Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My First Painting Class

One of the required courses that all Montserrat students must take is called Painting, Color & Light. The class is basically an introduction to oil painting, as well as color theory. I am taking it this semester, and it has certainly given me a run for my money.

One of the reasons why I am finding this class among the most difficult is the fact that we are working with oil paint. I had worked with oil paints in the past, and drifted away from them due to the fact that they dry very slowly. I prefer to work quickly, and thus oil is a frustrating medium for me. Acrylics have always been the paint I prefer. Nevertheless, I am learning how to better use oil paint, and how to be patient with my work.

Among the first assignments we had in the class were a series of color grids (see image below) where the goal was to tint and tone colors. These, while monotonous, proved to be very educational, and helped me to understand better the process of mixing colors. My grids are somewhat successful, but there are still many places where the color "jumps" to the next too rapidly. Practice makes perfect.

The next assignment that we had that was related to color theory was a pair of "master copies". These are (as the name indicates) copies of a master artist's painting. One of them had to be an exact replica in full color, and the other in sepia tone (limited to cadmium orange, black, and white paint). I chose to do William Adolphe Bouguereau's Dante and Virgil in Hell, on a 24"x30" canvas. Though I enjoyed this assignment, I was a bit too ambitious with my choice, and found myself struggling to meet the assignment deadline. In fact, neither of my copies are completed yet. I hope to find time over the summer to bring them to full completion.

While the "master copies" were being completed at home, in class I worked on a still life. The objects our professor set up were black, white, and gray, and were placed on a black and white striped cloth. We were only allowed to use black, white, cadmium orange, and cerulean blue for this assignment. One might wonder why the cadmium orange and cerulean blue are necessary in a black/white still life... but after some observation, the answer becomes clear. The more and more I stared at the still life, the more I could see the blues and oranges coming out. Though subtle, they were definitely there. We had to incorporate them into our paintings (which was difficult at times), but I feel that it yielded one of my most successful pieces yet.

In progress right now is a self portrait, inspired by the brilliant artist Jenny Saville. The piece is due on Wednesday, and I hope to post it when I finish it. I'm a bit behind at the moment, but feel confident that I'll be able to finish on time.

Painting class has proven to be fun, frustrating, and difficult. It's a great way to explore a medium that I've only had a small amount of experience in.

Visiting the MFA Boston - 3/28/10

This past Sunday, I made the bold decision to get into my car, and drive into Boston to visit the Museum of Fine Arts. Not only did I want to go, I was required to as a preliminary step to a research paper for my Art History II class. While there, I saw some pretty amazing things, and spent a considerable amount of time just wandering the galleries, taking it all in.

As I wrote about in my last post, I believe that one of the most important things that a student artist can do is look at artwork. Looking and seeing are so pivotal to bettering oneself as an artist. If you can see it, you can draw references from it. Even abstract and non-objective artists need to know how to render things realistically, based on what they see. If they can't, there's no way that their art will be dynamic.

But enough of my ranting, the MFA in Boston is a fantastic museum. It was only my second visit, but I know that I'll be going back for more. My advice to anyone who wants to visit it (as everyone should) is to get there early. I arrived on Sunday about five minutes before the doors opened. This was a fantastic time to be there, as for the first hour or so that I was there, I was practically alone. There is nothing like standing in the massive hall of European Master Paintings and being the only one in the room. That intimacy just doesn't happen when other museum visitors are also making their way amongst the artwork. It was very surreal.

If you are able to go to the MFA, but can't possibly make it through the entire museum at one time, there are some things that you absolutely must see. One, is the aforementioned European Master Paintings room... which will make you feel tiny and insignificant. The Buddhist Temple Room is another must, and is also especially powerful if you find yourself alone there. It's quiet, and peaceful, and really quite enjoyable. Even if you came into the museum via the Huntington Entrance, you should leave via the State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance. Outside it are two giant bronze baby heads. Freaky? A little. Awesome? Totally! Here's a photo I took of one of them:

Another neat piece that will totally blow your mind is located near the restaurant/gift shop in the lower galleria. If you walk into the galleria via the Foster gallery, you will be confronted with one of the coolest illusions you have ever seen. I photographed it:

I'm unsure if these are both permanent installations or not. I suppose that if they aren't, they're going to be there for some time. But still, get your butt over to the MFA in Boston. It will definitely be a fun experience.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Favorite Artists

As a part of finding out who I am as an artist, I feel it is important to see what kind of art appeals to me. I think one of the greatest ways an artist can become inspired is by looking at the art of others. Each time I view a piece of artwork that appeals to me, I find myself wondering how I can incorporate the aspects I like into my own work. Essentially, while I am searching for my signature style, I try to emulate the style of others.
As of now, these are some of my favorite artists:

Audrey Kawasaki:
Gris Grimly:
Arno Rafael Minkkinen:
Jenny Saville:
Yoshitaka Amano:
M.C. Escher:
H. R. Giger:

There are so many more really... I found it hard to narrow it down to these artists. The more I am exposed to other people's artistic vision, the more I am able to hone in on my own style.

If you know of any artists out there that you think I might enjoy, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me with their name. I'm always open to looking at something new!

Where I Am Now...

So here I am, more than half way through my second semester of my freshman year. Honestly, I can't believe that I'm already here. I'm in the midst of choosing my classes for the fall semester. This process is made somewhat more difficult due to the fact that I will be majoring in both graphic design and illustration. Regardless of the stresses of picking classes, I still have the rest of this semester, and another four years of school to complete all the classes I need for both majors.

So far the experience of art school has been just that; an experience. In the seven months I have been a college student, many things in my life have changed. I've moved to a new town in a new state, started all new classes, and met tons of new people. I've experienced life living in a dorm (which did not work out... dorm living is not for me), as well as the responsibility of living in my own apartment off campus.

As far as my education, I can honestly say that my decision to go to art school has been verified by my experience so far. I have completely re-learned many of the things that I though I knew. Drawing, for example, is extremely subjective... and the way that I was taught to draw while here at Montserrat varies greatly from the way I was taught to draw as a child. My passion for art has increased significantly since the start of this experience, and I expect that trend will continue as I approach graduation.

My First Blog Post

As you can tell by the title of my blog, my name is Dana, and I am an art student. I am currently a second semester freshman at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. I have never blogged before, and I have no idea what I'm doing. However, I feel that this blog will be beneficial to me, and will help me to grow personally as well as professionally.

I hope to update this blog on at least a weekly basis, and use it as a tool to amplify the skills that I am learning in school. I hope that by reflecting on my art, and getting feedback from readers, I will become a better artist.

Please take some time to look at my website: