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Creative Projects

With my final project, I decided to do something that was not new to me, but that I had not attempted to do in around two years: write an approximately 10 minute play. I wanted to see if I was still capable of producing a quality piece, within my self-imposed page limit.

The most difficult part was, as it usually is when I start a creative writing piece, was deciding what to write about. My script went through many incarnations before I even opened a Word document to begin. I started off thinking that it would focus on the first meeting of a boy and a girl on a train. Then I was inspired by the real-life (and, frankly, hilarious) friendship between two people in my class at Macaulay-Hunter. I worked with the second idea for awhile, but it wasn’t until our class’ discussion on the last day that I was struck with inspiration. Up until then I’d been trying to find a way to incorporate what we’ve been learning about in this course so far into my final project. I wanted to write something that would encapsulate my Arts in NYC experience. The discussion we had was like a gift, and it also reminded me just how much of my inspiration tends to come from my real life. I’ve found that, unfortunate as it can be when one is working with a deadline, as I was, sometimes you can’t force creativity. While I would certainly have been capable of writing a play without that inspiration, it would have been much more painful, less enjoyable process.

The other major issue I had while writing was that of the format, particularly when it came so stage directions. I found that in the two years since I took my playwriting class in high school, I was no longer confident that I was using the correct format for plays. Beyond that, I was concerned about stage directions. I had been taught in high school that with playwriting, unlike with screenwriting, you shouldn’t restrict the actors with the stage directions. This intent, compounded with everything I’d learned in Rodney Cottier’s workshop (i.e. that stage directions are one of the actors most important tools when developing a character), made the writing of stage directions one of the most complicated parts of the project. Even though I knew that this play would never be performed, save for in front of my classmates, I wanted to be as true to the form as possible. I believe that I was fairly successful with the end product, but honestly, I felt hat I would have to see the piece performed before I felt comfortable making a judgment about that.

My presentation went fairly well, which I wasn’t expecting. I was nervous about having my piece performed in front of the class, because I am still just getting to know my classmates. In my creative writing classes in high school, I became comfortable over the four years I was with those kids, because I knew their tastes, and how they would react to something I wrote. This was entirely new territory, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well my work was received.

In conclusion, I’m happy with how this project went. I was able to scrutinize my writing process a little more closely than I am used to, and found some flaws in the way I normally approach a piece. I also feel that I got a better understanding of just how many different things a playwright must keep in mind while they are writing that a novelist, poet, or essayist does not. But I think that the most important thing I learned from this piece, however, was just how much I actually appreciate what we’ve been discussing and experiencing in this class.

Arts in NYC Final

Anthony Margulies

Prof. Judith Jablonka

MHC 100


Final Paper

Methods to Madness

Over the course of the semester we have learned a lot about art and what it means. One of the biggest insights that I gained was learning just how much art comes from within. It isn’t something that just happens. It has to come from within in order to truly be art and express something to the world around you. As such, when given the chance to impersonate one of my favorite painters, Jackson Pollock, I didn’t hesitate to find out just how exactly he was able to summon what was within him, and put it on canvas. My partner Matt, seemed just as eager to express himself in a way that didn’t conform to the rules and action painting seemed like the best way to do it.

Overall Matt and I hoped to learn about what goes into an action painting’s, like those of Pollock. Only by actually painting like him were we able to really understand how he might have come up with his ideas. The biggest thing we noticed was just how easy it was to express emotion using the painting techniques that Pollock used. By not conforming to any natural image, it allowed us to really just let the paint dictate what we were feeling. Sharp actions represented violence or anger; soft curves were a sign of our hearts in action. I actually really loved being able to express myself the way I did by using this style of painting. Not only did I not have to conform to the rules that I normally feel isolates me from art, but I also didn’t have to just repeat what someone else did. While I might have imitated Pollock’s style, all of my works are unique. This helped to teach me about just how personal art can be, and how much it truly relies on what’s within to be great art.

Not all of the process was so easy. The hardest problem was learning how to control the paint. Even by our last canvas Matt and I were only just beginning to understand and appreciate how much technique it takes to control paint the way Pollock did. While we did eventually come up with some minor techniques that allowed us control, we never once reached the level of Pollock in terms of control and that was our greatest challenge. It’s one thing to visualize your emotions and how you want them to be on the canvas, it’s another thing, though, to actually make it happen and using Pollock’s technique for painting made it nearly impossible. In the end though, by using some of what we learned at the MoMA about how paint appears on canvas, Matt and I were able to compensate for our lack of skill and managed to produce some really wonderful pieces for our series.

