This “In a Box” project is inspired by the artist, Joseph Cornell. We were each given a wooden box and a theme deciding what the box design will be based on.
Before making this piece, we first analyzed Joseph Cornell’s box artwork to let us practice to think deeper by identifying the art elements he incorporated into his piece. We also learned two other artists: Chiharu Shiota and Kara Walker. Afterwards, to prepare for the box project, we did media testing with air dry clay and practiced creating depth with a printout landscape. Lastly, we picked a theme out of a hat and brainstormed ideas and drew out plans. My theme was dreams.
The steps of me creating this box were to first paint the box black using acrylic paint. While it was drying, I made the ladder out of wooden sticks. Then I molded 2D planets using the air dry clay and painted it with acrylic paint. I chose to paint the planets using cool colors so the red door can pop out. However, I wanted my piece to have unity, so I added hints of red into each planet and had the farthest planet consisting mostly red paint with hints of cool colors. The final step was molding the head using plaster gauze, making the red door, and gluing cotton to portray clouds. When I assembled the pieces, I realized the clouds were taking attention away from the head (they were both white), so I added a faint hue using black paint to mute the brightness of the white cotton. When my box was completed, I was happy with how it turned out, thought the final piece was different than how I had envisioned it to be. The background didn’t look as galaxy-like as I wanted; I removed the dangling stars because it looked juvenile, and I chose to paint the head white rather than making it look realistic to juxtapose the black background. Other challenges I encountered were choosing the materials and time management. I solved these problems by doing more media testing in my sketchbook and staying in after school to finish incomplete work.
Throughout this process, I was doing my best work and taking advantage of class time. However, in the first two classes, I believe I could have managed my time better because I spent a lot of time working on painting the background when I could have spent the time focusing on the head. This resulted in the last few classes being a little rushed, but the way I solved this problem was to stay in after school. In this box piece, I challenged myself by incorporating new techniques and media such as air dry clay and plaster gauze. Looking at my completed work, I think I have grown as an artist because I put what we’ve previously learned into practice, such as the design principles (rule of thirds, symmetry, etc.).
The 3 Artist Habit of Mind I chose are Understanding the Art World, Envision, Stretch & Explore
The first Artist Habits of Mind I will be talking about is Understanding the Art World. When developing this piece, we learned about 3 artists: Joseph Cornell, in which this project is inspired by; the Japanese string installation artist, Chiharu Shiota; and finally, an African-American artist, Kara Walker who made silhouette cutouts. For more inspiration, I went on Pinterest and found a drawing of a head submerged in water halfway. This drawing inspired me to mold only half of a head to portray the person ‘drowning’ in the emptiness of the universe just like the photo shown above.
For this project, envisioning took a big role. I had to show ‘dreams’ in an abstract way which required picturing the final design, thinking through each step, and knowing what materials to use. I envisioned a head being the focal point with a ladder leading up to a door that’s located on the side of the head. The door symbolizes the person entering a different state of mind. The space background symbolizes dreams can have infinite possibilities. To help with the process of creating a real-life version of what I have pictured, I jotted down notes and reminders to guide myself.
While developing this piece, I stretched and explored different medias. I did tests in my sketchbook using a sponge and acrylic paint to practice creating galaxy patterns and used a brush to create wavy lines. After two classes mainly focusing on the galaxy background, the muted dark colors were difficult to identify, so in the end, I didn’t use the sponge technique, instead I dotted the empty space around the planets using metallic paint to portray stars.
For this project, we used three different types of charcoal—vine charcoal, powdered charcoal and compressed charcoal to draw a still life composition of our clothes.
Before starting the final composition, we did multiple practices to prepare ourselves. Firstly, we drew a value scale using the different types of charcoal to familiarize ourselves with the density and color payoff of each type. Secondly, we drew two egg compositions based on a real and digital egg. The last thing we did was taking photos of the clothing we brought in, and drawing out four different compositions. I used 4 different composition techniques—asymmetrical, focal point, no focal point and zooming in.
