Project 1 Rejected Ideas

I realised that my self-rejected ideas takes up a lot of space in the final Project 1 post, so I decided to take it out and put it separately! Here’s a link back to the actual post.

 

TASK 1

Similar in the idea of fragmentation, but with much more semiotics. There would be a lot of items laid around me, such as my Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary cup, headphones, manga books, Watership Down, and I’d be dressed in certain clothes to imply femininity, cultural alignment, etc. A very prominent reason for me ditching this idea was just the sheer level of preparation, where it felt wrong to be purposefully setting up a scene to paint myself as more than what I am.

Incidentally, I have a new computer and I still can’t figure out how to use anything beyond Paint, so this is about the best I can do right now. Forgive me.

The concept was to emphasise that multifaceted sensation, where the composition would all be the same, but differing locations and clothes would suggest different sides to me. I rejected this one for the sense of wholeness it would have, which would imply I am only those 3 identities, than something more than just that.

Look at this space above! I didn’t know you can’t scale beyond a set proportion in Paint!

 

TASK 2

Before I really got into the attention level thing, I focused on different uses of paper. Same as aforementioned, but with some additional ideas like a papercut skirt/cloak/whatever. This was rejected upon the realisation that there wasn’t enough display of emotion, as opposed to just presentation.

My physics isn’t very good, so it took me a lot of trial and error to capture the reflection successfully. In hindsight, though, there really wasn’t any meaning to it.

(There’s quite a few other unused prototype shots, remnants of a time before I suddenly and violently thought up the idea of differing levels of attention.)

I initially intended to focus more on the omnipresence idea by shooting in varied locations. There really wasn’t any good reason as to why this was rejected other than my self-consciousness (I tried. I really did, but people taking photos of you being in stupid positions while you’re taking photos on a self-timer, it does things to you.)

People are naturally unhelpful.

 

TASK 3

The bookshelf next to my bed is pretty important to me in that it provides easy access to any book, ranging from comics to Chinese comics to Japanese comics to one of those Disney Fairies books to actual literary works. I discarded this in the end due to the need to actually get up to be able to see the books (which breaks the angle consistency), and that I couldn’t find a way to fit it into the narrative.

I personally enjoy the geometry, but it just didn’t work.

Also, just leaving my bed in general.

 

FINAL REMARKS

Here’s a sample example of why I decided to leave all photos unedited.

Edited with about 6 different filters. Insert lengthy explanation on warm filter to show gentleness of the light, increased contrast/exposure/whatever to emphasise the brightness, heightened saturation to show greenness of bed, etc.

 

Original. I think the gentleness of the light is brought across, though it’s still evidently bright, also helping to bring across the feeling of the sheer curtain. The darkness of everything else accentuates that, though it’s still possible to make out certain forms and contours, and it feels natural and cosy in the lack of saturated colours or high contrast.

Then again, it could be that I’m just really, really bad at editing.

Project 1: Picture Story – Curating Self

From the moment everyone started putting up photos, I started calculating to see if I could actually not fail. What a piece of work is a man!

Here’s the final arrangement.

Final Display. While positioning within each task was intentional, overall positioning was a matter of me trying to actually fit everything in.

 

TASK 1

A

B

C

I don’t really know where I got this idea, it came out of nowhere, mostly. I suppose it was mostly based on the theory of positive and negative spaces, and how I’ve used a similar technique when doodling: draw a full fledged form, then use a penknife to cut out parts of the paper, leaving a still intact form, though missing certain parts.

Key Concepts & Ideas

If all of this is too long, I think this quote from Atonement by Ian McEwan is a pretty good summary as to explaining the feeling of infiniteness and nothingness which led me to this form. If not, then proceed ahead.

  • Fragmentation

Humans are multifaceted creatures ruled by change, where there is no derivable self from our flawed perspectives. Where the identity reshapes itself eternally and is too extensive, there is no way to express it tangibly. How can anyone comprehend me from only what they can discern? How can I know the unfathomable depths of my inconceivable lump of flesh? How can 3 photos capture the entirety of an intangible soul?

All that is visible is only what is perceived, but there are many things which cannot be seen. While it is easy to extrapolate and imagine you know what is in those fragments you can’t see based on what you CAN see, there is no certainty; there is only assumption. Consequently, in the lack of an ability to consolidate and present everything, I purposefully took a single photo, and presented pieces in a way that would make people assume it’s “me”, where that can still not be an absolute certainty, though it is likely.