The final part of our project involved the actual classroom presentation and I must say I was quite nervous. It wasn’t because I thought our paintings were bad or that Matt and I hadn’t worked hard, instead it was the exact opposite. Matt and I worked extremely hard on this and we both thought our work looked great, but the fear that the audience would reject it was absolutely unnerving. After all, I am the only one who envisioned my paintings the way I wanted them to appear; anyone else could have thought they were garbage. Not knowing how the audience was going to react was really terrifying in a sense because my work was open to their interpretations, not just my own, and losing that sense of control was scary. Luckily for Matt and I though, the audience loved our work and I knew we had done as good job.

In all this semester has really served to open my eyes about art and has possibly donated a new hobby for me. Action painting really impacted me in a way few things have before and I will definitely consider pursuing it as a personal hobby. Despite the challenges it presents, action painting and art in general definitely serve as an important medium of expression and I have learned to respect and appreciate this form of communication much more. There’s no better place to learn about art than New York City, and I now plan on taking full advantage of that now that my eyes have been fully opened up to all of the possibilities that art presents.

This past week, I’ve been home alone studying for my finals, while my mom was away on a road trip. It was just my dog, Byron, and me in a spacious, yet lonely, house. While I lay on my couch in the silence, I thought of various ways I could incorporate either nature or animals into my final project. Both themes appealed to me in the various photographs and paintings we saw together in the MoMA and inside the Chelsea galleries. It was about 7 p.m. when my dog approached me with an anticipating expression on his face. It was time to eat, and as he tried to grab my attention by persistently handing me his paw, he handed me the idea for my project.

I planned to make a sort of documentary (which I ended up naming a “dogumentary”) about how I interpreted a day in his life. I figured a PowerPoint presentation would be the most organized way of presenting my photos of him, while giving my lots of room to design the background and captions. In my head, an actual scrapbook is the ideal setup for displaying photos if had more time. Therefore, to substitute a physical scrapbook, I would design my PowerPoint in a way that resembled one. I piled them several photos on top of each other in every slide, as if the photos were thrown around on a scrapbook, and I gave each slide a title that reflected what I thought Byron was thinking at the time the pictures were taken. I thought that, if anything, this project would be a successful bonding experience.

I faced several challenges, ones that mainly related to the current weather and Byron’s lack of desire to comply. While taking some of the photos outside, I had to hold both Byron and the camera steady, so as to capture his actions without dropping the camera or letting him run off into the street. The cold was not my friend that day, because it felt like I chose the coldest day of the year to take photos without mittens. Most of the time, it was difficult to get my dog to stand still. He is quite rambunctious and jittery, because he is still relatively young. Many of my attempts to take photos of him resulted in him turning away from boredom or simply running off to something else that’s more worth his attention. I was able to move past his unexpected behavior by getting his attention through encouragement, either by calling his name numerous times or luring him closer with doggie snacks. Those always win him over.

I am generally not a fan of presentations, because I have stage fright. However, something about the presentations before me made me feel at ease. Everyone’s creative projects were very personal, so the entire class felt more relaxed and less formal than usual. The technology aspect of the presentation setup made me a bit nervous, because connecting computers and flash drives doesn’t always go as planned. For instance, today I wasn’t able to show a video of my dog howling, which disappointed me and took a little out of my presentation. Once my PowerPoint got started, however, I had no problem speaking about my project process and experience. To be honest, I was actually excited, because it was something I was proud to share with our class.

-Polina Mikhelzon

For my final seminar project, I decided to make a phenakistoscope. I learned how to make one over the span of this past semester and enjoyed it the most out of the other projects I’ve attempted, so I decided to give it another try and share with the class how it’s created and how it can be manipulated.

The first step to making my project involved coming up with a concept of what the moving image and the theme would be. I’m really fascinated with the ocean, so I figured that the center of the circle would involve a lot of oceanic colors; whether or not they would be abstract or concrete was yet to be decided at that point. Once I decided on an underwater theme, the first thought that came to mind regarding the “moving” image was Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film, Ponyo, which is basically a Japanese interpretation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The scene I chose occurs at the beginning of the movie, just as Ponyo is about to encounter Sōsuke and experience a moment that will change her life.

Almost everything after the concept involved technical work, but I faced most of my challenges in trying to get them done. Once I took screenshots of the scene on my computer, resized them, and cut them out to the shape I wanted, I needed to figure out how big my circle would have to be. I think this was my most difficult obstacle because I didn’t have a circular shape to trace, so I needed to be confident with my estimate. The thickness of my paper was also a consideration I needed to make. If I used thick cardboard, it would have been incredibly difficult to make clean cuts, but if I used flimsy paper, the project would be infeasible. I decided on poster board with cardboard support for the back so that the circle can stand vertically without flopping over. Once I carefully cut that out, I figured out an abstract painting scheme of oceanic colors with brighter colors filling the center and darker colors filling the edge so as to provide a contrasting background for the images around the border.  Getting past the technical details of creating a phenakistoscope and getting to the design portion of it was definitely the best part of my experience. Engrossing myself in painting is one of my favorite activities because it allows me to escape my mind temporarily and enter a world of serenity and unrestricted color.

Presenting my work was an interesting experience for several reasons. I was able to see the reactions of my classmates about the idea and the concept, which was exciting. It also felt refreshing to simply present my work as opposed to subject it to criticism the way I’m used to doing it in my art class this past semester. I didn’t necessarily have a plan about what I was going to say, which is unusual for me when I prepare for presentations, but I realized from how I felt about presenting it without preparations how comfortable I had gotten with my classmates. I really respect the views and opinions of the people in our seminar and I know I’m going to miss them now that our class has ended.

As for how I feel about my completed work, I’m not necessarily sure that the ending product was a success, but the process itself was enough to feel “successful” in my eyes. I like the idea of work never being fully completed or perfect, like an ongoing process that can always be modified, improved, worsened, or transformed. Something about that is very interesting.

by Ali (again)

I wanted to make something, and I couldn’t. But in the process of attempting to make that thing, I made some other things. And I feel that, despite their original intent as practices for the piece I was planning, they carry artistic validity in their own right.

What I had originally had been planning was this:final project

But there were a bevy of sketches and paintings that lead up to this; more specifically, 4 pen sketches, 2 watercolors and 2 graphite painting/drawing hybrids. So in this particular discussion of the creative process I’m going to talk about the piece which I thought came out best. (cue my initial post)->http://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.edu/jablonka10/2010/12/19/creative-final-project/

The prospect of giving this presentation was a nightmare for me; I’ve always been very guarded about my artistic process. I think part of what I wanted to do with my original project was to delve into my own experiences, if not making a literal self-portrait at least exploring the surroundings in which I was raised. While in no way nostalgic for the tedium and conformity associated with suburbia, living in New York City has made me miss things I had not though I would miss: open spaces, unoccupied places, ungroomed vegetation. I mean, Central Park is beautiful but it’s primary function is still as a habitat for humans. As I mentioned in my Chelsea response, I think there’s a beauty and a sickness to isolated natural environments. It was even worse when my piece did not pan out; part of what I have always found solace in with regards to the visual arts is that a piece can often speak for itself, allowing you to not speak. With this, not only was a I required to speak, but I had to speak about my own process, and my own artistic failures and triumphs.


Painting on Silence

I knew from the moment our final task was announced that I would work on a painting. I’ve dabbled in several forms of visual art in the past, and painting has always been my favorite. I think that is because of its emphasis on color. The medium allows so much more to be expressed with color than can be captured with most other art forms. And something about blending colors, guiding paint along a surface, and layering pigments is so soothing. I chose painting because I love to paint, and I do not get the chance to do it often.

Since this would be my first painting in a while, I wanted it to be meaningful. So I found inspiration in one of my favorite quotes, one by conductor Leopold Stokowski; “A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” This quote resonates with me because it links art and music, both of which I love, and puts such an interesting perspective on the very abstract art of music. I decided I would paint the creation of music on silence, represented by a musician painting his music onto the sky. I placed him in a wooded setting because it seems to me the most natural representation of the world. I toyed with the idea of placing him in a city for a while but decided it would detract from the idea of sending music out into the world. And in my opinion, the wooded view typical of New England is the most beautiful thing in the world. I love escaping from the city to Vermont with my family.

