“Imagination is more important than knowledge” –Albert Einstein
The act of creating art has the potential to expand and deepen one’s imagination and strengthen the connection between the hand and the mind. Art can also broaden the appreciation of the visual world. The visual arts can be a great means of non-verbal communication and stimulation. The aim of this semester is to cover a range of methods and approaches to art making. We will explore a variety of mediums and techniques to produce work that challenges us both mentally and physically.
Subjects to be addressed this semester
Most of what we will create in this class will be art that is applied to a flat surface. This artwork is classified as two dimensional. Higher level 2-D artwork achieves the illusion of three dimensions, while other interesting outcomes rely on the quality of; line, texture, composition, and other principles of design. There are a number of 2-D approaches including; drawing, painting, collage, graphic design, and advertising. We will explore several of these avenues and consider a number of 2-D art techniques as well as principles of design and art as a social force and medium for communication, marketing or propaganda.
It is one thing to create art on a flat surface that depicts a three dimensional environment, it is another to produce artwork that is actually three dimensional. We would classify 3-D work as sculpture. Sculpture presents a host of very different challenges to that of 2-D work. Sculpture requires an ability to construct forms that are solid, durable and viewable from multiple angles and must consider a degree of alternative artistic elements such as; proportion, weight, size, materials, and display techniques. Constructing a quality form that employs proper technique and suitable materials will be a primary focus.
Mixed Media or Multi-Layered Art
A current trend in contemporary art uses the method of combining a variety of artistic styles and mediums. It is common in post-modern art to incorporate attributes from many different sources. As art history progressed it became more difficult to produce truly original and cutting-edge artwork (some say that painting is dead because there is nowhere left to go that hasn’t previously been explored) we have relied on reconfiguring the past to produce new art through the method of combining old styles in seemingly new and stimulating ways.
Much of painting aims to reproduce what we see in life. The objective when painting in a realistic fashion is to create the illusion of a three dimensional object or environment on a two dimensional surface. This can be a challenging task but has strong educational potential. There is much to be learned in an attempt to copy the work of an established artist or to reproduce a photograph in the form of a painting. Much of what we learn, we learn by studying the work of others. Before we develop and explore our own style or technique, it is helpful to understand the efforts of those who came before us. And it is helpful to have knowledge of traditional methods before venturing into more personal areas. Pablo Picasso did not paint like a child until he mastered the classical traditions of a professional.
Drawing from life challenges us to render a drawing or painting of the reality we see before us. It is a common exercise for artists to go into the landscape and depict what they see. Or set up an array of objects, formally called a “still-life” as the subject of a drawing or painting. We will attempt this practice by viewing an object or a scene, and by our own hand, produce a version of it as a drawing or painting. It is not always critical to treat this assignment as a practice in realism, but simply to use the scene as inspiration or reference for an artwork. Artists often put their own spin on the scene or object that conveys their personal artistic style or touch. Assignments might include rendering; a still-life, a portrait, or a land, sea or cityscape.
The power of words can only be heightened by expressing them as imagery. I like to explore the challenge of creating art from text. Think of words not only as written language, but poetic imagery. We will work to create an artistic composition using mainly text in expressive ways. We will learn that words can be translated into expressive visions. We will explore their relationship and the dynamic potential between them. We will approach text visually to convey expression and emotion that words alone cannot communicate.
In the past century art has become more and more a conceptual endeavor. The modernists proved that art can merely be a concept, an idea conceived by an artist to elicit a response from a viewer. The artist need not be a craftsman or technician but simply an inventor, whose idea will be realized either by his own hand or often through the work of a craftsman. Conceptual art is about inventing and cultivating ideas to produce an ultimate experience or inspire a sense of wonder. We will take on a project that will get us thinking as conceptual artists, and work to craft our vision.
Collaboration is a common practice among artists. Bouncing ideas, styles and approaches off one another can often produce interesting and unexpected results. When many hands and minds work toward one common end we develop skills and support systems that can be helpful in an art project or in a “real world” working environment. If an artistic vision is too large for one person, a collaborative effort is a great solution. Learning to work with others strengths and weaknesses can be an important practice and life lesson.
Site Specific Art
Collaborative as well as independent work often revolves around creating art for a specific space. Murals are usually painted directly onto a particular wall or designed for a specific space. Graffiti or Guerilla Art is often inspired by the object or structure it is painted on. Site specific art usually addresses the environment where it resides whether it is in terms of the subject matter, the size of the space, the function of the space or simply by working in a complementary color scheme. Creating art for a specific space is usually dictated by the features of that space. Whether we attempt a collaborative mural or a collection of individual art that hangs together to form a larger collaborative installation, we will explore the importance of creating art that is site specific.
A common practice at HTHI and in the working world is to explore a project from multiple fronts. An interdisciplinary project will merge the instruction of 2 or more classes to produce a project that tackles multiple subjects. It is this cross-disciplinary thinking that will not only prepare us for our futures in the workforce but in everyday experiences as well. This project will reflect the inherent complexity of life. Art can be a great tool to express the concepts formulated in other disciplines. Artwork always has a theme or subject, so why not use those in which we are actively participating. We will work in conjunction with a core class to produce artwork that expresses themes or ideas of that partnering course.
This semester we will make art for an outside entity or organization. Not only will each student be accountable to themselves and the instructor, but also to this “real world” client. One potential task of a professional artist is to create an artwork for a patron. A patron is one who supports the arts. This practice is referred to as a commission. A patron is one who hires an artist to produce art according to the desires of that person. It is the duty of the artist to consider all of the patrons, or clients, requests. Among those requests might be; the subject of the painting (which may relate to the function of the organization), the size of the artwork, the materials to be used, and the location of where it will live (which means that the artist might consider a color scheme that will match the interior décor and personality of the space). A successful commission will hinge on the satisfaction of the client.
Perhaps the ultimate goal of an artist is to formally exhibit their work in a public venue. When an artist is faced with the prospect of displaying their creations to a “real world” audience, the approach and commitment to the work may be of consequence. It is one thing to make art for your own viewing pleasure, and another to create art in anticipation of an audience. It will be a goal to exhibit in an off-campus venue at least once this semester.
The ability to physically create art should be joined with the knowledge and ability to clearly think and speak about the significance of our creations. We will periodically take time out to discuss the work we create in order to comprehend the foundation and potential our work might possess. These critique sessions may be designed to assess finished work, or come during the process in order to assess the project while it is underway, gauging the potential implications and direction of our efforts. We will try to relate to one another not only what we are or have currently produced, but also the larger picture of why we are making these artistic efforts. It is an attempt to understand both the physical and intellectual properties of art. Critique will come in a variety of forms with the intent to nurture our understanding and relationship to the art we make.