Consequently, the final display has the photos at appropriate distances from each other to provide the idea of puzzle pieces in the right places.

To add onto that, I fall back onto presenting “nothing”:

  • Mundanity

It’s very simply a view of me outside my room, where I attempted to, minimally, ensure each photo provided sufficient context. Photo A shows that it is night, and that my hair is wet; B, the laundry pegs and distinctively hall railing; C, bare feet standing comfortably. (Also, not incredibly clear, but a towel is draped over my shoulders.) As I mentioned in the tutorial, it’s meant to give insight into a regular occurrence in my daily life, that of me tending to shower at night before hanging my hand-washed clothes outside, where I am often too lazy to wear footwear (it’s really a very, very short distance and I refuse to expend energy on something so unnecessary). There’s a lot I could say, like how I’ve developed all these little habits of air drying my hair versus blow drying, or draping a towel, or showering only at night, or not wearing shoes… But no matter how you analyse it, it’s literally just me doing something ordinary. It could be special that I drape my towel around my shoulders and let my hair air dry as I leave my hand-washed clothes to dry at night in hall, or it could be meaningless.

It’s a reflection of the fact that I am a mere ordinary creature, one of many humans who believe they are “unique”, when we are fundamentally more similar than we think. I’m horrified by the state of the world! I’m depressed by the transience of life! I’m pained by the cruelty of humanity! We make infinity out of nothingness. That people express those feelings is sometimes a form of egoism, that “I am more human than another” simply because you assume you hold more depth of character.

 

TASK 2

P

Q

R

This was a much more ordinary idea which didn’t involve me utterly neglecting everything we learned in class about framing and shot. The idea for the object mostly stemmed from right after the project brief was introduced, and I instantly remembered a photo which was once taken of me, back in junior college (the photographer was my classmate):

It was my origami phase.

I feel like what struck me about the photo was the seeming tenderness of the hands, and the “purity” of the image. I have a thing against showing my face, especially where I dislike looking at my face, facial expression is far too unsubtle, and I seem to have difficulty making my emotions and facial muscles synchronise.

That’s also where I got the idea for paper.

Key Concepts and Ideas

  • Varying levels of attention (linked to shot scale)

Paper is rather omnipresent, from the flyers we ignore to the paper we use in Foundation Drawing. I tried to present a sort of spectrum of attention versus inattention, where the physical distance between the paper and I indicated varying levels of focus.

Photo P shows me far away, neglecting the paper in favour of a destination; Photo Q, me interacting with the paper, but not as an object in its own right as opposed to a medium for drawing and writing (also reflected in lack of direct touch as opposed to through a proxy, the pen); Photo R, me interacting with the paper directly (that’s the face I make when I’m casually focused on something). Another factor to present that is the “gaze”, where my eyes go from not even seeing, to looking at the marks of the paper, to the paper itself.

In the final display, I varied the photo orientation to reflect that spectrum, where landscape = distant, portrait = intimate. (Also why there’s that one photo which is 45 degree slanted, it was a canted angle on purpose to make it appear straight when physically placed that way.)

  • Versatility of paper

Again, I had difficulty choosing an object simply because there are many things in my life that could both qualify and not. So when I thought of paper, I immediately decided to settle on that, as it’s something prevalent in all our lives (have you seen the number of trees art students kill?), which takes many forms which I interact with on a regular basis.

As a result, there’s a proud display of paper in its various “edited” forms, from cut paper to marked and folded paper. (In all honesty, I didn’t particularly exploit camera angle at all, as opposed to merely aiming to effectively catch everything in the photograph, especially in the flat nature of the paper in Photo 1 and 2.)

 

TASK 3

The bed was a natural choice, in that I spend most of my time on it. I’m a very mundane person: my daily routine is genuinely mostly bed.

0100

0700

0705

0710

0715

At first, I was very divided as to if I should use my bed, or the area below my HDB. The decision, however, was made for me when I woke up early to do my work, and decided I was too lazy to take the lift downstairs. Or even get out of my bed. As with Task 1, I attempted to “set up” the area and take photos with framing and shot in mind, but it felt unnatural, detached, curated. So I got back into bed and started taking photos with

  • Canted angles

Mostly to give that idea of lying down and just rolling around, without concern for proper shooting.  At least it’d feel more intimate, in my opinion. (On a photography level, the shot scale is mostly irrelevant, but most things are extremely close by default.)

