Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mad MS Paint Skillz

This past Monday we, as a class, visited the school's student art show. Unfortunatley, the pieces were already being taken home by their respective artists when we arrived. Cynthia, may I reccomend that next semester you take your class to see the show a bit sooner? Thanks. The art show was OK. I've walked through the small "gallery" quite a few times, so I'm familiar with the feeling of drowning in eight feet of art on all four sides. Its a small room, with a huge amount of...for lack of a better word, of art. As an art student, I appreciate the hard work that goes into every project, but while looking at all of these pieces, all I saw were...well, art projects. Not 'real' art. I know that the artists will be reading this, and this is directed at them: If saw you in person, I'd say this to your face: getting an "A" on your art project does not make it suitable for an art show. In stark contrast, the average museum has generally uncluttered rooms and art that is not made by students--so the art in museums and other galleries is usually of a much, much higher quality than seen here. Most of the "art" in this gallery falls into three categories: bad photoshop, bad painting/photography, and bowls. Three pieces in particular stood out to me, and while I'd give titles and artists if I could, I was not aware until after the gallery was closed and empty that we needed more than one piece. So I only have the title and artist of one piece--one of the few I thought was actually good. Also, Liz does not own a camera, so she instead drew pictures of the pieces from her memory using the wonderful medium of MS Paint. Liz will now stop writing in the first person.


This piece falls into the category of bad photoshop. I don't remember who made it, but I assume its When Punk Kids Have A Baby since those words were typed across the picture. One reason this falls into the bad photoshop category is that the techniques are too visible--the cigarette pasted onto the kid's lips has visible edges--but my main reasoning is that photoshop cannot 'fix' a poorly planned photograph. Perhaps I'm not hearing the entire story, maybe the class' assignment was to take a bad photo and make it better with photoshop, but gallery pieces are supposed to be self standing. You cannot expect that all of your audience knows the story behind the piece. This comment is for the artist, whomever they may be: keep practicing. There's a reason you're taking that class, and its to get better at computer arts and photoshop. I'm certian you're pieces will keep getting better, but this one is just not gallery quality. And I fail to see how a baby with blue hair, a tattoo, beer, and a cigarette is "punk". When I hear the word punk, I think of the Sex Pistols, not blue hair and dragon tattoos.


This is a bowl. There were many bowls in this gallery show. Sure, there were a few very cool sculptures, in particular one of some very odd looking fish, but there was an insane number of bowls, and that is what stuck in my mind. Bowls. I've worked with clay for a few years, and know that those bowls in the exhibit did not take a huge amount of skill. Spin some clay on a wheel, fire it, glaze it, fire it again, done. Looking at what are very obviously art projects presented as "art" in an exhibit makes me feel like the artists don't take their audience seriously. But the only people who go to art galleries are those who care about art. So how about caring for your art? I know that the artists could have tried harder, and if they don't want to, they can simply not enter their junk into art shows. If the artist doesn't take their work seriously, why should I?


This was possibly the coolest piece of art on display in the gallery this semester. A charcoal drawing of an ostrich, called Always Watching, drawn by Natalia Shishkina. This one stands out in the sea of gaudy photoshop and paint, the sea of bowls and so-so photographs as being a piece that someone actually put effort into. What really stood out to me when observing this drawing is how clean the details are. I know from experience that "clean" is not a word that is usually found in the same sentence as charcoal, but I'll say it: This charcoal drawing is incredibly clean. I applaud Shishkina for achieving this feat. I find this piece hilarious, too--that face is just priceless.

What this school needs is more artists like Natalia Shishkina, artists who, despite being students, understand what pieces belong in galleries, and which can be omitted. Of course, all artists have their really bad pieces, but they all make great pieces occasionally. And its only the great ones that I want to see in a gallery. I don't go to an art gallery to see some kid's photoshop experiment, or the very first bowl that some student made, I go to see real, evolved art.

Yeah, I know. I'm harsh. But that's life. I'm not going to lie and tell you you're stick figures are amazing, that's your Grandma's job. You're grown up now, and its the negative feedback that will really make you try harder to improve.


This is the final art blog that I'll be doing for this Art History class. It was a lot of fun, and I may start up a blog on my own. Its nice writing something that isn't in MLA or APA format. And instead of a works cited I just link to things, which is great. To all...five...of you who actually read this thing, thanks. Bye!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Your Mom Can't Draw!

On Wednesday, we discussed Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and his many painting styles. At first a classical painter, he began moving more towards the impressionist style after years of creating great works like this, The Swing (1876).


However, all of this fuzzy painting over many years led the man to believe that he had lost his ability to draw correct figures and proportions. So after years of being an impressionist, Renoir decided to go back to being a classical painter...and failed. It was true, he had lost the ability to draw.

