At the end of every semester I like to reflect on how I have grown as an artist through my art classes. This semester I took Color and Design, which is a required foundation course for any studio art major. Color and Design is a class that reinforces our understanding of the elements and principles of two-dimensional design as well as color theory.
So far in my artistic journey I have taken two studio art classes: Drawing I and Color and Design. The best part of both of these classes was the open-ended projects. For every project we are allowed to draw inspiration from anything for our subject, as long as the project follows the specified criteria.
The first project for my Color and Design class focused on simplified forms similar to a logo. We were only allowed to use black tempera paint, using the white of the illustration board for the negative space of the image. For my first project I looked to my sketchbook to draw up an idea of what I would do. Originally, I was only going to do an animal, but as my sketches evolved I decided to implement a man-made object with a natural one. My completed first project turned out to be an angler fish with an energy efficient light bulb.
Energy Efficient, tempera on canvas - Sept. 2016
Throughout the semester my professor stressed the technical aspect of each piece to create a clean look. One of the most stressed technical aspects was making sure the paint dried flat without brushstrokes. Personally, "technical" has been a challenge for me because I am a haphazard artist. I prefer being fluid when making art, which leads to messes and "mistakes" that I've learned to turn into new spontaneous elements of my work. Regardless, I tried my best to make my work as clean as possible.
Planning my second composition using Sketchbook Pro
The second project we were assigned focused on structure and pattern. For my own work I used a simple grid pattern to create my background. I like to have my work reflect a story or element of my life. For this project, I wanted to break up the pattern by using a silhouette as the focus of the piece. I used the story of Red Riding Hood as my inspiration, with the wolves as the repeating structure of the background and Little Red as the silhouette. I had to play around with contrasts of black and white in order for my figure to stand out. I feel my project was a success, as it is now on display on the second floor of Lycoming College's Snowden Library!
Progress shot of my painting - Oct. 2016
Project three gave us a nice break from painting, but it was by no means easy to accomplish. For this project we had to create a portrait from printed information of the person. The purpose of this was to practice putting together and matching grayscale tones in order to create a portrait from a chosen image. I wanted to stray away from using just text so I chose to make my portrait of an artist with his work. My inspiration came from Andrew Salgado, a living artist who is constantly posting images of his work, including small painting details, on his Facebook page. I love the textures within his work and thought it would work well to develop my portrait. This project took the longest to complete because it is comprised of roughly 400 1x1 squares that were hand cut. I "broke some of the rules to complete this piece because I overlapped squares in some places to create a better transition in the face. (After turning it in, my professor actually commented that he liked that I overlapped them instead of staying in the grid.) I am not ecstatic with how it turned out in the end, but if you squint hard and turn your head you can kind of see the portrait. Everyone felt this project was the most challenging, but we made it through!
Completed composition of project three, Oct. 2016
In order to practice color mixing, we started out with only using black and white, using a grayscale. After our third project we finally moved on to color! Before diving into our fourth project we had to create a color scale. The point of creating numerous scales was to practice mixing color. The task is tedious, but when put together they can be used as a reference whenever you want to use color in your artwork (and they also look pretty cool as a set).
Color Scales, Nov/Dec 2016
Our first color project was a radial circle split into 16 parts. Each of the slices had to contain the same logo either blown up or shrunken from the original reference. This project forced us to practice matching colors of a logo as well as somehow creating a color gradation (either black and white or rainbow colors). For my project I used a logo design I created in high school. Again, I love to keep my artwork personal. My first attempt at this project was a disaster!!! I bought a different tone of blue tempera but it was so watered down I could not build up enough layers to make it dry flat. I also did not have a solid plan laid out for my color transitions, so the overall design was confusing. Frustrated with my product, I asked my professor if I could re-do the project. Of course he said yes, and even suggested that I do it again for my final project - just bigger. I declined because I already had an idea for my final, but I din't want to turn in a failed attempt at a project when I knew I could do better! Overall, my second attempt was more successful because I completely overhauled the idea of my color transition.
First attempt at Logo Pie, Nov. 2016
Final attempt at Logo Pie, Dec. 2016
The most useful skill that I learned in this class was how to build my own frames. Before taking this class, the highest level of construction equipment I had used by myself was a hand drill. For Color and Design, our professor taught us to use a compound miter saw and a belt sander. At first, the industrial equipment looked intimidating, but after using the tools once or twice I became more comfortable. It is also helpful to know that the professor will always help out if you feel you need it. Don't be afraid to ask!
Our final project for this class. The only rules? Have a size of at least 20x20 inches, use color, and implement other things you have learned throughout the semester in your design. For my project I decided to create a series of paintings that are solid in my technical skill. I wanted to exemplify my new skills in creating clean-cut works of art, from the actual painting down to the craftsmanship of the frame. My final project features simplified portraits of my four nieces with flat backgrounds. The colors I used are all analogous to each other as well as having the same tone of color. I feel that I was successful in my line work and in creating a "clean product, frame and all!
All four portraits of my final project, Dec. 2016
This course has made me realize that I AM able to control my brush. I am no longer intimidated by technical art projects. I just know that I have to give myself extra time to complete them. College level art courses have taught me the importance of time management and deadlines. I find that, as a growing artist, I am able to turn any assignment into my own interpersonal creation. Instead of losing my personal style, I am evolving it into something more refined!
Classes like Color and Design have caused me to grow as an artist in a short amount of time. If you think that the art major at Lycoming College could be the right program for you, pay us a visit and find out more. You can even join us in the studio for a day when you come!