the more conventional styles, which are judged on the standards of society.  When people look at my art they won’t evaluate the quality of the paint, they’ll take it and let it inspire them, which I find delightful.

But even though my technique was unique, it wasn’t easy to develop. When I began the project I still had a lot of misconceptions about art that held me back.  For example, I realized I was way too focused on how the painting would look, instead of how I was really bringing my current emotions forward.  It took me a while to realize that if the art honestly reflected my personality it would look much better than if I had tried to make it look pretty.  When I looked at Anthony’s paintings, I saw that he was much more relaxed than I was and he just let himself go.  This made his work seem more genuine, and in my opinion his paintings looked better for the same reason.  To fix this problem, I began painting with my eyes closed.  I thought that if I couldn’t see the canvas, I wouldn’t worry about how the paint was going to land on it.  I instead just struck the canvas using techniques that I found conveyed my feelings, and used colors that I thought fit the mood I was in.  In the end, I thought that the second painting came out better than the first.  I feel like it’s more genuine and it can be interpreted in a variety of ways, as opposed to the first painting which was held back by my concern with aesthetic appeal.  It was also difficult to master the techniques that I used.  Getting the paint exactly where I wanted it was no easy task, and it wasn’t until the final painting that I developed the ability to direct the paint.  One reason for having so many layers in my paintings were to cover up the mistakes I made.  If I the paint didn’t land in a way that reflected the emotions I was trying to convey, I needed to paint over it.  This made the second painting difficult because I couldn’t see what I was painting, but overall I would say the second painting was more relaxing because the way it looked wasn’t my first priority.  In fact, overall these difficulties enhanced the entire experience because now I feel more satisfied with the end products.

We also had to consider color.  Anthony and I felt similarly about the effects of different colors. We found that blue, purple, and orange sank into the canvas, while red, yellow, and green popped out.  We therefore used the more bold colors to express dominant emotions while having secondary thoughts and aspects of ourselves represented in the background.  The art form seemed really simple, but when we considered all of its different elements it became much more technical and complex.  We definitely were surprised by the challenge, but in the end we had some fantastic paintings.

Presenting these paintings went equally well.  I was very concerned about the class’s reaction to our paintings because they were so personal. I put so much of myself into this project that I wondered whether or not anyone but myself would enjoy it.  I began to fear that perhaps I didn’t put enough emotion into the art, and that my personality wouldn’t be conveyed very well.  However, the class seemed to appreciate our hard work, which was all I could ask for.  The video was a bit too long, but I liked being able to explain my creative process in my own words, which I felt was more personal and highlighted the paintings rather well.

This project is a representation of how much this class has developed and changed my opinions.  I was ignorant and apathetic towards art; I didn’t see the point because I couldn’t understand the work that artists put into it, and I really didn’t know what art was.  But throughout the course, and this project, I was able to learn how to appreciate art in all its forms. I realized that art isn’t easy, and it takes someone who truly understands themselves and their art to do it well. Hopefully, this project and this class has made me more like that kind of person.

Izaya’s Creative Project

For my creative project, I decided to make my own dance. Since 8th grade, I’ve been interested in break dancing and began taking lessons. When I was a senior in high school, I began taking interest in hip-hop. Many people don’t really know the difference between hip-hop and break dance. Break dancing involves more moves on the floor or in the air; basically moves that require more physical strength and ability. Hip-Hop focuses more on the dancing aspect rather than impressive physical moves. There are many styles of hip-hop dance such as popping, locking, waving, and housing.

My interest and enjoyment in these types of dance influenced me to want to make my own choreography utilizing these forms of dance. With this, of course, came many difficulties and obstacles. I wanted to make my own mash-up of the songs I was going to dance to. In order to do that, I first had to decide which songs I wanted to use and then I had to decide how long I wanted each segment of the songs to be. I didn’t even have good programs for creating mash-ups so the best I could use was Windows Movie Maker. I had a first draft of my mash-up with the songs “Closer” by Ne-yo, “Push the Feeling On Remix 2008” by Nightcrawlers, “Shots” by LMFAO, “Pon de Floor” by Major Lazer, and “Move if you Wanna” by Mims. I had a lot of trouble creating good transitions between each song segment because going from one song straight to the other sounded to abrupt. So what I did was I took the warping sound from “Pon de Floor” and used it as a couple of my transitions.

In my first draft of my mash-up I realized I could not fulfill the moves I wanted in one of the segments so I decided to take that song out. I was also dissatisfied with the ending segment as well as the beginning. Clearly, I still had some revisions to make. In my second and final mash-up I made Closer by Ne-yo (the first song) shorter, took out Shots by LMFAO, and added Like A G6 by Far East Movement as the ending segment. Since I already gained experience in making mash-ups from my first draft, I was able to revise it much faster with more precision. I was more satisfied with this mash-up in terms of transitions as well as its ending.

Then came the difficult part of actually choreographing to the music. I cleared out the space on my living room carpet back home and slowly but steadily made progress in my choreography. As I was making the mash-up I already began picturing how I would dance to each song but what happens in your mind ends up quite differently when done in real life. I started off slow doing a couple moves at a time and then practicing them over until I got them down. Some sections were easier than other to create moves to. There were some parts where I was simply stuck and unsatisfied with whatever dancing I did. This was no surprise as this was my first time creating my own dance. For some sections, I had specific move sequences planned out. Then I decided that for other sections, I would just dance a certain type of style rather than use specific moves.  Therefore my dance was sort of like a mixture between choreography and free-style but the free-style. Other difficulties I faced were fatigue. I was out of breath after just dancing for ten minutes and I had to take many breaks to catch my breath. Overall I spent a little over a weekend practicing and making choreography to this dance.

Then came the big day where I had to present. I wasn’t too nervous though because I’ve dance in front of crowds before (ask the class, they know what I’m talking about). What I was worried about was whether or not the class would like what I made. That’s one of my main motives when I dance, to entertain others. Not only does dancing on its own bring me enjoyment, but the enjoyment people get from watching me dance makes it all the more worthwhile. From my experience, I knew that I was bound to make mistakes or dance a little differently in certain parts. A performer must always be ready for improvisation in case things don’t turn out as planned. This somewhat applied to when I performed because I slipped when I tried to spin on my knee. I saved myself by going into another dance move that brought me back up. Also, I decided to change and add some moves about an hour before performing such as the floor slide. I should have practiced the floor slide more because it was pretty sloppy. Other than that, I think my performance went well judging by the crowd’s response.

I am really glad that we got to do a project like this because I was waiting for an opportunity to finally create my own dance. I’m always on the train listening to music and imagining how I would dance to it. This project finally drove me to do something. I think that I’m going to continue doing this every once in a while. I even created my own you tube channel to post my dancing online for other to see and comment.

Here’s the link to a recorded version of my performance:

Kate- Final Project

Nature is constantly changing, yet it always retains elements of beauty. For me, it is easy to be inspired by nature because it has many complex characteristics: different shapes, sizes, colors. I love being around nature and whenever I see something, such as the light hitting the trees a certain way, I always take a lot of pictures to try to capture the atmosphere of the moment.  As a result, for my final project I wanted to do something that could communicate this beauty and atmosphere of nature. I decided to focus on the impressionist style of painting and more specifically on the work of Claude Monet.

I chose this style of painting because impressionism focuses on capturing different moments in time and the way light effects certain objects. I chose to focus on Monet because most of his paintings depict nature. Also, I had already written the painting research paper on Monet. I enjoyed learning about impressionism and writing the research paper, which made me want to actually try the technique, instead of just writing about it. The research paper provided me with some helpful background knowledge of this painting style. Also, when I was a child my mom bought me a lot of books about art, including some about impressionism. Even though I had a lot of different books, I always liked looking at the ones containing Monet’s paintings the most. Each painting, even if it was of the same location at different times of the day, made me feel something new. Monet’s choices of color and brush strokes created movement in the painting, which brought the nature and its atmosphere to life. I wanted to see if, by imitating this style, I could have the same effect and capture nature better than with a camera.

The first thing I did for this project was review what kind of materials impressionist painters used. After this, I went to the art store and bought oil paints, canvas paper, three paintbrushes, and a mixing palette. However, in all my excitement about getting these new materials, I completely forgot to buy medium, or something with which to dilute the pain and clean the paintbrushes. As a result, the day I was supposed to start painting, I ended up running from store to store trying to find medium. This was unsuccessful. In the end, I did some research and made my own medium out of linseed oil. However, I could only use this to make the paint smoother and easier to spread across the canvas paper. I could not use it to clean the brushes. This presented a challenge because I could not use too many dark colors since they would affect the lighter colors and be harder to wash off of the brushes. In addition, this was challenging because I could not clean my brushes at all while I was painting. As a result, I had to be extremely careful not to mix too many colors with one brush because I could end up with and ugly brownish color, which I would not be able to wash off. Even though I only had 3 brushes and 24 colors that I could mix, I got past this challenge by using different sides of the same brush and using one brush for light colors and another for darker colors.

The next thing I did was attempt to copy a famous painting by Monet. I thought this would be helpful because I wanted to go outside and paint from nature, like Monet. However, I did not want to go outside and be in the cold weather with absolutely no skills or training. I chose to copy Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies mostly because Monet’s water lily paintings are some of my favorite works of art. They perfectly capture the beauty of water and all of the different reflections within it. Also, this painting had water, trees, and a bridge. I thought this combination of elements would help me develop some skills.

Even though I copied this painting, I chose to do it in my own way. I changed the dominant colors and tried to make the painting appear as if I were painting a sunset. I chose to do this because I love warmer colors. In this painting, I used quick short vertical brush strokes for the water and horizontal brush strokes for the lilies. I also attempted to use a white color to make some areas lighter than others in order to portray the effects of light. I used a lot of colors for the water to make it look like it was reflecting many different objects. Since every side of each of my brushes contained different colors, I simply rotated the brush wile painting in order to vary the colors that I used. One thing I learned from this painting was that my brushes were big and as a result made brush strokes that were too thick. However, I overcame this challenge in my second painting by being careful and sometimes only using the very tip of the brush.