  • Blurriness

This was mostly unintentional in that things were far too close up for the camera to actually focus on it. Still, I like to think it worked out in my favour, in that it gives a feeling of just waking up, and everything being out of focus (especially where I wear glasses, but not to sleep).

  • Segmentation

My initial plan was to capture important aspects of my bed, without any repeated ideas. This also contributed to a few other photos, which eventually didn’t make it into the final product due to the presence of:

  • Time progression (narrative)

Again, this was not intentional, but happened to happen because I take photos slowly. Each photo has a timing on it (24 hour clock), which indicates a general timeline.

  1. Going to sleep after doing work on the bed
  2. Blearily waking up to the sight of my hand clutching my pillow
  3. Looking up to see my phone alarm going off at the headboard
  4. Looking past the phone to see the light on the ceiling
  5. Looking at the foot of my bed to see the light streaming in from the window

In the final display I also varied the distance between each photo to indicate the amount of time between each photo (also why the 0100 photo was ridiculously far away from every other photo).

Everything above has mostly explained it, but to summarise, the Key Concept & Idea was the intimate and cosy connection between it and me, by providing a glimpse into a daily morning routine.

 

FINAL REMARKS & REFLECTIONS

All photos were left unedited simply because I opened the first photo in Photoshop, tried to put filters, and realised that I couldn’t find any good reason to edit the photograph whatsoever, in that nothing I did actually felt like it helped with what I was trying to convey, while the unedited versions actually brought across the sense of intimacy and normalcy I found important.

 

In the end, though, I feel like I’ve definitely tackled (or avoided?) the task in a really weird way, “curating myself” by “not curating myself”. For the next task(s), I’m vaguely curious to know if, when more divorced from the self, I’ll produce something which blends in seamlessly with everyone else’s.

There’s also another post here, about rejected photograph ideas and why.

W1 Interesting Object & Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

For the lesson, I brought my headphones, which was a decision mostly influenced by an overwhelming number of standard-shaped items, and the fact that my headphones are in fact quite a comfortable accessory which I like to bring everywhere.

Hi.

Personally, what I noticed first was

  1. Colour
  2. Symmetry (and Flatness)
  3. Positive/Negative Spaces (and Circularity)

Other things that Cheryl (Ms. Heng? I’m still not used to the first name thing) raised, which I didn’t really notice, was the texture, and proportions AFTER extending it (I guess you don’t think too much about changing the state when you’ve been using something in a certain state for too long).

In terms of colour, it’s predominantly black, with silver as the subdominant colour. I find that there’re different silvers as well, with the silver button(?) being subdominant by virtue of how bright and reflective it is (I personally feel like it’s so bright that it’s trying too hard to be dominant, which really irks me). The SONY words are also subdominant by virtue of size (it’s a much more tolerable silver to me), and the silver linings are so dull they’re effectively subordinate. The model name is mostly just irrelevant by virtue of size.

Extension. The easiest way to see it is if the wires begin to cross each other.

Cheryl also noted that the black varies in terms of texture, which was such a prominent point that I mentally slapped myself for not seeing it. There’s the matte black of the headband, as opposed to the glossy black of the earpieces (I’m not too sure what to call the black of the wire, but it resembles the matte more). After extending, a lot of rule of third comes into play: the headband makes up 2/3 and the earpieces 1/3. The silver button(?) is at the 1/3 mark, and the model name is also at the 1/3 mark, along with the extension marker.

Symmetry. Turning the earpiece makes it flat.

Symmetry is also a prominent feature to me, where it’s obviously a practical decision, but also makes it look harmonious. This symmetry applies from practically all angles. If the earpieces are turned accordingly, the headphones also allow for a flat plane from almost all angles too. (Incidentally, this is something I enjoy about the headphones, that it can lie flat around my neck and it can be flatten and kept.)

Something else of note is also the contrast of positive/negative spaces. The headband traces a circular shape which isn’t filled, and, fun fact! The radius of the void is roughly the diameter of the earpiece. Meaning, twice the size. What I DON’T like, however, is how all the shapes are all similar. You have circular earpieces, circular negative space, circular button(? it’s not actually a button but I have no other word for it), and it’s incredibly overwhelming. Perhaps it was intended for a sense of unison, so I might just be the outlier.