After all the preparation work was finished, we began our final composition. My composition was similar to what I had envisioned. Though, I ended up removing one item so I could make the composition tightly knit together with items overlapping. This helped make the piece look more natural with no clear focal point. The other thing that was different was the swim suit. At first, I wanted to bring out the galaxy pattern, but then realized having the shirt and swim suit both having a design will cause the shoe to fade out; so I decided to have the swim suit in one color.
Some challenges that came up for me in this project was balancing the values of the composition. This was the most difficult because I had to ensure the shadows and highlights made sense in relation to the position and location of the fabric. Also, I had to balance out the overall value of the composition, making sure everything wasn’t the same color, or else it would mean they were on the same surface, receiving the same amount of light.
During this project, I challenged myself with the graphic text on the sweater. This was difficult because in real life, the text were proportionate, so it was challenging to mimic the text and make it look real while following the folds. Another thing I challenged myself with was zooming in the composition. Zooming in can mess up the proportions especially if the photo was taken at an angle. However, I made it easier for myself by taking the photo from a birds-eye-view, so sizing was the main aspect I had to focus on.
For this project, I applied myself to make my best work and took advantage of class time. I remember in the very beginning I told myself I needed to slow down to make the composition look as accurate and realistic as possible. During class, I took advantage of the time. What helps me ensure I was efficient was making a mental note of what I wanted to finish that day. However, on the days work was incompleted, I would stay in after school to finish them.
Looking at my completed composition, I think I’ve grown and matured as an artist. This project trained my observational skills in identifying all of the Elements of Art, such as, value, space, color and texture. This project also gave me a chance to explore a media I’ve never used before—charcoal.
The 3 Artist Habits of Mind I chose are Develop Craft, Express and Observe.
The first Artist Habits of Mind I will be talking about is Develop Craft. The process of creating this composition required a lot of preparation. In the very beginning, we drew a value scale using the 3 different types of charcoal. This helped me learn the density of each type, and how and when to use them in various situations. The second activity we did was the 2 egg drawings. This gave us a chance to use all the materials to draw a still life. We used more materials including the clay-like eraser, cotton swabs and tissue paper. The final step was to use our previous exploration on compositions. We planned out 4 compositions using 4 different techniques. These practices were very helpful because we were familiarized with the materials.
The three items I chose expresses who I am in an indirect way. I chose the sweater because I tend to wear casual and loose fitted clothes on most days. The shoes and swimsuit I chose shows that I enjoy competitive sports. Swimming, being my favorite and the sport I spend the most time on, and track. I chose this particular swim suit because it’s my favorite suit, and every since I bought it, I would bring it everywhere; from meets in Phuket, to meets in Hong Kong, and meets in America.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of this project was observing. Without observations, the hidden details wouldn’t be seen. The smallest details are also usually what makes the piece look more realistic. A way this was made easier, was printing out our original photo and gridding the photo into 4 quadrants. This ensured the accuracy of where the items were located, but also trained out eyes to observe the relationship between each object and the gridded lines. The photo was in black and white which also helped me see the different values of the clothing.
For this assignment, we used the fast/slow technique to draw a rickshaw using watercolor paint and pens. We used watered down the paint, applying the gesture drawing technique first, then the contour line drawing technique afterward. Gesture drawing and contour line drawing are very similar, except for one point. Gesture drawing is meant to be done quickly, drawing out the basic position of the object. Contour Line drawing is meant to be done slowly, using a continuous line to draw out the details without doing any shading. What I found challenging for this assignment, was gesture drawing because there was a time limit which didn’t allow any precision. However, through this process, I learned how to work with my mistakes and practice drawing from what I observed rather than from my memory. For someone who is doing this assignment for the first time, I would advise them to first think about the proportions of the object and just simply transfer what you see onto the paper.