Terms as regards the art and design worlds…

I have been at this computer for at least two hours, now, reading over my backposts (to a point…I mean, really) and researching the differences between fine art and design.  I know there are some things which really don’t become clear without education…and in my case this has been largely experiential.

For instance, when people in my Continuing Drawing class commented on the “graphic” qualities of certain artworks (like mine), I really was not certain what they meant by the term “graphic.”  At this point, I can connect the term with a certain genre of visual statements…graphic art tends to be bolder and to be designed to grab and hold one’s attention more than, say, Water LiliesWater Lilies, by Monet, is a great series of artworks (if I’m correct in thinking they’re a series and not just one piece), but they are not “graphic” in the sense that they are not designed to purposely grab one’s face and cause one to look at them.

The project I was working on earlier — the stencil composition, which I’m loving at this point — falls into the genre of Graphic Art because it creates a very bold statement, even though it is still art in that it doesn’t have a clear-cut and singular meaning.  It’s Graphic Art, not Graphic Design.  Graphic Design, as mentioned here, is meant to convey a specific meaning in order to motivate the viewer to do something.

So, for example, if I had taken up the task of creating a composition with the specific goal of dissuading people from smoking on campus, that would have fallen under the heading of Graphic Design, not Fine Art or Graphic Art, or so I’m thinking.  This is because there is a fixed, set message which is predetermined, and the graphics are being used in the employ of communicating that message.  Hence, there actually can be compositions made which “fail” in their essential purpose of communicating that set message, because that task is the only reason they exist at all.

However, Art (as versus Design) is…looser, I want to say.  There are no set-in-stone ways of communicating what is within one, in this field.  The messages one can take away from it are also not fixed.  It’s more of an expressive thing which, in the case of the visual arts, utilizes the sense of sight in order to somehow touch others.

This is not for the purpose of motivating someone else to do some specific action.

In my experience…there seems to be an aspect of Fine Art that really reaches people on some level beyond the rational.  Of course, this is employed in the service of Graphic Design as well, however…Graphic Design has a set task at hand.  Fine Art is what one makes of it.  I still haven’t thought to research Illustration, though obviously there is a very long tradition there, going back at least to illuminated manuscripts.

The other distinction that I can see arising is this difference between drawing and painting.  I mentioned this a while ago.  I’ll see if I can find that post.  Being in Art History is actually clarifying a bit of this, for me.  Apparently — at least in Europe — prior to the High Renaissance, art was mostly done using line and largely eschewing color.  Sounds like “Drawing” a bit, yes?  During the Mannerist period, which followed the High Renaissance and preceded the Baroque, people started to split into different camps as regarded whether they thought line or color were more important in creating images.  This continued into the Baroque.

But in any case, what I’ve experienced in my Drawing and Painting classes is twofold:

  1. Drawing, at least in the beginning stages, focuses on line and monochromatic representations of reality.  This is often (but not always) accomplished at first with dry media, like chalks and charcoal, pencils, etc., though ink — and pastel — here, provide bridges into Painting (particularly with the less-waxy media, unless one is using a solvent which can dissolve an oil- or wax-based crayon).
  2. Painting builds upon the foundation of drawing by gradually introducing the use of multiple shades of the same color, and then full-color renditions of experience.  This is often accomplished using fluid media — watercolors, oils, acrylics — though I’ve also used pastel and aquarelles within Painting classes.  This also somewhat implicates oil pastels, when dissolved with an appropriate thinner, though I don’t know much about that (I’ve avoided working with oils because of toxicity concerns).

Taking the Art History classes clarifies that both of these media have the strong potential to depart from representational rendering of what is seen in the outer world.  However; what seems to have happened is that Renaissance-era versions of representation are taught in Drawing, and post-Renaissance departures from what had been established tradition, are addressed in Painting.  That is:  monochromatic color schemes and heavy use of line are more directly related to Drawing, whereas the utilization of areas of color or tone are more directly related to what we know today as Painting.

I totally wouldn’t have gotten that without the Art History class.  🙂  At this point I kind of wonder what else I can learn, once given a jumping-off point.  At least now, you know, I know to look at the Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, and Rococo periods together in order to form some kind of idea of — and response to — what has happened in the past.  Unfortunately, the first three sections of this are parts of Art History which I may not have time to delve deeply into, before the class period is up.