(I do like the flat wire though, even if the headband shares a similar shape too.)

It’s probably really obvious that I have problems with photography too, isn’t it 🙁

(There’s some stuff in the 2D sketch which I didn’t cover above since it was all mostly straightforward, so if you’re feeling up to it you can see as above.)

If there’s anything I’ve truly learned from Lesson 1, though, it’s that you shouldn’t make assumptions. It’s sorely disappointing to have nothing to be critiqued on because you misinterpreted the limits of the prompt (and didn’t clarify it!) so I shall have to make an effort to work on that.

I was given the theme of X Y Z axes, and 1. I assumed you couldn’t use adhesives and could only stack 2. I assumed you could use all 3 together to form 1 bigger picture, hahaha hahah a ha…. ha………………………….. Needless to say, I failed magnificently. So I redid the models. Here they are! (While I had the foresight to use my hoard of A2 paper, I severely overestimated its ability to accommodate the dimensions… Time to hoard A1 instead)

While making them, I tried to keep in mind the various comments Cheryl gave in class to everyone, on trying to avoid using boxes with dimensions which matched, flushing boxes to each other, rule of 3, ignoring colours for now, et cetera. On a personal level, I also tried to avoid using similar boxes, similar here having the same meaning as for similar triangles/rectangles/et cetera.

(Note that the distinction between the subdominant and subordinate is not particularly clear, where this was the only configuration I could make where the boxes were of varying dimensions, at the cost of being able to use size to differentiate dominance. I probably need a better box collection. Or to learn to prioritise.)

Side Front

Side Left

Side Back

Side Right

Dominant: Leo (L)

Subdominant: Mirror (S)

Subordinate: Medicine (XS) (but I think the longer width makes it almost equal size, in terms of volume, with the fairly thin mirror box)

For this, I tried to go with a more “random” feel, by spreading out the placement of boxes. That the other two boxes tend towards different edges of the dominant makes the dominant provide “height”, while the 2 other boxes jut outwards in different directions to form the other 2 axes. For no particular reason, I went all out on rule of third, so the mirror and medicine boxes are placed on 1/3 of the dominant box. 1/3 of the mirror box is not in contact with the Leo box either. (I personally find it boring, but that’s life I suppose.)

Side Front

Side Right

Side Back

Side Left

Dominant: Dynamo (XL)

Subdominant: Cap’n Crunch (M)

Subordinate: Whitey (M) (same issue. less length, but more height and width to make up for it)

For this, I neglected the recommendation to not flush boxes (a fair point, because the sheer amount of mass there is really drawing attention away from the dominant), but I wanted to try making an “origin”, the point of intersection for axes. I considered stacking all 3 on top of each other instead to form the point (while still having Crunch and Whitey jut outwards), but I felt like that would accentuate 1 axis far more than the others, so… In hindsight, though, the dominant is so big that it already makes 2 axes quite prominent, and leaves 1 severely lacking where the other boxes are unable to provide the same level of support, and especially where Whitey is making the already long length even longer. I have no idea how to rectify this, but to be fair the very poor selection of boxes and even more poor decision to flush the boxes had long screwed this one over. It’s always good to know what doesn’t work, I guess!

I’m atrocious with anything involving more than flat planes, so 3D is really looking to be a challenge, but I… Shall do what I can. Which is not a lot. But, as McEwan once wrote, “the attempt was all”.

Exercise 1: Scale & Framing

This is Niki! I don’t really know much about her because we only met about 12 days ago! But I generally feel like she gives off a very chill/casual/cool vibe, and her posture especially reflected that in this assignment. Consequently, I felt like mid-range shots worked best for her (to accentuate her stance).

I feel like the canted angle makes her look like she’s standing slanted, which is quite informal and “cool” as opposed to standing straight!
The “cool” vibe is really coming out in my opinion because she looks so tall (she’s also actually tall. I couldn’t take any high angle shots)
In my opinion that’s a really nice chill stance, especially with the casual clothes, hands in pockets and feet apart.

 

Fight on Niki

W2 Mark Making~

For Lesson 2, we engaged in mark making, also known as “use whatever you have with ink to create random things”. For convenience’s sake, I mention the material, methodology and conclusion for most of the results. Hopefully that will help if you’re reading this to gain inspiration. (Unless otherwise stated, all of the things I tried were unconscious decisions, where I randomly did whatever I felt like doing.)