This painting took me just over two days to complete. I chose a long, horizontally-oriented panoramic canvas because it would allow me to focus on the expanse of sky I would paint (and the forests of Vermont that I adore). I should also note that this was my first time painting on a stretched canvas, and found the new texture pleasing to work with. I had only ever painted on paper, panels, and theatrical canvases. I used acrylic paint because I am most comfortable with acrylics. I began with a dark blue wash over the entire area I would cover to give the color of the final product more saturation. I spent the most amount of time on the forest – it was difficult to paint a realistic forest because of the variety in shape, size, texture, and color of trees found in real forests. But I’m rather please with the way it turned out. I painted the river with very watered-down acrylic paint to be able to express more movement. The sky took a while as well because it was difficult to paint exactly the right gradient since I was only using primaries and black and white. When I was happy with it I continued on to the figure sitting in the foreground and the music coming out of his sax.

I’m glad I had the chance to paint again this semester. I have never had any formal training in art – art classes were impossible to get into in high school and I could never afford lessons. So it has always been difficult to improve as an artist. This project, by forcing me back into painting, has made me determined to do everything I can to start taking art classes at Hunter. It has forced me to do something I love but was reluctant to pick up again out of frustration. And for that I am extremely grateful. Art, and especially painting, brings so much into my life. Once it is back, it makes me realize that without it I was living in silence.

“Duality” Presentation

by Darren Panicali

Duality (pptx file)

Or try this:

Duality for old ppt (ppt file)

Creative Final Project

By Ali Simon-Fox

While certainly excited by the idea of this project, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I figured I would incorporate my interests into a project that both let me work in my forte and pushed me beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone.

I decided on trying watercolor. I could never really paint well, so watercolors had always been out of the question; if you can’t work well with acrylic, what’s the likelihood of being able to paint with watercolors? But I felt that I should put myself up to some sort of challenge with this project, if for nothing else than the fact it would give me something to write about, so I embarked on my first attempt at watercolors since that compulsory middle school art class.

Upon analysis of previous failures, I came to the conclusion that a large part of why they turned out so poorly (or rather, didn’t make it past a few strokes before being discarded) was because I had no game plan. To avoid a similar fate this time, I drew a rough sketch of what I wanted. I know a lot of people who draw a rough sketch then start with a blank canvas; it seemed more pragmatic to me to just paint on the sketch. The problem with watercolor is that you can’t just paint over things as you can with acrylic or tempera, so, aside from making sure I used the pencil very lightly, I didn’t shade anything in the sketch. Instead, I blocked things out by color, breaking down the picture I planned to create into geometric shapes.

After I had made my pencil contour I began to actually paint. Since it had been a long time and they are a notoriously runny medium, I was rather tentative with both the amounts of paint and water used and the boldness of my strokes. I made relatively tight movements in regards to the actual rhino; I wish I had had access to smaller brushes to create finer detail, but I used the smallest brushes I could find, and I at least tried to make the monks and temple on the rhinoceros’ back more than tiny blobs. The background I was considerably more lax with.

This is my finished project:

Even though I generally trend more towards the edge of realism, I figured I’d give whimsy a go this time. In terms of artwork, I tend to equate any thing fantastical with animals. I especially have a fondness for drawing Pachyderms. This fondness has translated into a relative expertise, since we tend to draw/cut/photograph/paint etc. what we like (as evidenced below):

I figured I would continue pursuing this fascination with giant, wrinkly ungulates for this project. Since I was playing with a new medium, I thought I should pick a topic I both enjoy and have (albeit at teeny tiny amount of) experience illustrating. Since I found the idea of just a plan rhinoceros kind of boring, I decided to combine it with my interest in eastern-central Asian life and art by making the rhinoceros’ humps into mountains in which a Buddhist monastery was situated. While the monastery was based on pictures I had seen of one located in Bhutan*, the sky was inspired by pictures my friend had taken in Nepal. I was shocked by the sunset being in all primary colors; though there are definitely some wild sunsets here, they are usually oranges and pinks and are more blended than the ones in the photographs I was shown. I figured that Nepal and Bhutan were geographically proximate enough that to pair the monastery and the sunrise would not be too geographically anachronistic.

Anyways, I like rhinos. I like sunsets. I like things that evoke that Shangri-La vibe. And so I made this painting. I hope you like it. I think it was cool of professor Jablonka to give us a final project that allowed such for such open-ended ideas and self-expression, and while a bit sad to see this seminar coming to a close, I’m very excited to see everyone’s presentations tomorrow.

*I was painting mainly based on Paro Taktsang, which is this Dzong-style temple complex wedged into the site of a Himalayan mountain. It’s actually some of the coolest architecture ever. here’s a picture of it ->

To post here…

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