For my second painting, I decided that I was ready to go outside. I could not wait to attempt to actually capture a moment in nature. However, once I went outside, I realized that there weren’t too many things that inspired me. Instead, there were only gray houses and a few bare trees. I did not want to paint something that did not make me feel anything. As a result, I decided to choose an old photograph and make a painting based on it. I chose a picture that I took around October in Pennsylvania when all the leaves were changing colors. I remember walking down the road, the weather was a little chilly, but the sun was still warm and I felt extremely happy because of the fresh air and the beauty of nature and its colors. In this painting I used vertical brush strokes for the grass and then brush strokes going in different directions for the leaves of the trees. Also, I once again turned my brush while painting in order to get a mix of colors. I tried to create and use colors that would project the happy mood that I experienced. I tried to imitate light by creating a shadow on the road, making the treetops a little bit lighter in color, and making the bottom of the clouds darker. Overall I wanted to convey the beauty of the nature and the effects of the sunlight and the happy atmosphere that they combined to create.

The presentation process made me nervous. I was scared of presenting my paintings because I don’t think that I have painted anything since art class in junior high school. However, at the same time it was also exciting because I would get a chance to show and explain my paintings. To do this, I decided to use a power point in order to show what the two paintings are based on. I think that my nervous side took over during the presentation process and I did not say everything I wanted to say. However, I’m still happy that I had the opportunity to present because it showed me that presenting something I painted myself is not as scary as it seems.

I enjoyed working on this project because it allowed me to paint, which is something that I have not done in a long time. I learned that I don’t have to be a professional painter or even a good one to enjoy painting. Even though there were a few challenges along the way, they did not make me want to give up. Instead, I liked the process of overcoming these challenges and using painting as a way of expressing myself. I liked painting in the impressionist style because it allowed me to focus on conveying the beauty of nature and the “impression” that it created on me, instead of on details. This project allowed me to attempt to communicate the beauty of nature and how it makes me feel to others in a new and more personal way.

We were told to start thinking about the creative project at the very start of the semester and so I did, but as the instructions for our creative project changed, as did my ideas. At first, when I thought the final project would have a research component, I was very much considering looking more in-depth at the work of Imogen Cunningham, who had caught my attention during my first visit to the MoMa. I had looked up some information about her before our MoMa discussion class and glanced over her other photos. I liked what I saw.

As the term progressed as did the instructions for our creative projects. The instructions changed soon after our painting papers, so Monet (the subject of my paper) was fresh on my mind. I wrote about the connection I felt with his paintings with ease and figured continuing with his work as an inspiration would be a pleasure. I still hadn’t fully abandoned the idea of also incorporating the styles of Imogen Cunningham. My first plan was to visit Central Park and photograph one location at different times of day. For those unfamiliar, that was one of the major techniques used by Monet when he painted, particularly in his series paintings.

When I put my idea to action, practicing with several trees I found I was not as satisfied as I had expected. At first, I tried using black and white settings, as I had seen with the works of Imogen Cunningham. However, in black and white the photographs appeared dull and distant. When I tried in normal settings, the colors weren’t as vibrant as I would have liked. I decided to start brainstorming new ideas. I went home and attempted to draw a tree myself. It came out satisfactory, but one piece of white paper seemed irrelevant, compared to the wall spanning work we have seen at the MoMa and at the Chelsea art galleries. Also, I realized that since I would be spending more than one day on the project, my mood would be changing and my color choices would vary. This was when I got the idea to recreate the tree but expand it to span nine pieces of paper rather than one.

As I began the project, I began to think up other details to add. In the end, I decided each paper would be a creation of its own. This explains why some parts of the trees have leaves leaves, while others are bare, and why there’s a moon while there is also a sun. Accommodating to my changes of mood was easy since each paper had a different theme, with a different color scheme and a different effect. I wanted to incorporate the various elements that I found most enjoyable in art as we explored its different forms throughout the semester. I chose to use nature, particularly a tree, as the subject of my project because I feel it is easy to relate to. I chose a tree because the feeling of stability created by the trunk is juxtaposed by the freeing, independent nature of the branches. I found that one of the most important elements I look for in visual arts is the use of color. While I liked the works of Imogen Cunningham I now realize I mostly enjoyed them for pure aesthetic qualities. It was much easier for me to find an emotional connection to the work of Monet.

The last component that tied together the final project was the presentation. I put some planning into this as well. I had originally planned to present my project and then begin discussing the process that went with creating it. Later, I decided it would be more effective to first talk about my inspirations and then present the work that came from it, as well as point out some details I find significant in my project. I felt comfortable talking to the class since we have all become fairly acquainted. I also waited to present a few presentations after Kate since she had also discussed Monet. I did stumble a little with my words, but final week tends to have that affect on me. I enjoyed presenting with the class and being able to describe why I made what I did.