Gearing up to power through the rest of the semester


I now have my final two Studio projects in-progress.  I think that it will be…really nice.  One project in particular is based on stenciling, kind of a Graphic Art-type project.  I’ve begun blocking out my areas of color already — in the final presentation I should have black + white + two intermediate greys.  I get to work on this tomorrow!  I’m kind of psyched.  (I almost worked on it instead of posting here, but felt the need to write.)

The process of blocking out differing areas of color really…causes me to make decisions on-the-fly as to what to include and what to leave blank.  I’m thinking that I’ll use a light grey background with two different darker tones, plus areas of white.  I was just introduced to the joy of white Sharpies yesterday.  Pretty cool.

I realized some time after we began working on these yesterday that we were supposed to divide our photos into different tones on our huge prints of these.  That was supposed to be what the Sharpies (black) and white chalk were supposed to be used for.  Imagine my confusion when I tried to mark on my acetate with white pastel and found it didn’t work.  I mean, absolutely didn’t work.  No grip, no mark.  Then what were we supposed to do with these?  I didn’t know until I looked at what some of the less-prepped students were doing (that is, the people without all their materials) — they were using the white chalk on the printouts.  Something to be said for taking it slower, eh?

I will also have to work on a composition for the reverse side — the theme is “shoes.”  I’m planning on using the shoes that look like combat boots but have a wide stacked heel.  I do like them, even though they’re hard to get my foot into and don’t have enough padding in them to take my standing in them for nine hours.

Then there is ink drawing for my Figure Drawing class.  I wasn’t doing really great at it until my prof suggested blocking in the entire figure with water or a very light wash, and then adding details.  Once I started working like that, it was much easier and I was much more successful.  I need to work on using a full range of tones from lightest gray to black, though.  I was hesitant on using the deeper tones, even though I did realize — today — that the pieces with the deeper shades were more…gravitational, I guess.  This is even though I thought I was screwing them up in the process.

One of my brushes — my Mao Little Ying — is also on its last legs.  I found when I tried to use it that the bamboo handle is split nearly the entire length of the brush on two sides.  I’m not sure if I left it resting in a puddle of water, or what — though I do know now that I probably really should hang them to dry, if not just taking most of the water out of them before putting them away.

The only things holding that brush together are the end cap on one side and a piece of string, on the other.  I really did like that brush.  I suppose I can go tomorrow and see if there are any comparable brushes at the one smaller store I do visit.  Or…I suppose I could try Japantown.  Not that I really want to take a trip over there at this point in the semester…bridge tolls plus parking and all that, though I suppose it is also actually almost the beginning of next month.

I also realized yesterday that I actually needed far less ink for my sumi drawings than I thought I did.  This means I can conserve some, I guess?  I’m not sure if I should get a glass eyedropper from Whole Foods or something, or keep using the disposable ones.  (The water cups at school smell like mold, I’ve found — now that I know that the smell of the clay in my high school Ceramics class was probably mold…)

Today was supposed to be my next-to-final presentation in Art History, but it was put off until next week.  I’m a little torn as to whether to continue to work on it.  At the least, I can find a better source than Wikipedia for my opening comments, and I should have the time to do it, now.

So, there is that Art History presentation to give, and then it’s just our Final assignments and that Final presentation!  I have three more weeks to go.  I can do this.

Sis’s Necklace, part 2

I was cruising around the “macrame” tag on here and found a lot of inspiration.  I have a better idea of what I want to do now for Sis’s necklace.  For my own peace of mind I will make it without the goal of being paid in my thoughts.

I remembered how easy the Snake knot was for me — I’m thinking of doing this with different colored cords and two colors of size 6 seed beads, which match the pendant.  I can’t find the sheet of paper with the relevant dimensions, but I think she wanted it 16″ long.  I’ll make two parts which can be connected to the pendant with chain and/or jump rings, and just knot it off at the other end in a clamshell bead tip or something, if I can’t get the knot small enough.

Yay!  At least I’ll enjoy doing this!  (and this is after wondering how people can spend so much of their life knitting…maybe for them it is like me with knotting…)

Sis’s necklace

So my sister-in-law gave me a pendant some months ago for which she wanted a necklace made.  I had been hesitant to take this on for pay, as I am still not certain of the legalities of selling beadwork which was made using known and/or public domain thread paths.  Now that I write it out, I do realize that a thread path is different than a pattern or design…kind of?

Anyhow, I’ve been avoiding it.  But tonight I got up and took another look at the pendant, and went and matched it with some beads I have in multiple sizes.  I don’t have much time before the window to give this to her in person will close, and I’ve got three weeks of hell coming up where it comes to Art History, in particular (I was absent, freaking out about my Studio assignments, and missed out on the chance to give my final presentation during Finals week).

Though I do suppose that I don’t entirely need to get a great grade in that class, anyway (it’s not even an elective for my Certificate).  The only real issue is my fee waiver and whether that will remain in effect if I get a poor grade…which would be rather stupid, because I’ve been doing more work for that class than a number of people.  And actually,  maybe I should be preparing just to make it through the next several weeks and preserve my grade, rather than try and actually learn the material and get a poor grade.


My book rental expires a week after classes end, so it may be very likely that I’ll miss the Renaissance, Mannerism, and Baroque information, even though I did attend the lecture yesterday.  I suppose it isn’t hard to find information on that if you know what you’re looking for, though.

And really, all I have to do is give this presentation next week, and complete the final paper and project.  I just am not sure how much background information from the surrounding eras I’ll need in order to do so.

There are a number of pressures on my time.  Family stress is ramping up and won’t be over until at least the end of the semester.  The only reason I’ve been able to be so relaxed recently is that I de-prioritized Art History in favor of my Studio classes.  I should check the syllabus, really, and see how things are graded; maybe it isn’t as bad as I think.  I should also try and read the section of the book I’ll have to present on in a week, at least.  I might be able to do research on it tomorrow or the day after.

Sounds like a plan…

Yeah, now I understand why my friend was living off of Spaghetti-O’s…

Okay, so the art projects can be expensive.  I just went out today and collected everything I didn’t have, and needed, for my final two projects.  It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that there is a kind of startup cost, where basic materials are being collected (like cutting mats), and incidental costs for things that I want to try but could probably live without.

Like Payne’s Gray acrylic paint…though I’m sure Prof would say that Payne’s Gray is actually essential.  😉

I was actually able to find 5 mil acetate at a plastics store.  (I love that plastics store!)  I realized, once there, what happened — Prof had mistakenly written that the acetate should be 5 mm instead of 5 mil thick, so…those are very different units which are spelled similarly.  5 mil is a sturdy film; 5 mm is closer to 1/4″.  It was relatively expensive — I got eight square feet, which ran me about $16, but this is a much lower cost than buying a pad of acetate of the wrong size (or roll of acetate which I don’t immediately need) for $55.

Critique of the self-portrait happened today.  I will need to work on that for next Tuesday.  I didn’t realize that I could add in paint mixed with matte glazing medium in order to dilute the color but not fade out the hue, as happens when a hue like Burnt Sienna is mixed with Titanium White…or it could intensify it, when it comes to lightening a tone with yellow.  I didn’t even think of trying Zinc White (a more transparent white than Titanium) until after I got home.  Nor did I realize at any time before today that this is actually what matte glazing medium is meant to be used for.

But yeah — I think I’ll need to go back to the photograph in order to figure out some points which were not addressed in my preparatory drawing, and even out some skin tones, plus add some cooler deeper tones (Payne’s Gray + possibly violet or blue, in thin glazes) to the face.  Particularly the cheek, jaw, neck, lips need to be worked on.  Prof would like the hair to be different — right now it’s straight Dioxazine Purple (as I used for the shadows) with gel medium, and could be softened with some of the other colors in the portrait.  Right now I’m even thinking of mixing the ultra matte gel medium with the gloss gel medium and seeing what I get (ultra matte has a luster like broken chalk; gloss has a luster like glass), but that might be a bit…unpredictable.  I should test it out, first.

I’ve got more to say, but I’ll put it in another post.

Soft pastel plus acrylic media on acrylic supports?

I was over on createarteveryday’s most recent post, where the author was talking about experimenting with media, and I had a flash of illumination.

I have just realized that instead of doing an underpainting in pastel and then adding paint on top of it, I can do a drawing in pastel on gessoed Hardbord and then go over it with acrylic medium, to turn the pastel into paint.  When acrylic medium is added to dry chalk pastel, the colors seem to turn more vibrant, with better covering power.

I don’t know if it will work with all the colors — I’ve only tried it with a Sienna and Umber, plus what I was trying to underpaint in before I realized it was a waste of time, but it’s something to think about for the future!  The main drawback to using pastel on an acrylic support is that if I’m using stretched canvas, it’s a bit springy.  But I don’t have to use stretched canvas, at all.

*kermit dance*