Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On leaving things out

So, when I posted Dragon Park on Sunday, I was in despair. And also sick with a head cold. Maybe they were related? No matter!

I went to art class on Monday, and during the critique of homework assignments, I had a revelation.

It's not about reality. It's about the piece.

What happened was this - someone had made a full color picture of their pet for the assignment, an animal which has black and white spots. I said something to the effect of, "because you used white, those are the brightest thing in the picture, and you should consider yellowing them to cream in order that they become less distracting." And another person in the class was like, "but if the creature is black and white, you should use black and white..."

But, no. You shouldn't. Because art is not reality. It's a shorthand form of reality. (Also! there are a billion shades of white, and you quilters know this already, am I right?)

And in an image the lightest thing (or the darkest, or the most saturated, or whatever it is) in the picture is going to be the center of attention, so you need to choose it carefully. And! Also, back to my own problems with my piece, you can't just cram shit in because you spent days drawing it and it's part of the story in your head that compelled you to start the silly thing in the first place.

It's not about reality. It's about the piece.

I have another illustration of the point, from a 3D class I took nearly a decade ago. We had a project where we had to make a clay model combining two unrelated objects that shared features into one object.

I made a dinosaur, modeled off a stuffed animal:

But for its tail it has a set of teeth. My teeth, to be exact, modeled off of the cast I got from my orthodontist when he finished mucking with my teeth.

The ones on the left to be precise.

 Now, this piece was submitted for the student show, and it was not accepted. And my professor, who had been at the jurying explained to me why. It was because of the tail.

This tail:

Because it has that shelf! Because that shelf does not make sense as part of the piece. Although it was there in the teeth, it doesn't actually work as part of a dinosaur. I had made a literal translation of two objects, without ever considering them as a whole. And they were right to reject it!

Because... It's not about reality. It's about the piece.

Anyways, I've been thinking. About needing to unify the piece, about letting go parts that don't work.

So, I present, after an evening's labor, a simplified (both in color and in motifs) Dragon's Park:

I have dropped the double dragon (though I spent days getting that right, ha!) the lovers (ditto), and the keys (ditto!). I went for reflected rather than rotated dragon/trees. I rotated most of the elements so that they are now approaching vertical orientation, which reduces that pesky optical illusion of slanting... (They are not symmetric shapes, so they can't be perfectly straight.) It still doesn't quite work, because clearly the pieces don't quite fit together, and mostly because the trees should fill the space above the gate, rather than looking so stunted, but it's absolutely an improvement.

And my favorite pieces are still there, so yay!

I also picked a color family to work from - to give an extra push for unity - and except for two saturated hues, the apples/blood and the gate/dying trees, every tone gets greyer as it gets lighter.

New Spoonflower link here.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I also once got rejected for being too literal in a high school art class with my interpretation fo the assignment, but yours is so much more interesting. Dragon's Park is beautiful.