Final project

Kevin Wang

Professor Jablonka

MHC 100


A Search for Meaning

I have never been an artsy person. When I first heard of the final project at the beginning of this class, I was bewildered. I had no clue of what to do and couldn’t imagine myself creating any work of art. However, as the class progressed, I have learned about the various arts and felt more comfortable with dealing and understanding art. When it finally came time to do the final project, I was not afraid to experiment with many new ideas. Eventually, I decided to do something that interested me very greatly because it allowed me to fully express myself artistically in my own way. I decided to make use of the Garage band application to create my own version of the song “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift and present a live performance of “Somebody to Love” with Ting, my classmate. I enjoyed the process of doing both. From the many works of abstract art that we have seen, I have adapted what I have learned to a musical context and learned how to create my very own song and improved my abilities as a pianist. While working on this project, I was at times not sure of how to take full advantage of the application and made mistakes. However, the songs eventually turned out to be very creative. The MHC class really opened me up and allowed me to experiment with many ideas that I normally wouldn’t have done, such as adding my own guitar solo in the middle of the “You Belong with Me” song. I am immensely satisfied by the whole classroom experience and especially from my final project. I truly felt that both of our songs are a great portrayal of the universal theme of love.

For the first part of the project, I decided to do the song “You Belong with Me” and create a version of the song with Garageband because it reminded me a lot of the theme of love and how love can often be very hurtful and depressing. The lyrics of the song were the most moving part of the song because of the way it weaved this theme of love into a story about longing for someone that does not love you back. In fact, after listening to the original song “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift, I decided that the song was way too happy-sounding. Loving someone that does not like you back can be a very confusing and can be very distressful and depressing. In my remake of the song, I decided to make it a lot slower and more melodic and minor sounding, to make it more reflective about the pain of love.

Pop music is often criticized by music critics as being shallow and not meaningful. However, I feel that it all depends a lot on the song and on the portrayal of the song and that pop music can be very meaningful and deep. In my version of the song, I included many instruments that do not really fit into a pop music context in trying to bring about a different meaning to the song than what was originally intended. For this reason, I included the piano, organ, and violin into the song. The organ set the tone of the song by soaring above the song with high notes that reflect the idea of the purity that constitutes love. The piano set a more of a classical tone of the song by laying out the foundations of the song. I used the violin to complement the melody of the song that Ting was singing and to add contrast into the second verse of the song.

For the rest of the instruments, I tried changing the overall tone of the song as well. For the bass, I added many minor elements into the baseline that gave the song a sad sounding touch. The hip hop kit that I used acted like the beating heart; its continuous pulse gives life throughout the whole song. For the drums, I made the beat a lot slower than the original so the time of the song seemed a lot heavier and more drawn out for the full effect of the song.

In the song, I also included a solo part with electric guitar. I tried to give the song a whole different tonality with the guitar solo. I gave what I felt was a response to the words of the singer and this is reflected in the guitar solo which takes on a whole different tone than what the song was until that point. As a result, the song gains a different perspective that adds an interesting contrast.

For the last parts of the song, in Ting’s solo, we decided to slow down the song even more and in effect, slow down time. I felt that this part is the song is when the singer can get more personal and express the song in the moment in a pure way that expresses their innermost feelings. The song is frozen at this point when the singer makes one final plea that “you belong with me” as the climax of the song. Then, the song goes back to its original theme and ends.

A constant problem that we have had with this project is the built-in microphone that was used to record the singing. This was a constant problem because the built-in microphone in the Macbook recorded even the instrumental part, which muddled the singing. As a result, we could not create harmonies of the melody, and the vocal of the song is also not as clear as it could be as well.

For the second part of the project, Ting and I decided to do a recording of the song “Somebody to Love” by Queen. In this song, we did more of a classical arrangement of the actual song and also included the guitar player, Billy Pearson, in our arrangement of the song. In this song, we remained true with the Glee arrangement of the song, but we could not include the harmonies because there was only one singer, Ting. As a result, we made the song slightly simpler than the full arrangement. However, I felt this live performance was good practice and gave us a glimpse of the actual world of performance and being in the moment.

In this life performance, I wasn’t nearly as worried as I’d normally be for a performance. This was because I realized that sometimes in art, there really is no such thing as a mistake. While it might seem to me that I played a note wrong, even wrong notes can add an unintentional element to the song that no one has tried before. And in the many abstract art pieces that I’ve seen, I’ve learned that sometimes, even a “perfect” portrayal of something might not always be the best portrayal anyway because life itself is not perfect. As it turned out, I did make many mistakes in our life performance. However, I realized that as long as I don’t give this away, it will be hard for anyone to even notice. The life performance turned out to be a great success as a result.

In the end, both of these works of art that Ting and I have created were highly satisfying and inspiring. I felt that the possibilities with creating whole songs and arrangements with just a keyboard and a laptop are very numerous. In recording a live performance, I have gained perspective of my own techniques. I learned that as long as one doesn’t stop in the middle of the performance, the audience will not notice and there will actually be no mistake visible at all. The broadening of my mind through MHC class was immensely helpful for my project because it instilled within me the idea that art doesn’t have to be perfect; that there are many dimensions of art and everyone has their own definition of art. There is no one correct art form.

