Monday 31 December 2012

Fitting Into Boxes

My first wood working experience surpassed my expectations.  I was quickly aware of how I could use the same elements I use for painting and transfer them to the 3D pieces of wood.  I also further questioned what defines an artist when working with my friends father, Fred, who very adamant that he wasn’t an artist.  I definitely walked away from the experience knowing I would soon be back for more sculptural wood work.

When I mentioned to Fred, that he too was an artist, he was quick to dismiss the notion.  I came to realize that the term artist is similar to the labels we put in children, like autism.  Not everyone fits into a perfect box and Autism can have thousands of variations and like each individual child with it, an artist is a reflection of the self/individual, there are no two alike.  To me I saw Fred as an artist in ways because he was problem solving, creating and experimenting.

Lately I have been telling my primary art students, particularly when they are engrossed in conversations and not focusing on the task at hand, that when you are creating a work of art many things are happening.  I explain that art is like science because you are experimenting and testing different ideas, materials and concepts.  Your results may vary until you find a pattern, like scientist do.  I then tell them that it is like math since you are continuously problems solving with tools and ideas and how you will present them with your intended meaning. Lastly; I explain that they are also incorporating language since their linguistic ideas are being represented in a visual form which they are then communicating to their audience.  Do you think you can do all of that and chat with your friend at the same about recess?

I noticed that Fred followed the same pattern, experimenting and problem solving. Although he may not be communicating an intentional message his work is an extension of himself, which is what I believe an artist is.  Each artist, like Autism, is on a continuum of depth to which they go in regards to these elements. 

I soon realized working on the table was parallel to working on a drawing or painting.  I participated in sculpting the legs and making the table top.  As I began scrapping away at the legs I used the natural curves and contrasting colours to help guide me.  Soon I was introduced to the drummel and went full fledge with it, creating lines that also mimicked the grains in the wood.  My creative process is always a play back and forth from reflecting and creating; I found this to be the same when creating the coffee table.  I am very excited to explore creating more sculptural work as it has been a long time.

Sunday 23 December 2012

'Pathway' Series

My ‘Pathway’ series began from a drawing I completed called ‘Tunnel Vision’ in 2010.  From there sprang a whole series of drawing that were interconnected like a puzzle resembling a hand or branches.  I transferred a small number of the pieces to wood panels using modeling paste and oil paint marker. It quickly became apart that the pieces needed to be showcased in a large space, which was two stories high and around 15m long.  I also wanted to experiment with having the figures come out of the wood canvas using metal.  Due to limited resources, (my tiny studio in my apartment) and not having a location lined up, I had to take a break from the series knowing that when time and circumstances were right I would be able to go full fledge without having to hold back my creative vision.

The video below describes the process of both technique and meaning behind the series.  I look forward to continuing to document my ideas as it is  not only helpful for reference and generating further ideas, it allows people to understand the deeper levels of my work.  I enjoy sharing the meaning behind my work because I always get great feedback, perspective and inspiration.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

What speaks to us?

I attended three different opening nights late last month, each different, both in atmosphere and genre of work.  On Wednesday November the 28th NSC (Neubacher Shor Contemporary) had an opening featuring photography from Arline Malakian and sculptures from Dennis Lin. Thursday was a swing in the opposite direction with traditional realistic landscape work form a Newfoundland artist at Open Architect Inc, Friday finished the triangle with a Sci Fi themed show that consisted of 70 artists, including myself.

Each experience in life brings different questions to mind, and this art bonanza bought back a question that I always repeat, what makes good art?  How you assess art is a very open and subjective topic where everyone has their own take.  Whether individuals are experts in art or just enjoy its thought provoking qualities, we all respond and react to what speaks to us.  However, there must be a common thread that draws us to visual arts.

What spoke to me the most was the sculptures by Dennis Lin at NSC. I loved the contrast between the materials used and the forms created, particularly the ones on the wall (see example below).  His use of organic lines set against the strong shinny metal drew me in immediately.  His work is my favourite in that there was subtle intention when the work was created, which allows for the viewer to have their own take on it.  His strengths are definitely scale, line, shape and form along with contrast of technique and materials. After looking at his extensive collection I to hope to take my own work to such great scale and intensity.

The Sci Fi show on Friday exhibited a continuum of ability equal in technique and subject matter.  I found some pieces with very strong colour and texture while others had strong composition yet lacked clear colours, I know too well that over mixing colours makes them muddy and takes away from a potential master piece.  
The use of line and value by Arzu, was technically amazing and many were found staring at it for some time.  However, it was the emotion emitted from the piece that spoke to me and cannot be placed into an element or principal box.

'Transmission' by Arzu and detail

Another key feature to a solid work of art is a strong focal point, whether it’s a sculpture, dance piece or painting, a focal point draws in the viewer to take a second look.  I am currently experimenting with making my focal point and composition stronger because of this importance; I want to draw the viewer into the deeper meaning of my pieces to provoke thorough discussion.

A good work of art must balance both the elements and principals of art, by either following them, or breaking them in a creative way.  The work being visually pleasing is only half of it; I prefer work that has a context and underlying message. Having a subtle message that can be inferred is preferable because it creates an open dialog for your audience including them in universal messages that we can all connect to on some level.

My views on art always grow and change as my own work develops and I look forward to further examining what makes some art more appealing and stronger than others, with further research I also hope to discover more about how our emotions play a role in our responses to art. 

What are your theories on what make a powerful piece of art?  I would love to hear it, any feedback is welcome.