Final Portrait Reflection

In this project, we were asked to paint a portrait that can convey authority and can make a broader social statement and represents the intangible. In this portrait, I used oil painting for the face, I used acrylic for the background, and I used the palette knife to add texture to my background.


My project is named innocence, this represents harmlessness and free from guilt.

The subject in my painting is my sister, I chose her as my subject due to her look of innocence that most children have. My guiding question is that adults should not restrict children’s imagination and creativity. It can be shown by my sister in the portrait and the creativity of children. By using the palette knife in my portrait, it shows how children often draw, it is messy, but there is still creativity incorporated into it. The mood of the portrait is very innocent and childish, so I used pink and blue, they are both colors that connote the idea of immaturity. I borrowed Hung Liu’s idea in my portrait, I drew shapes in the background of my portrait. I was inspired by Francois Neilly, I thought her use of palette knives was really creative and created texture. I wanted to use her texture to represent children’s creativity and their scribbles.


In my final plan, I planned to completely use the palette knife for my background, however, during the process painting the face of the subject, I realized that a uniform texture in the background would not have the effect that I wanted it to have, would be too messy. One of the challenges I came up with during this project is drawing the ear. The ear has a really complicated structure, thus, when drawing it with a monochrome color scheme, it would have a lot of different shades and values. I overcame this obstacle by looking at each part of the ear close up, breaking down the picture to focus on details. I have stretched as an artist by paying attention to details so that my portrait would look more realistic.

Develop Craft- I developed craft by learning from my mistakes. At first, the texture and shadows of the hands were not very realistic, however, I corrected it by changing the shades and smoothing out the rough texture of the hand. Another mistake that I made was that the edges were not defined, but I fixed that mistake by using a thin paintbrush to go over the edges. At first, my shades of blue for the face and the hand were not unified, however, I solved that problem by going over the color again with another shade of blue. This not only fixed the different shades of blue, it also smoothed out the texture of the hand. Evidence of these changes can be shown above by the changes of the portraits.

Observe- The picture below shows evidence of myself observing. Throughout the process of observing, it helped me work on my details, thus, making my portrait more realistic. When observing, I zoom into the picture so that I can see the details on the picture better so I could apply the shade of the color onto my canvas. An example is when I was working on the flower on the figure, I zoomed into the picture to better focus on the shades of the flowers, and I applied the shades of the flower onto the canvas.

Envision- I envisioned by drawing a final plan. By drawing a final plan, I can see better how my portrait would look like when I draw it, however, I changed my final plan because I envisioned what my portrait would look like when I drew it I envisioned that when I painted the background as it was in the final plan, it would look really messy and would not have the effect that I was looking for, which was the type of drawing that children tend to draw, therefore, I changed my background into what it is now, which is an acrylic background with geometric shapes painted with palette knives. Geometric shapes connote to children because that is what children first learn when they were little.


Value: The values on the woman’s face makes the painting look more realistic. Values can also be seen in other places such as the bird’s body and the plants.


Line: The lines included in the painting creates a sense of direction in the painting and leads the audience’s eyesight from top to bottom of the painting.

Shape: Hung Liu uses circles to attract attention to certain parts of the painting.

Contrast: There are contrasts of colors between the red and the turquoise and the gold and the purple.

Emphasis: The contrasts of the colors create emphasis in the painting and emphasized some details.


Movement: The paint dripping from the canvas creates movement and leads the audience’s eyesight from top to bottom.

Painting Analysis

Color- The color effects the general shade of the woman, the darker colors of the woman represents the shades of the woman, and the lighter colors of the woman represent the highlights of the woman.


Shape- The shape of the streaks of color helps define the woman’s face and details. Some shapes are bigger and some are not, each is in a different shape, and each is trying to form a bigger shape, which is the woman’s face.


Movement- The direction of each color of paint applied is important because it helps define parts of the woman’s face such as her eyes or her nose.


Patterns- The patterns of the directions of the streaks of colors and their direction emphasizes some contour lines that the woman had.


Emphasis- The streaks of colors are in the same direction, however, the minority of the streaks of color that are not in the same direction creates emphasis.


Contrast- There are some contrasting colors such as blue and orange, red and green.etc. This brings out some parts of the woman’s face and also acts as emphasis.


Media Testing Reflection

During the process of this media testing, we used a selfie as a template, and applied different layers of acrylic paint on top, bringing out the highlights and shadows that was in the picture. The first layer was more general and did not seem realistic, however, as we applied more layers, the painting became more and more realistic.


From this media testing, I learned that acrylic paint dries at a much faster rate than oil paint, therefore, it is easier to apply layers. Applying layers helps correct mistakes easier. Using the oil paint makes blending much easier. When using acrylic paint, I learned to always put the paintbrush into the water when I don’t need it.