~ Colors and the Canvas~

– Mariam Kirvalidze

Prior to this painting, I never actually set paint onto a canvas, even in my youth, and decided this was the perfect opportunity.  I went to an art store without really knowing what I wanted to purchase. In the paint section, I was able to choose between acrylic, watercolor, and oil paint.  I went with oil paint because learning about painting before, I knew oil painting was quite revolutionary and helpful to artists in comparison to what they used before.  Next, I purchased a canvas and a set of brushes.

I was indecisive of what to paint at first.  But I was sure I wanted to utilize a lot of colors and that I wanted to create a still life painting.  Thus, the white vase of flowers in my living room would be my inspiration, as well as a painting in an art book I tried to duplicate. I started by painting the background of my scene, to which I designated a white/pinkish color, just because I wanted something neutral that would tie all the colors together. I then drew the outline of the vase and began to paint it in with white.  I tried to vary the concentration of paint in different areas so that it looked more dimensional. I also dotted the top of the vase with blue simply because I always loved the combination of white and blue. After the vase, I moved on to painting the table surface.  I mixed a mahogany and a dark brown color to create a wooden table.  After painting the vase and table, I traced several leaves on the top of the vase.  I outlined them a dark green and shaded them in lighter but later added shades of brown, white, and brown to give them a more realistic color.  I then drew several flowers that stemmed from the leaves.  The first flower I drew was a light pink one.  I didn’t trace it well and when I drew it, it looked awkward when I placed it at a distance and looked at it.  I realized I had to do this much of the time- move back and observe what I had drawn.  Because it looked awkward, I tried to put a third petal on top.  Again, I mixed red with some white to achieve the coloring and kept some petals different because realistically, petals differ in pigmentation sometimes.  Next, I went off to the right and started to trace another flower with a different amount of petals.  This flower is dominantly purple with some white and yellow.  I always felt that purple and yellow were harmonious together and that they make a beautiful combination.  I feel like the aesthetic of colors mixing together is important in painting nature (botanics).  I kept up with this idea in painting the yellow flower with hints of rouge red, the white flower with purple, which mixed to create lavender, and the darker red flower with more purple.  Most of the flowers had hints of each other’s colors in them.  I also wanted to paint a flower actually on the table to give more movement (you can think of the flower falling in the first place) to the painting.  However, I made a mistake and tried to paint over it but the color I tried to paint over it with was darker than my original background.  I put this darker color above my mistake because my plan was to work downwards with the new color to cover the mistake but instead I created something that was worse than the mishap I started with.  The bottom half of the canvas looked a bit half in comparison to the top and I had to then match this to the other side. I learned a little late that with mistakes in oil painting, you can just wipe them off.  But because it is a painting, and like Pollock said, there are no mistakes in painting.  The darkness simply creates a more interesting contrast of the background.

I am glad I took this opportunity to paint because inartistic as I am, I never painted in my life although I wanted to.  Regardless of the fact that I would not say I can draw, I think painting can be looked at as recreational art and something I can consider doing more of in the future.  Simply accomplishing this little, simple artwork and being left with white streaks on my face and paper towels covered with paint make me proud of myself.

Even after a week of painting on the canvas, the paint was not dry and this surprised me.  I think maybe I should have used acrylic and I will utilize it in the future. Presenting my painting was a little nerve wrecking because I never presented a work of art of mine.  Also I found that spending almost two hours with the painting did not allow me to judge how well I painted or how the painting looked.  I felt simply neutral towards it.  In all, I was nervous about presenting and felt like I didn’t have much to say.

When we were first assigned this project, I had a head full of ideas. A set of paintings…a short poem…maybe even a dance if I felt brazen enough. No matter how out there I thought the idea would be, in this class I learned that art is subjective. So I had a few months to plan…

And I’ll admit I did nothing until the last few weeks. Lately, I’ve been dragged back into the music scene. Music has always been a big influence on my artwork, and after visiting the Yoshitomo Nara exhibit at the Asia Society, “Nobody’s Fool”, that I talked about in class I earnestly wanted to see how I could convey my favorite genres into my art style. I listened to almost every CD I own and came up empty. That is until I went to a punk/metal concert last Friday at Irving Plaza. The entire show was a utopia for my imagination. Posters, CD covers, sets, and even drumkits were decked out in slabs of color, lines, and designs. It was then that the idea to make my own poster came to mind. The concept of a little girl (myself?) followed soon after and I found myself pulling out old baby pictures to get the face and body looking about right.

I don’t have much of an art background other than my own personal interests, but nonetheless I have an obsession with combining realism with fantasy. Once I started sketching, the face and finger gestures (rock on, devil horns) only became all the more obvious. My blended purple, pink, and yellow background was just an experiment with backgrounds I wanted to try.

The video was honestly the hardest part of the project to create after I settled on an idea. I was so grateful to have google and some youtube tutorials at hand to help me out and from there spent a few hours playing around with the iMovie features until I came out with something I thought featured my piece the way it should. I wanted everyone to see the process first hand…somewhat. It isn’t just an idea and then BAM! A picture magically appears on paper. It takes a good amount of time and concentration. At least when I’m drawing.