Opting to work in a logical order, I began with my plant-related items, branches and leaves. These were picked up around school, mostly. (A humorous anecdote involves me holding my freshly-picked branches at the CCA fair, and a girl complimenting me on my “nice accessorising!”)

Initially, I attempted to mark by having the paper pressed from above onto the linoleum with branches and leaves. Sadly, I may have overzealously placed too many items, resulting in a tragic lack of… Anything.

I tried.

I quickly surmised that this style does not work well with my leaves, because it’s good for emphasising positive and negative spaces, and the unique edges, but not so much on the textures. Consequently, I attempted using the inked leaves directly, like a stamp of sorts. (After the initial tameness, I went more into trigger-happy leaf actions)

Material: Leaf

Methodology: Painting leaf with ink, pressing onto paper, piak-ing onto paper, circular wiping with leaf on paper

Conclusion: I like how the leaf has a certain symmetry, with the veins being the most prominent and forming a sort of skeletal shape. But I think it’s even more intriguing that, with sufficient pressure while circular wiping, the leaf loses most of its unique qualities (possibly because the ink dried too) while making nice arcs (when properly turned).

I had brought my own drawing ink as well, so I attempted to use a twig with it, like some sort of dip nib. Surprisingly, it became weirdly effective as a makeshift calligraphy pen when placed almost parallel to the paper.

Material: Twig

Methodology: Dipping twig in drawing ink, then grazing surface of paper with tip and side of twig

Conclusion: It’s difficult to control, but the variation in line quality is superb. The more it’s laid parallel to the paper, the thicker the stroke, and when filed to a point, a thin line. Sort of like what we learn in Foundation Drawing about hard and soft edges.

I tried this again with a different twig, and folded the paper to make space, while dumbly forgetting that wet ink would definitely transfer.

At least it looks kind of nice.

To my horror, the linoleum had bits and pieces of wood and natural sediments on it, and so I attempted, vainly, to lightly scratch it off the ink with a leaf. Note that “lightly” should never co-exist in a sentence with “I” in it, because I’m a “go big or go home” type, and my self-restraint is very low. I gave up trying to maintain an even spread, and opted to just use that to make more marks.

Yeah, I don’t really think that’s how it’s meant to be done, but it works.

It turned out pretty nice in my opinion.

Material: Another leaf

Methodology: Scratching linoleum mindlessly, then pressing linoleum onto paper

Conclusion: The scratching pattern was very random, but I guess I tend towards circular motions. I like the mess of scribbly lines, especially against the unwashed linoleum with pre-existing textures. Especially because I was messing around doing it, this pattern gives me a vibe of energy.

 

Next, I tried using the texture of the tree bark (?). This didn’t work out particularly well since it was difficult to apply sufficient pressure to make interesting marks without breaking the bark, but there was an attempt.

Material: Bark

Methodology: Painting bark with ink, then rolling bark on paper

Conclusion: I mean… It was an underwhelming result. I’m mostly disappointed. Maybe I should have tried pressing the paper onto the bark than the bark on the paper for more effect. Or slabbing on more paint.

After all the plant-related items, I went into the more outrageous items (this next item is going to be awkward). For this, I did it the typical way, i.e. putting the material onto the linoleum, then pressing onto paper, then separating the linoleum and material and pressing both onto the paper separately.

Material: ……………. Girls will know

Methodology: Pressing linoleum + materials on paper, pressing linoleum (without materials), pressing materials (without linoleum)

Conclusion: After the initial disgust, this actually has a fairly interesting texture, and shapes. You can see the vaguely porous surface, and the patterns on it. While it’s absorbent, when pressed sufficiently the ink comes out only lightly, so it’s not as high contrast as the rest.

Other things I quickly tried before time was up was bubble wrap, various papers (tissues, toilet paper, Scotch Brite paper), and hair (acquisition of this material involved vaguely repulsive cleaning of a communal bathroom).

Material: Bubble wrap

Methodology: Wearing the bubble wrap like a glove and slapping it around the paper

Conclusion: I personally think the most interesting part is how the bubbles aren’t of even surface texture (I don’t know why I expected perfect circles, actually), and it provides a nice consistent pattern of evenly-shaped circles.

Again, I tried traditional pressing!