Acrylic paint is frustrating when it comes to mixing colors on the color palette, I often find that after I finish using the color I just used, the color dries so I would have to mix the color again, which is hard because I would have to mix the exact same shade. I think I can overcome this problem by adding water to the dry paint.


A problem I have with acrylic paint is that I blend too much, causing there to be no contrasts in the painting. The loss of contrasts causes there to be no form of shape within the painting.


During the process of the oil paint media testing, we used a piece of cardboard as a canvas and drew grids on it. We did the same to the original picture we were drawing from. This helps us have a better idea of where we should draw our lines. After that, we applied layers of paint.


From this media testing, I learned that oil paint blends really well. Oil paint dries really slowly, thus, it is better to blend with. This helped me because blending can cover my mistakes. I also learned to clean my paintbrushes by first squeezing all the paint in the paintbrush out, then cleaning the brush with oil when using oil paint.


Acrylic paint is frustrating because it dries really slowly, so it is harder to draw clear lines. I had trouble with this when drawing lines on my face. I learned to overcome that problem by adding more paint.

Sky Ladder Documentary Reflection

The documentary “Sky Ladder” tells us the story behind the scenes of a famous Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang. Cai Guo Qiang experiments with explosives to form artwork that can be displayed in the sky. Cai Guo Qiang’s grandmother is at a very old age and is unable to travel, but Cai Guo Qiang creates the project “Sky Ladder”. After several trials, he eventually achieves his goal of creating a kilometer long ladder made up of consecutive fireworks.


After I watched this documentary, I realized that art can be expressed not only on a piece of paper and a canvas but can also be expressed using many different ways such as explosives. I also learnt the hard work the artists put behind their work


The issue brought up in the documentary was the environmental harm that the explosives caused, I strongly agree with this issue, but Cai Guo Qiang is currently working with colored powder so it would create the same effect but doesn’t affect the environment negatively.


An important takeaway from this documentary is that in the future, I can learn to experiment with other unique materials instead of using just the traditional materials we normally use.


Converging Cultures (The Furthest Distance) Reflection

During this project, we were asked to create a Photoshop composition using surreal devices. In previous projects, we were more focused on traditional media This project was a challenge for me personally due to the lack of experience with Photoshop.


This project is named “The Furthest Distance” due to the story behind the artwork. The Moon and the Earth represent my two different cultures I am part of, and also implies how the two cultures are very different from each other, just like the diverse environments of the Moon and the Earth. The hand is holding the Chinese culture since I have lived in China for most of my life and my parents are Chinese too. The double exposure effect I have created on the moon shows how the American Culture is further away.


I used scale, transparency, and dislocation in my composition. I played with scale by putting the architecture on my hand when it should be a lot bigger than my hand. I used transparency by lowering the opacity of the pictures of the western buildings. Dislocation is shown in my composition by placing the building on my hand instead of on the ground where it should have been placed.


My artwork was inspired by Jerry Uelsmann and how he utilized a lot of hands in his compositions. I liked how he had dislocated unusual objects onto the hands and created something really different and interesting.  Jerry Uelsmann’s compositions are black and white, but I decided to use color in my composition to experiment what I can do with color.


During the process of creating this product, I encountered many obstacles such as failing to select minor details of one of my primary sources – my hand. I overcame that challenge by using the resources given to help me select those minor details, thus, making my project look more realistic. I also had trouble trying to express what I am trying to convey. I tried different methods such as placing westernized architecture on the background of the composition, but soon decided that it did not fit into the theme of the composition, so I later created a transparent effect on the moon so it would convey the idea that I was not exposed to the American culture as much as the Chinese culture.


Over the course of this unit, I challenged myself to experiment new techniques by watching Youtube tutorials to learn how to create the effect of water being held in my hand. This technique was challenging for me because not only was this new to me, it was also challenging due to the process when I had to erase the additional parts of the water which was left outside of the boundaries of the hand. During this process, I experimented with different hardnesses of the eraser so that the hand holding the water would look more realistic.


In this project, envision was a key point to success. Envisioning is one of the most important things to do for a project like this where you work with unfamiliar media and tools. My sketches I drew beforehand really helped with my project since it gave me a brief idea of what my project should look like before I start, thus, gaining a general direction of where I’m heading. Even though my composition may not turn out like how it was planned, however, my envisioning in this project helped me mature as an artist because I learnt that it is always important to envision and create a sketch before I actually started the composition so I give myself a general sense of direction.




Throughout this unit, I had stretched and explored out of my normal comfort zone with my limited amount of skills in the area of digital art. As mentioned before, I had used Youtube as a resource to develop more advanced skills in digital art. This had really helped me with my progress due to the risks I was willing to take in order to experiment with something completely new and out of reach.

Most important of all, to me personally, is the understanding of the art world. The short clips that we had watched in class really gave me an idea of what digital art is like and the artists also gave me inspiration. Jerry Uelsmann is one of the main artists that had influenced my composition. I was attracted to the hands in many of his works, thus, included that element in my artwork.