Although I was confident that the video would stand for itself, I was still pretty nervous to present my project in front of the entire class. I know for a fact that my classmates all possess an insane amount of talent, and I was intimidated by that. All of these different backgrounds were bound to outshine me. When I draw, it’s for me. I’m hard on myself concerning many other things, but hardly ever art. It’s the only thing I do that can be disastrous but it still makes me happy, no matter what anyone else thinks. So, when I was presenting, unfurling my poster of a dark eyed little girl spreading the message of rock n roll with her chubby little fingers, I tried to keep in mind all of the discussions we’ve had. The only thing I can do is show you my piece and hope that someone understands it, that it speaks to someone on any level.

I haven’t drawn in months, and I was glad I could use this assignment as a way to get back into shape, so to speak.


P.S. I was listening to this album on repeat as I sketched. It’s incredibly versatile and kept me from driving myself to utter boredom in the graphite.

Marcin Roncancio.

“All art is quite useless,” is a quote by Wilde that I have frequently considered with regards to abstract impressionism. Does it apply in that context? Does art truly have a use beyond decoration, or a vehicle for the propaganda of the artist or his patron? These were the questions I sought to answer through challenging myself to not merely observe the process or research, but to attempt it.

Going through several museums and galleries of modern art I found myself searching for patterns, trying to discern meaning and order in a genre of art that quite deliberately flaunts its dispensation of such superfluities. I eventually reconciled my need for meaning in art in different ways. With Pollock I learned about how the process of painting can be more important than the final product; from that point on, the feelings the artist expressed through creation became the hidden focus of any piece in my view. Observing works of Rothko’s I learned how color and emotion could be as much of a subject of a painting as any model. Indeed it was Rothko’s art that struck me, and provided an antecedent for the basic form of my own paintings in this project.

I started knowing the basic form I wanted to imitate, but I personally needed a subject to express. My choice, also the title of the two paintings, was Love and Lack. Something so universal surely could be represented by color and its emotional connotations. My palette was simply of red, yellow, white, blue and black. The first half, the canvas of red and yellow and white, was Love. The second, composed merely of shades of grey and blue, was Lack.

Red is the passion, the indisputable symbol of love. Personally, however, my favorite color is yellow and is representative to me of warmth and uncomplicated happiness. I wanted yellow to be the primary focus of the painting, leaking into the other colors. Blue is counterpoint to red; as red was not supposed to be the focus of the first painting, blue was not the focus of the second. Grey, cold and lifeless was what I chose for Lack. It describes barrenness, a desolation of emotion to me, one that has never been touched by the light or love. Loss, a concept I chose not to portray, would perhaps have been purple in contrast, a mix of red and blue in combination with other vivid colors such as green and yellow as well, but tinged and tainted to suggest an old bruise—it would have been warmth, growth and passion, but with warped elements.

The framing colors, black and white respectively, were included to impress upon the viewer a sense of detachment from the painting. The subject is as I have mentioned universal, but my unique portrayal of it, my perspective on it, is not. The viewer is a voyeur, looking through a barred frame at my personal view. The frame of the first painting brings to mind the hackneyed phrase about seeing the world through “rose-colored glasses”—the viewer looks through the frames to see certain concepts tinged by colors and emotions that are not their own.

Up until now I have only discussed my initial choices and ideas regarding what I planned on doing; the result is not quite what I anticipated. The focus seems to have shifted, a great part of which is a result of my decision to include the black and white separations between the colors in the first and second paintings. I feel that the effect of the blended colors was diminished because of them—the orange in the middle doesn’t quite contain the correct balance I wished it to, and the effect I had originally wanted to include with the white portion is not clear. Trying to get in what I wanted was not only fiendishly difficult to attempt, but practically resulted in failure. I did not know that the border of the second painting would be white until I had done it.

A large part of the flaws I see are nothing more than a lack of practical knowledge in art. One thing this venture has utterly convinced me of was that despite a vague knowledge of structure and the use of symbols, I have no more idea of how to paint than your average chimpanzee. Whatever lingering thoughts I had about the lack of skill necessary to produce works of abstract impressionism, have evaporated. Blending red and yellow was never so complicated a task, achieving a straight line had never been as arduous; this experiment taught me a few valuable lessons, one of which was to avoid the banausic parts— to delve into theory rather than practice. How was I to know the proper way to layer color, to mix it, to bring mere pigmentation to a higher plane of meaning?

Regardless, I muddled through my paintings as best I could, and arrived at a piece that perhaps does not express my initially contrived idea, but something I could never have planned completely in advance. A painting is not meant to solely express what I mean it to, after all. A large part of abstract expressionism is about what he who views it wishes to see, and what part of the painting reflects his views or values is the part he is likely to take from it. In this sense, the bars in Love, which to me originally suggested the separation between the panes of glass in a window, might in fact represent the separation between different levels, or incarnations of love. If the black tinged red of the bottom pane can represent lust, does the pure white of the top represent the ultimate Platonic love? Are the colors and their placement representative of a flame? Or is the border between the gray and blue meant to be a horizon, does it evoke the view of a still and dreary shore? Looking at the works from a Freudian perspective, can the Love portion be a symbol for the culmination of the act of love, with the darker red at the bottom representing the baser instincts of desire and want, and the top, a bright burst of clear white the pinnacle of this? All of these are possible and are simultaneously the truth to one who can view it in one way while another may view the same work in a different manner.

Art is perhaps not useful in any traditional sense of the term. It performs no real function independently—it is only in conjunction with a person that art retains a purpose. To an artist that purpose is self-expression, release, catharsis. To the viewer it can be an affirmation of beliefs or feelings, an embodiment of his personal tastes, or the epitome of good aesthetics. The creative process itself lends all art some form of meaning, and through expressing and observing that meaning art is given its purpose.

This class overall has been an exploration of art, which at points inevitably incurred the discussion of what constitutes art in the first place. Part of it is in execution, in the process of the artist, but also the appreciation of others. In this vein, one could say that presenting our pieces in class and explaining our process to our peers was important in bringing up the level of our work; to us, they were initially another project, but in being shown off, and in conjunction with the feedback of the others the projects gained something that potentially made the difference between art and pointless decoration.

(Note: I’m VERY sorry, but I was not able to post my paintings. Hopefully my description will be sufficient for them not to be forgotten!)

creative project-nicole

About my interpretation of new york city project:

final paper1

by Darren Panicali

(Click the link below! ;-))

Duality paper (.docx file)

Here is the text of the paper, since it has come to my attention that some cannot open the .docx file (It’s a bit long, so I’m sorry if you have to scroll a while to see other people’s work – that was the point of posting the link in the first place!):

Darren Panicali

Professor Jablonka

MHC 100


My Creative Project: “Duality”

When I found out about this project, I immediately felt determined to create something that would help people to look at this existence differently. Too often in this world do we cut ourselves off from different perspectives and settle into a single comfort zone complete with its own myopic perspective, at least as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to break out of the mold. I wanted to feel. And I wanted to let these ideas breathe throughout my project. So I decided to make two pyramids.

Duality is really quite interesting if you think about it – but that’s just it: you need to put some thought into it, or you might just cast the whole thing off as simply a bunch of pieces of cardboard taped together with lots of paint and marker on them. My initial inspiration stemmed from Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, where I learned of a peculiar and intriguing kind of symbolism for the male form and the female form: An upward pointing character known as the blade – a “^” – designated male, and a downward pointing character known as the chalice – a “v” – designated female. Brown also made reference to the Louvre’s La Pyramide Inversée, a display of two pyramids with apices that almost touch (the smaller is oriented normally below, while the larger one above is suspended inversely, its tip facing downward). Based on the ideas of the symbols invoked by Brown, it could be said to represent the unification of the sexes. But I wanted to take the whole thing a few steps further and make it my own.

Duality’s two pyramids represent two separate microcosms that can be arranged in space to form several differently shaped macrocosms. I recently did a paper on the evolution of painting and its eventual culmination into abstract and often somewhat 3-dimensional displays, and I thought it would be interesting to take it to the next level and create a sort of painting with multiple spatial orientations to add another layer of depth to the idea of painting and what it can encompass. It was interesting to work with a pyramid because when looking at it head-on from the top, it seems like a 2-dimensional surface, and I did not hesitate to seize on this discovery and create a head-on painting on each of the pyramids. One pyramid dons many lines drawn into each other to create the effect of a rigid spiral. This pyramid is called “Logos,” for it epitomizes logic, mathematical calculations, and measurements in a clearly defined and mercilessly orderly pattern. It is only black and white, as we would think a purely logical world might seem. The other pyramid exhibits stipple-reminiscent splotches of color. This pyramid is called “Pathos,” for it signifies deeply felt and passionate emotion, which implies chaos and pandemonium, shown in the random and frenzied dabbling of paint. Its colorful composition possesses red, blue, and yellow, the three primary colors (as far as art is concerned) from which we can synthesize the multitude of colors that we can use to express our feelings in infinite ways through painting.