The tissue after being used
Result of aforementioned

Material: Scotch Brite paper, tissue paper, toilet paper, hair

Methodology: Pressing

Conclusion: Again, I don’t find this technique particularly interesting, especially since all of these items don’t have particularly interesting outlines. Perhaps if I used something which was bad at holding ink, so it’d leak through?

(Look, I went through a lot of internal turmoil to get this hairball, so I might as well maximise it.)

Material: Hair

Methodology: Soaking in ink, pressing and rolling it around

Conclusion: I liked how the density of hair showed clearly, with black splotches where there was a lot of hair, and stringy lines for stray hairs. Also how… Centralised it is, in having a core and then the hairs coming out

Somewhere at the start, I also decided to line the table with newsprint paper to avoid excessive staining. I also later discovered this also served as a bizarre way of mark making, and a convenient way of wrapping everything up when it’s time to go.

Hence, while clearing up, I took the opportunity to do some final marks:

(Had more fun than I probably should have…)

I tried to not waste ink by making more marks with it. I wasn’t too interested in yet another normal print, so I tried crumpling the paper.
Close up

I really adore how it looks like branching veins. And on closer inspection, like a landscape, especially when combined with the 3D aspect of crumpled paper. Next time I might want to consider varying the level of crumple, since for this I was really extremely thorough in crumpling it to tiny bits.

Here’s where I accidentally touched my linoleum with newsprint…

Me, wiping down my hands as best as I could. I like how it’s still textured, rather than smooth like if you were to wipe down a brush.

Where I tried to wipe down my used linoleum again. You can really see the straight edge of the linoleum.

Finally, a threnody for an abandoned item, my uneaten vegetables. As a person of dubious morals, I attempted a zero waste lifestyle by saving them for class. Unfortunately, they rotted. May they rest in peace.

RIP.

It was a very fun experience, but I still haven’t really analysed what these marks make me feel, and how, meaning I’m no closer to completing Project 1 than last week. Will probably try to do that in a separate post later, when I get back the physical papers.

W1 Research (Cy Twombly)

This is a post about an artist from the list of artists for the Project Brief, Cy Twombly. I think his name is very “twirly”? In terms of the sounds, though a fun fact is that he’s actually called Edwin.

The work I’ll be looking at specifically is Quattro Stagioni (ITA; Four Seasons) (fun fact, Googling the Italian name gives you pizza). Some basic information to set the context, is that it was:

  • Worked on while he was living in Italy
  • From when he was around 65 years old
  • Completed between 1993-94
  • Done with acrylic & oil paints, along with pencil and crayon, on four canvas
Photograph from https://theartstack.com/artist/cy-twombly/quattro-stagioni

Personally, I find it useless if I just copy and paste what I understand by reading reviews by others online, so I will attempt to interpret it on my own. This will hence is incredibly speculative, and you can instead skip to this link for a professional summary which won’t be as longwinded.

For me, I feel like some of the most prominent characteristics which stood out to me were

Name

To start off, I found the preference for the Italian name intriguing. Did you know that he is an American, and only moved to Italy when he was about 30 years old? Wikipedia states that he was an avid pursuer of “romantic symbolism”, and in my opinion this is a way in which it is reflected: Italian is a language associated with love and beauty, especially when it is also not a native language, such that it has the exotic charm of the foreign. However, the official name of the work is never confirmed as to if it’s the Italian or English name, and I feel that that, in a way, also reflects the universality of the seasons, that it transcends physical borders, still “works” no matter what language is used.

Colour Choices

On a less Meta level, the colour choices are rather striking to me. When I look at it, I instantly identify that it has to do with a presentation of nature across seasons, possibly because the colours are mostly naturalistic colours than seemingly-synthetic colours.

Most of the canvases are minimally painted with a base coating of bluish-white, and feature the colour yellow in various shapes and extents. I feel that that’s a way in which Twombly seeks to unify the 4 canvases, and by extension, solidify the idea that the seasons are ultimately connected even if the form changes (i.e. the yellow and bluish-whites don’t maintain a constant shape across all canvases). In hindsight, perhaps the yellow is reflective of the sunlight, and how it highlights features, while the bluish-white indicates the sky.

Yet, to offset the idea that all seasons are the same, he uses different main colours for all canvases. Spring is associated with crimson red and summer features only yellow, while winter has a dark green. Autumn is the most colourful, from crimson red to magenta to dark green and blue.

