Short Story – Family’s Honor

Verona, Italy, 2012

He sat lazily in his leather armchair between his pitch black office walls, holding a glass of whiskey and gazing out into the cloudy sky above the grandeur of the Capulet Industries. The usual arrogant frown was on his face, but this time it had a hint of melancholy in it. He stood up, turned around, and massaged his eyelids with his hands, getting tired of the dull, grey sky.

It was starting to rain.

He walked towards the window. Unintentionally, he saw his nametag placed on his desk: Tybalt C., Vice President. Would this name end up on wanted posters all across town? Would a spoiled Capulet child get this office, just like all the Capulet children who have their marvelous lives set up for them from the moment they’re born? Tybalt tried not to let those distracting thoughts bother him and closed the window as one last cold breeze smelling like a mix of metal and damp soil snuck in.

The wind blew right into Tybalt’s face like a blade. It didn’t help Tybalt. Now thoughts of all sorts were mixed up together like tangled strings in his head. He started walking back and forth in his office, breathing restlessly.

I know what I am. I tend to be more quick-tempered than others, but I’m not an impulsive fool, he thought to himself. His brows twisted into an even more puzzled frown like an unbreakable knot. To calm himself, he sat down on his white couch at the other end of the room. It felt like he was embraced by a bed of feathers. His anxiety was lessened by the comfort, but his mind was still busier than the machinery outside. It’s Juliet’s life. I’m not like the elders. Children’s lives aren’t to be manipulated like dolls, he thought. My cousin has the freedom of choosing who she loves, and she’s made that choice, all of us would have to make peace with that, whether we like it or not. Even if the boy is a foe, a rival, an enemy, a…

Suddenly he stood up. He stood as straight as a flagpole. His face became bewildered, as though shocked by himself.

This isn’t right.

Romeo is a Montague.

The ball was going as fine as a ball gets, and that Montague prick showed up uninvited, he thought angrily. That prick showed up uninvited, and just like all his good-for-nothing kinsmen, Romeo Montague ruined everything for everyone!

Tybalt angrily staggered to his desk, sat down in his pitch black leather chair. Behind him, the drops of rain gradually became more and more rapid, leaking between the heavy, dull machinery of the Capulet Industries. The complex yet controlled systems of machinery squeaked occasionally, furthermore unsettling Tybalt.

He felt overwhelmed. He hated Romeo. He knew that for sure. But was it really his choice to interfere?  I should be aware of the consequences, he thought.

A deafening bolt of thunder pushed its way down from the thick, grey clouds.

“No!” Tybalt yelled. Juliet cannot marry Romeo. I will not allow this. My family will not be harassed like this. I cannot let this happen. I will not let this happen. I shall stop this humiliation from the shameless Montague.

He glared frightfully at his office again, which would perhaps soon not belong to him.

For the family’s honor, it’s worth being a criminal.

Now breathing steadily, he firmly walked towards his desk. With a stiff hand, he opened his bottom drawer. He peeked slowly, as though scared of what’s inside. In the drawer lay a shiny, black pistol, reflecting his irritated face, like a mirror judging the truest sides of humanity. He picked it up and slowly tucked it under his jacket. Slowly but firmly, he walked towards the door, each heavy footstep sounding like a giant clock hand moving. He stepped out, closing the door behind him.

Tybalt walked down the dark corridor, menacingly staring forward. Slowly the elevator doors opened. For a moment, he stood in front of it like a statue. Then he glanced back at his black office doors, before silently entering the elevator.

The metal doors closed before him, sending him down. The hallway fell back into a deathly silence again, as though no one has ever been there.

 

Rationale

The narrative “Family’s Honor” I wrote is about the protagonist Tybalt making the decision of killing Romeo, a family rival and his cousin’s lover, to save the family name.

In order to set a dark, melancholic mood, I used a range of vocabulary with negative connotations like “dull”, “impatient”, “tangled”, and “bewildered” to create a stressed mood emphasizing Tybalt’s internal conflict. To further establish the mood, I altered the setting. Instead of setting it in the 15th century like the Shakespearean story, I set my version in the modern era since its monochromatic furniture like “pitch black…chair” and mechanic industrialization like “dull machinery” emphasizes the gloomy mood. Modernity also helps develop symbolism. Through words like “controlled” and “mechanic”, the industrialization represents the depressing mood of the Capulet children controlled by elders like machines.