Duality adds a twist to Brown’s idea: Since both pyramids can be oriented either up or down, neither is always male or female; the roles can be switched. Or you could have two males or two females – a gender spin on the symbolism. And because one pyramid symbolizes logic and the other symbolizes emotion, depending on how you designate the genders, you can associate logic and emotion with one gender or the other. One pyramid’s base can be connected to the other’s base, forming a structure not unlike a diamond-shaped crystal, resembling a precious gem. A few friends also said it looked like an octahedral, a molecular conformation we had studied in a chemistry class, so perhaps there is also a science connection there. In this configuration, we see the formation of two opposite apices. This denotes one perspective of life: Suppose one pyramid is the climb (your journey and experiences) to the tip (your destination in life). If you reach that destination, there is an entire journey and destination that you are missing out on, which would be the other pyramid and its apex. The idea is that you can never be at both apices simultaneously, and if you associate being at both with happiness, you will not be happy until you can reconcile the differences between the two and be content remaining somewhere in between, especially in terms of logic and emotion. Whichever pyramid points up is the male, and whichever points down is the female, but they are always unified at the starting point of the climb, and this may portray the connection of the experiences and journeys of the male and female as the center of life and where we should look to find meaning. In another configuration like that of the Louvre’s pyramids, the female is above and the male is below, and the apices of both connect at the center, suggesting that the fully experienced and developed destinations of both the male and female forms is central to this existence and is the location at which we can expect life significance to be derived. It hints at the absolute ideal, the happiest marriage of logic and emotion – in a word, bliss. The shape also resembles an hourglass, reminding us that the sands of time really are falling and that our lives are finite. Interesting to note is that this configuration is much more difficult to maintain structurally, for perfect balance is required to preserve the shape, whereas the previous shape was well grounded; this could represent how it is more sound to rely on going between extremes as opposed to finding the quintessential connective single apex of both realms of life – logic and emotion, male and female. You could also place one pyramid into the other, which can symbolize sex on the one hand, or the domination of logic/emotion over its counterpart on the other hand, but you could never place one pyramid fully into the other; a little is always left over beneath the dominant pyramid, suggesting that even if you were to choose one path over the other in gender or in logic vs. emotion, you can never truly eradicate the other part of you, which will always exist somehow within you even if you were to try your best to hide or diminish it. What’s more is that the base material was a bunch of Cheerios cardboard pieces that we would typically throw away. I imbued so much meaning into something normally deemed worthless, and that is an essential message I wanted to convey – that we can mold our perspectives of things to change our realities as we please, which is a life lesson and skill I think we would all do well to learn.

I did run into a few issues along the way, but they only enhanced the meaning of Duality to me. The most excruciating dilemma was making the spiral. The lines had to match up from a head-on overhead view, but there was no easy way to draw those lines across the different faces of the pyramid, so I had to improvise and connect a series of marks I made while looking from above. It took several hours and I strained my neck from bending over Logos too much, but the process reminded me of life: You can try your best to reason things out rationally, but it won’t always work, and there are often hardships and pains that come with choosing that path. In fact, there are some errors in the spiral pattern, which just further boosts the idea that logic is not always flawless and can cause pain and havoc. And it just so happened that I made Logos first; so when I switched to Pathos, I was weary of the math and lines I was engaged in via the path of logic, so I let the orderliness go and let my emotions just flow on Pathos in disarray. And so it is with life: We shirk logic so frequently and resort to emotion to cope with our troubles because sometimes it’s easier to let go of reason and just feel. But disorder is still disorder, and you can’t remain in emotion forever. Balance is key, and I re-learned that from this experience. Another problem involved what kind of painting I would create on Pathos: Should it be emotional in a spiritual sense? Should there be symbols? Questions like these popped into my head, but it all solved itself after Logos was done and I was frankly too drained to worry about complexity anymore, so I created tri-chromatic chaos and figured that was what emotion really happens to be – a fickle and chaotic mess, but a beautiful one at that. The last issue was the flimsy aspect of the pyramids: They shake and don’t retain their structure all the time because I only used tape and did not bolster them with supports – a stylistic choice, for the presence of supports would be a detriment to putting the pyramids within one another. That was another thing I then noticed – how the pyramids were empty inside – and you could fill them with whatever your heart desired, as opposed to accepting what the character of the pyramid would have entailed if it was solid inside. But then I realized that the flimsy aspect gave them mutability, and I was grateful for the pleasant surprise, as this illustrated how these were not rigid paths in life but rather flexible ones.

Presenting Duality to the class was so rewarding for me. I was able to share an integral part of who I am with all the people who have been on this journey together with me in exploring art and its many facets. My biggest goal was to try to promote awareness of our capacity to change our perspectives of this world in order to accommodate our varied points of view and to achieve some semblance of happiness in this world that we were just thrown into all of a sudden at birth, without a single idea of what was really going on. And I think I accomplished that: People were really receptive and impressed, and I received plenty of positive feedback later on. Somewhere in that moment, I was thoroughly content with wherever I was between logic and emotion and between male and female in my life. And that made me happy. And I hope that I was able to impart something to all of the people in that room, to make a change for the better in their lives. As for the experience of actually doing the project, I really had so much fun making Duality, even if there were sometimes challenges that were agitating (which just made it that much more rewarding to overcome them and see a beautiful final product). I was determined to convey my profound messages using the powerful symbolism of my work; my drive was supremely resolute. And so I find that the many hours I dedicated to making the pyramids were most definitely hours well spent. Whether cutting, painting, measuring, stressing, etc., it was all totally worth it. (And now I have some new fixtures for my dorm room!)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what I find most significant about all of this is that I effectively made something out of nothing, as mentioned earlier, for as I understand it, art is simply what you designate as something to be scrutinized and to be given some sort of meaning. In the end, perhaps this really was just a bunch of cardboard and art media put together, but that’s exactly reminiscent of our challenge in life: This world is what you make of it; no one really knows the true nature of this existence. I try to remember this every day, so I can be content with how things are and not let my desires and negativity run wild, causing me utter grief and self-destruction. And so the essence of Duality is this: Will you see the world as devoid of meaning, or will you imbue it with your own? And will you be content with what you have chosen? There is no right or wrong answer; the choice is yours.

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