I find this puzzling, personally, since it goes against many of the ideas I associate with seasons.  Winter is often associated with barrenness, but here, the dark green gives off the suggestion of flourishing evergreen conifers (basically, Christmas tree trees), surprisingly also another sensible way to look at winter.

Photograph from https://pxhere.com/en/photo/120067

I consider summer a season for the thriving, yet unexpectedly there is nothing but the “sun” and the “sky”. Perhaps it’s because Italy is a Mediterranean country: supposedly, in that part of the world, summer is associated with dryness, and hence potentially barrenness. Even more challengingly, I would associate spring with beginnings and renewal, and henceforth pastel colours to represent that budding nature. Here, however, it’s red, for what I presume are flowers. Could this be another way of seeing the seasons through an Italian context? Red poppies, maybe, which are supposedly the first flowers to begin blooming according to this site, and which are associated with sleep and remembrance. Spring, the time in which flowers awaken from sleep, a remembrance of former glories.

Photography from http://point-of-no-23.livejournal.com/989036.html

Autumn, however, seems to make a lot of sense for me somehow: it is the season of change, and that is reflected in the harmonious union of various colours, reds and greens of fall leaves as they blend together.

Shapes

I personally find Autumn the most aesthetically pleasing, not just due to the colours, but also the shapes used. It’s not something I can explain, but I really like the variations in marks, from paint flowing down by gravity to brush strokes to aggressively-rubbing-brush-bristles-against-canvas (forgive the wording, I have no knowledge of painting techniques). There’s even a few markings which resemble little branches with berries on it.

All the canvases have rather different types of markings as well: Spring features repeated shapes of a horizontal line intersected by multiple vertical lines (I’d still like to think those are poppies, but it’s a very stretched notion); Summer, blotches with the paint flowing downwards; Winter, what appears to be a paintbrush haphazardly brushed in short strokes. I still don’t quite understand the reasoning behind the shapes of the marks, though, so maybe I’ll try to think of how they make me feel.

Autumn… Feels haphazard, like a mess of various different markings. That probably ties in with the idea of Autumn being the season of change. Again, Winter resembles wintry trees to me, with the rough leaves in the shape of a Christmas tree. Summer remains a mystery to me, but it makes me feel somewhat lethargic, like the paint rolling down lazily. Spring, too, is an enigma, it feels rather crisp, possibly linking to the idea of spring as a season of rebirth.

Negative Spaces

(I won’t really discuss negative spaces, which seem mostly to be a decision of minimalism in focusing on key shapes than attempting to illustrate in full detail.)

Words

Something else which remains puzzling to me is the presence of words. Autumn is clearly labelled, albeit in crooked handwriting, while Summer (and possibly Spring) features illegible chicken scratch. What do I make of this? Nothing, maybe. Maybe Autumn was labelled for the pure fact that he worried that people would not be able to identify it correctly without assistance, due to the vibrancy one might associate with other seasons.

Arrangement

In which case, Autumn may be the most important canvas of them all. After all, it is not always arranged in the order we always assume: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. There is another order currently being used in the Tate Art Gallery, that of Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer (this is allegedly his preferred order). Again, I am clueless: this may simply be a personal preference, where he sees autumn to be the “first” season unlike typical opinion.

In The End

Reading actual reviews, I somehow managed to understand about 35% of the ultimate message despite getting the interpretation all wrong. I’m not surprised to see that I was incredibly off the mark in terms of interpretation, where many artistic choices were in fact shaped by Twombly’s personal preferences: for example, Autumn was inspired by Italian wine harvests and is meant to invoke a sense of relaxation. (Also, the shapes in Spring are supposed to emulate Egyptian war boats, which I still can’t see clearly.)

Image from http://www.hobbyworldinc.com/woodship79.html

All in all, I’d say the most crucial takeaway is that of “individual input”. It seems like a lot of the choices behind the paintings are driven by Twombly’s personal opinions, experiences and knowledge, which deviates wildly from my own, and as such I find it difficult to comprehend what he sees, relying on my own perception to form a meaning for myself based on my own experiences. I admire his ability to shrug off universal assumptions to input his own unique way of perceiving the world, though somewhat at the cost of understanding (or it could just be me). I suppose the key would be to balance between the standardised definitions set by the world, and one’s own meanings formed by personal insights.