Characterization is present throughout my piece focusing on two different sides of Tybalt’s personality. I characterized him with a gentler side rather than the flat, impulsive maniac in the original Shakespearean script. More positively connoted words like “comfort” and “freedom” were used for his considerate side while his darker personality is accompanied by negatively connoted words like “unsettling” and “deafening”.

I established a style in this story. I used dark, eccentric metaphors like “breeze…like a blade” and “frown…like an unbreakable knot”. They also help to build the mood. Short, staccato sentences were frequently used like “This isn’t right” and “I will not allow this”. A theme of the piece is family since it’s consistently emphasized in phrases like “for the family”. It’s the conflict’s cause and why Tybalt decides to commit murder in the denouement. Conflict is frequently shown as the whole plot focuses on the internal conflict of Tybalt as he struggles with his tough decision. He constantly switches between considerate thoughts: “children…aren’t to be manipulated” and really aggressive ones: “Romeo…ruined everything for everyone!”.

Portraiture-Distracted

Portraiture

Final Piece – “Distracted”

Final Plan

Process Photos

1                                                                           2

3                                                  4

In the portraiture project, we were asked to each draw a portrait of either ourselves, someone we know, or someone we don’t know who we feel like can communicate a stronger message. There were three guiding questions, and the subjects we use have to be somewhat related to at least one of them. The three questions are:

How can portraits convey authority?

How can a portrait make a broader social statement?

How can we represent the intangible in portraits?

After choosing one or more of those questions to focus on, we chose our subjects and started preparing for the final piece. We first did media testing focusing on acrylic and oil paint and painted a mini self-portrait with each of them to experiment with different techniques that can be used with those media, for example, gridding. After media testing, we briefly studied color theory that helped us utilize colors more effectively in our projects. After all of this, we developed our final plan with our subject, color scheme, media, and all the principles of design and elements of art. After the planning, we were allowed to start, but we were also able to do more media testing with unfamiliar techniques and media like using palette knives or modeling paste. For example, worked with acrylic but also used the unfamiliar palette knife technique instead of only using brushes.

Distracted, the title of my painting communicates two meanings. The first meaning is how we are so often distracted by all kinds of chaotic thoughts and people around that we lose ourselves in the process. The other meaning is how we’re so occupied and overwhelmed every day that we can only distract ourselves, and almost zone out to actually be who we really are. Outside thoughts shouldn’t bother us. We should be allowed to be ourselves, and we should be proud of it, which brings me to the guiding question: how can portraits convey authority? I can strongly relate to the idea of being oneself and unaffected by outside influence since I’m always worried about being judged or singled out, so I chose my own face as the subject to address this thought. My background is painted with palette knives to create a chaotic feeling with different shades of blue and green, colors representing dislike and sickness. They represent the negative thoughts surrounding my mind, and the skin colored portrait of myself represents simply the true, actual me, which I feel like communicates the idea of being oneself and authority really strongly. The mood is somewhat melancholic and puzzled, which can be represented by blue, so I used a split complementary color scheme of blue, orange, and yellow.

My two artist influences are Andrew Salgado and Kehinde Wiley. I followed Wiley’s way of smooth texture of the subject and completely different style of background, and Salgado’s style with palette knives, but instead of the actual subject painted with palette knives, I used it in my background.

My actual studio piece ended up looking quite different from my final plan. Originally, I intended to add stripes of colors going through my face to show the authority in my piece, but as I started painting, I realized that the stripes of color were time-consuming, and quite frankly, on a level beyond what I can do as an artist. It was simply an unrealistic approach. Therefore, I switched my focus on the authority idea and decided to paint the entire face in skin color to show the trueness of the face.

During the portraiture unit, I think I matured a lot as an artist. In fact, I think this is the unit that triggered the most artistic growth in me. After studying all the work of other artists and going through the creative process, I really learned a lot about values, color harmony, and facial proportions. This unit really taught me a lot about drawing faces and how to paint realistically. As a beginner painter, this piece has helped me mature so much as a painter.

Artist Habits of Mind:

Develop Craft-in this project, I worked with palette knives for the first time and really was a brand new experience for me to experiment with completely unfamiliar media. I learned that this is a really artistic style, and helped me a lot in my final work.

Express-this project’s background is quite unique. It is my attempt to communicate the diversified, chaotic, and messy thoughts of the world that always distract us. Its unified color scheme and rough texture really give people almost a sense of oppression and chaos which is exactly what I’m going for.