But we talked about all of that in class. So where's my contribution? Well, I've had a similar experience that Renoir had. Back when I was in high school, about Sophomore year or so, I thought I was amazing at drawing. Of course, all I drew were little cartoon cats, but I believed that I couldn't possibly get any better. I decided to take a cartooning/animation class just to prove I could draw better than everyone else, but was shocked when the teacher wanted me to use a different technique than the one I had developed over the years. Over the course of the next year I drew only in the teacher's preferred technique, and when the class finished I decided to go back to my own style...and I felt that I could no longer draw, I could only draw the way I had been taught. Every time since when I have tried to draw with my old technique the drawings look horrible, but I know now that they always were horrible and I am very thankful for the class I took( it taught me to draw using basic shapes as a base). In my silly high-school-girl mind back then, I felt similar to Renoir in that changing my style had permanently damaged my ability to draw. But I moved past that, and have found that experimenting with different styles and techniques has made me a better artist and has helped me develop my own style. Perhaps Renoir never got past the mental block of "I can't draw." Or maybe it was his arthritis.


...It was probably the arthritis, huh. But the "mental block" theory goes much better with my story, so I'm using that instead. So there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rikki Tikki Waterlily!

Today when you hear the name "Monet", the first thing that pops into your mind is probably, "Oh he did those waterlilies, right? I have stationery of that!" or something similar.


But that classic waterlily painting that you see when you hear Claude Monet's name wasn't always considered great art (by the way, Monet did a series of paintings of those waterlilies--250 paintings total). Back in his day, the late 1800s and early 1900s, paintings like his were considered incomplete and sloppy, and were called Impressionist. That's not a complement. Impressionism + Art in 1800s France = Bad Art. But these impressionists liked being different, those rebels. And they remind me of some artists today. Artists like...Chuck Jones and Charles Schultz.Cartoonists and animators.


As an animation student myself, I am well aware that there are many people who like comics, or think animated movies are "cool", but if asked they usually don't consider comic books and animations art. Just entertainment. Most believe that art is something you see in a museum, and nothing more. It is rare to find a person who believes that art can be functional, or something that you can see in a newspaper or on TV. Which is really...stupid, for lack of a better word. The average animated film from Pixar takes at least two years to make, and its not because the animators are lazy, but because its hard work. A cartoonist pours their life into their work, just like a painter or a sculptor, and they shouldn't be denied their title of Artist just because their art happens to be stylized and gestural. The Impressionists of France at Monet's time had this same problem. They did not make very much money while alive, because no one bought their paintings, and no one bought their paintings because the Salons of France didn't want sloppy paintings, they wanted "real" art. But the Impressionists did their own thing, and kept on breaking the rules--and look where that hard work got them. These days, Monet's paintings are considered art, and museums all over the world have some of his waterlily paintings on display. Perhaps one day the cartoonists and animators will get their work displayed in art museums around the world with the "Classic" paintings, and they will be considered artists too.


What actually inspired me to compare the Impressionists to today's cartoonists and animators was going to my school's art show and seeing that it was all paintings, photographs, and ceramic bowls. Art projects. And what annoyed me was that, well, most of them were not very good. And I thought, "If they'd post comic books in the art show, it would be more interesting," of course...I also believed that I would totally own that art show if they exhibited comics. Just wait. When the spring show is accepting pieces...I'll be ready.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lifestyles of the Rich and Unemployed!

I'm back again! Smiley face!


When you're hurt, and can't work, you call AFLAC. So when you're rich and don't work, what do you do? Well, you could swim around in your money, a la Scrooge McDuck, or you can actually do something productive like a man named Manet. Not Monet. That's someone else. I'm talking Édouard Manet (note that I successfully got that "e" with a little line on top), the man that was so rich (due to his family, of course) that instead of going to law school or getting an actually productive job, he decided to paint. And, being a man that didn't need money, he didn't have to follow the rules of the Academy of Fine Arts (Académie des Beaux-Arts)--which you had to do if you wanted to make a living off of your art--so he just did his 'own thing'. Which resulted in pieces like this one, Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1863).


If you're looking at this and thinking, "This looks like a painting to me," you're right. It is a painting. But If you failed to notice...there's kind of a naked woman right in the middle of the painting. That's why the Academy didn't want it. Sure, they have tons of paintings of naked women in their Salon. But this isn't a foreigner or a Goddess. She's very much French. And that's bad. But remember, Manet had lots and lots of money. So he doesn't need people to like it. All that matters to him is that he likes it. You know who else has so much money that they don't need a real job? Here's a hint:


Still don't have it? Here's another hint: Her name starts with Paris and ends in Hilton. Paris Hilton has been filthy rich since she was born, and, like Manet, has decided to use her free time to explore the arts. She's tried acting, and was in House of Wax, in which she played some blond bimbo, a role which she has been preparing for for 24 years. Deciding that that wasn't enough, she even decided to record an album. It wasn't very good. But does that matter? Of course not! Paris doesn't do all this for money! She does it because she doesn't have a real job! Just like Manet, Paris Hilton is a rich kid who devotes her time to the arts...only Manet was actually good at what he did. While acting, singing, dancing, and modeling are things she sucks at, she is good at one thing: screaming. She even won an award for that. But if screaming isn't something that Paris wants to do, perhaps she should try her hand at painting. It worked for Manet.


I'm so mean...