 

Observe-since this project requires a really realistic style, I had to observe the reference photo really closely for every detail possible in order to achieve the final piece, which, in my opinion, included a lot of shadows, features, and values that I normally wouldn’t even notice. This was a really good opportunity for me to pay close attention and really zoom into details.

Final Piece                              Reference Photo

Painting Analysis

by Andrew Salgado

 

Elements of Art

Color-

There is a really varied color scheme present in this piece, consisting mostly warm colors. A bit of blue is present every now and then. To show some highlights and contrasts.

Line-

Due to the artists’ style, there aren’t really a lot of defined lines in this piece. There is a rough outline of the face and the features, but most of the others are just almost randomly drawn.

Space-

Salgado uses the varied colors of the face and the contrasting monochromatic background to clearly show the sense of space and depth in this piece. The foreground and background are very clearly defined and easily identifiable.

 

Principles of Design

Emphasis-

The emphasis of this piece is obviously the face in the center. It uses the eye-catching, large variety of colors and its relatively large size to capture people’s attention, therefore making it the focal point/emphasis.

Contrast-

As mentioned before, there is really strong contrast between the monochromatic background and the face with its all sorts of different shades of color. This creates a very strong sense of contrast which I find very visually appealing.

Movement-

The brush strokes on the face are very “messy”, creating an overall very moving feeling to the face. It is almost like it is blurred to show the movement.

By Kehinde Wiley 

Elements of Art

Color:

The use of color is very interesting in this piece. As usual, Kehinde Wiley uses a very animated and surreal background of simple patterns in contrast to his really realistic subject. There is relatively strong contrast between the black shirt in the front and the bright red and purple background.

Space:

There is a really interesting design of the usage of space in this painting. There are almost two different styles of the foreground and the background, giving people a really clear idea of depth, levels, and sense of space.

Value:

The skin of the subject of this piece has a really wide variety of colors, with all of them being some sort of a variation of brown. The shirt of the subject also creates strong value contrast with the skin. There is also a not as strong value contrast going on in the background.

 

Principles of Design

Balance:

The subject is at the very center of this piece. It is positioned this way not to only satisfy visual appeals, but also to convey a sense of authority, which is also shown in many many other works of this same artist.

Unity:

Even though the subject and background of this piece are very different from each other, the patterns of the background bring a really strong sense of unity and really packs the entire painting together, including a more unifying feeling to the subject.

Contrast:

The contrast in this piece is exceptionally strong since as I mentioned before, the background has almost a completely different style comparing to the subject. The different styles bring a really strong contrast to the piece and bring visual weight to the subject

The Oil Painting Experience

 

The first media testing we did in art class for the self-portraits unit was an oil painting. It was a rather complicated process but had really impressive effects and results. The first step was to have a printed out selfie of yourself, and grid it into roughly 50 equal squares. On a piece of cardboard, grid the same amount of grids with the same measurements. After that, with a pencil, draw an outline of the face without going into any details. When the outline of the face is drawn out, only black and white oil paint are used to create the shadows, texture, and different shades on the face. The purpose of the grid is to let the painter be able to focus on one small portion at a time, instead of trying to draw the entire face in one step. This project taught me a lot about how to properly deal with and take care of oil paint materials. For example, before, I wasn’t aware that oil paint cannot be mixed with any water, so I almost messed up my entire apparatus on the second day. I also learned how to properly clean the brushes after work to make sure the oil is washed away completely. An interesting thing I learned about oil paint is that it blends very easily and smoothly, and I enjoyed working with it. With oil paint, I didn’t really need to make an effort to bend the different values, instead, it naturally blended itself with the other shades around it. I found the final stages of shading a bit frustrating since the values aren’t exaggerated strong enough, therefore giving the entire piece a mediocre feeling; however, by adding some last minute changes, I was able to present a completed final work. In the future when working with oil, I would exaggerate and emphasize my values more so the painting has a more realistic look. Another question I still have is how to make my texture more smooth, like Kehinde Wiley’s works.

The Acrylic Painting Experience

 

One of the media testing attempts we did in the self-portraits unit was attempting to use acrylic to draw a colored portrait of ourselves. First of all, we printed out a selfie of ourselves. Then, we used matte medium to cover the surface of a piece of cardboard and stuck the selfie on to the cardboard. After that, we put quite a large amount of matte medium on top of the selfie and let it dry for a few days just so it was easy to paint on top of it. Once the matte medium was dry, we then were able to use different acrylic paint colors to paint on top of our faces.  Something I learned about acrylic paint is that it doesn’t blend as nice and a lot of layers need to be used in order for the shading to look natural.  I also learned to take very little paint every time so I don’t waste any because, for me, acrylic almost always ends up not being fully used. I enjoyed using acrylic paint because it gave my artwork a very modern and almost abstract feeling and atmosphere because of its bright colors and strong contrast. One thing I found frustrating when using acrylic was when I realized my colors didn’t have strong enough contrast; therefore, I enhanced the original digital photo’s saturation and contrast, and in the end, I was able to add in all the highlights with more exaggerated tones. A question I still have about working with acrylic painting is how to blend the colors together more naturally. I am aware that acrylic doesn’t blend as nicely as oil paint, but I would still like to learn how to blend it at least more naturally than how I’m blending it now.

Converging Cultures-Roads of Fate

FINAL PROJECT

FINAL PLAN

PROCESS PHOTOS

The project Converging Cultures was a really unique, creative, and fun unit in Art 1. The unit is entirely about digital art. Everything from media testing, to material gathering, to drafts, to final work, was all done digitally by the delightful software photoshop. By using Photoshop, we were asked to make a digital piece that shows the converging of two cultures in our lives. It can be nationalities, cultures, or even simply different maternal and paternal families. The only media we worked with were digital images and the countless fascinating functions of photoshop.

The message of my work is that choosing a different culture to follow can lead you to a completely different path of life. The overall green color scheme and the eye-catching tree of my piece represent the freshness of life and how it is full of potential. The lanterns, which are moving all towards the Chinese side of my composition, symbolize the stronger cultural influence I’ve had ever since I was a child, which is the Chinese culture. The lanterns are like guides that are guiding me towards the Chinese culture, which I’ve had more exposure to. I chose a church and a temple in my piece to represent the mildly religious family I have, and how the western side is somewhat overshadowed by the Chinese side since even though my nationality is Canadian my family is Chinese. The overshadowing is symbolized by the Chinese lantern hanging on top of the church. The maple leaves on the western side mean that even though I’m not exposed to as much Canadian culture, I still feel Canadian and I still have a sense of belonging there as the leaves are almost calling me back. The two surreal devices I used is scale and dislocation. I purposefully enlarged the lanterns and leaves so their symbolic roles as guides in my piece are more strongly emphasized. I displaced the church and the temple on the sides of the roads very close together because they represent how easily a completely different path can be chosen. My inspiration is Erik Johansson. His idea of two roads really inspired me to think: what’s on the two different roads? After that, I developed plans for my project which eventually lead to the final product.

My final work is roughly the same as my initial plan. However, I added a lot of more poetic elements such as the lanterns and the leaves and omitted a lot of literal elements like flags. I envisioned my piece to be very bright while it ended up having a darker tone to express my internal struggle of choosing paths. I faced a lot of challenges during this project. Most of them have been technical challenges since it’s my first time using photoshop. I had problems with selecting, adding backgrounds, adding shadows, balancing tone, adding light, and a lot more struggles using photoshop. I got rid of those obstacles by searching up online tutorials and regularly checking every single layer to make sure everything is as natural as possible and exactly how I want them to be.

Stretch and Explore:

I did a lot of stretching and exploring during this unit since photoshop is completely out of my comfort zone. However, I wasn’t intimidated by this and I thought that with enough patience and efforts, I will be able to learn a lot about photoshop and succeed in this project. For example, I went through five different shadow tutorials to figure out which one best suits my project and creates the best effect. I’ve definitely matured as an artist since I learned about how digital art is different and a lot of things to keep in mind since digital art requires high precision.

Understand the Art World

Converging Cultures allowed me to get into a brand new part of the art world I’ve never seen before — digital art. Through this project, I was able to learn about different areas of photoshop and how to work with photoshop effectively. I also got to discuss digital art with a few personal friends who already have experience in this area. I explored and analyzed different techniques of double exposure with friends and tried a lot of different techniques. Therefore; this project not only helped me grow as a digital artist but also interact more deeply with the digital art world, which was originally unknown to me.

Observe

Since this project needs to have a message behind it, obviously I need to work with elements that are less literal and more poetic and abstract. For example, I was originally going to use a road sign to represent the “callings” from the two different cultures; however, after thinking about it, it turned out to be too literal, so I changed it to lanterns and leaves, which are far more abstract and requires thinking to understand. I really needed to observe into the deeper meanings of objects in this project because I needed to consider all the possible subtext an object possesses and which object communicates my message the best. This helped me grow as an artist since I’m now able to work with less literal things and think more deeply about an object’s and its hidden meanings, which gives my compositions more poetic features.

Documentary Review-Saving Banksy

The documentary I watched is named “Saving Banksy”, a documentary about the fate, value, and possession of street artworks made by the anonymous street artist known as Banksy. Rather than completely focusing on Banksy’s working process or style, in my opinion, the documentary’s main focus is a overarching question: who owns the work of Banksy and where does it belong to? People who are interested in Banksy’s art are willing to pay high prices to actually buy the very wall it is on and take it away for exhibitions; however, the public isn’t satisfied with this at all because they feel like Banksy should have ownership of his very own work. There are a lot of angry people in the documentary who are extremely unsatisfied with the situation, while the museums and exhibitors try to defend themselves.

After I watched the documentary, I found myself feeling the same way as all the angry people interviewed in the documentary. Just because museums and exhibitors have money doesn’t mean they have the rights to just purchase the walls and literally make Banksy’s work their own.   Banksy’s art belongs to Banksy, and shouldn’t be taken away from him to some rich exhibitor’s possession merely because the walls were purchased. I also realized that even though art should be appreciated, a lot of people don’t respect it and takes it away immorally from the artist by using money.

As mentioned above, the biggest issue addressed in Saving Banksy is the ownership of street art. I found myself thinking about this question after watching: who really owns street art? I strongly agree with the people arguing that street art belongs to whoever made them, not random buyers who are simply interested. If an artist paints on their own canvas, the work is obviously theirs, but if it’s a graffiti painted on walls, theoretically, anybody who can manage to get the rights to the wall can own it. However, this is morally incorrect. An artist should have full possession and rights to their own creation. Some argue that the art is illegal at the first place, but if that’s the case, not even the wall owners or buyers should own it. Art cannot be simply taken away from its owner without their permission just because someone purchased the surface the art is on.

One biggest takeaway from the documentary I have is how ruthless and inhumane the modern society has become. Street art, like any other art, should be respected and appreciated. Saving Banksy gave me a whole new perspective on society. I realized how easily money overpowers art itself, and this is a realization that I’ll be keeping in my mind for a very very long time.

6 Psychological Elements Featured in Shadow and Light

Shadow and Light by Jonathan Rabb is a mystery novel that reveals a lot of psychological and dark aspects of society and the human nature. Below are the seven most prominent psychological elements.

1. Alcohol

Every time any form of alcohol appears, it symbolizes the inner, darker intentions of the protagonist Chief Inspector Nikolai Hoffner. It usually appears when a lot of problems are encountered in his life and his darker personality appears.

via GIPHY

2. Parties

Parties weren’t that recurring in the book, but whenever they appeared, they were either by corrupt officials or gangsters, and murder and schemes were heavily associated that have sexual and selfish reasons behind.

via GIPHY

3. Police Investigation

Police investigation seems like a normal thing that happens all the time, but in Shadow and Light, they are nearly always corrupt, twisted, and full of dark secrets. They often emphasize the Freudian understanding of the human personality, which states that everyone has darker, more twisted intentions inside them.

via GIPHY

4. Movie Industry

The movie industry is another normal element that is stylized as a source of abomination in Shadow and Light. The plot reveals some dirty deals and competition between the American and German film industries. Murders, which are prominently featured throughout the entire book, often have dirty deals and secrets behind.

via GIPHY

5. America

There are several racial issues covered in Shadow and Light, with the most memorable one being the discrimination Berliners have towards Americans. The only American in this book is a vicious, plotting, backstabbing woman who uses sexual elements to gain herself benefits. America is characterized as a complete source of darkness and abomination.

via GIPHY

 

6. Gangsters

Gangs and mobs played a big role in the book’s movie industry dealings and were always the true evil behind everything. Their intentions are always direct, obvious, sexual, and disgusting. They represent the darkest and most secretive side of human nature.

via GIPHY

 

Photoshop Media Testing

Inception Effect

Double Exposure (2)

Kaleidoscope

Geometric Reflection (2)

Fruitface