An element- final

In the process of researching for this task, we had to find out more about the reference artists, as highlighted by my previous posts. I found some interesting reference points from various specific artists, such as Hilma af Klint and Jackson Pollock. Both of these artists reference greatly to Mysticism within their artworks- Klint using symbolism of Mysticism to overlay details into her work, while Pollock captures the spirituality of Mysticism with his colors and spontaneous drips. Hence, I was drawn to the idea of emotions and Mysticism elements. I found it interesting that people have always associated emotions with the natural elements, how a volcano eruption and smoke represents Pele’s anger (Hawaiian Fire Goddess), or a calm ocean tide represents Poseidon’s (Greek God of Sea) relaxed state.

With this project, I referenced all 6 emotions to a natural element each. In addition, I wanted to portray all 6 elements/emotions coming together, showing the process of the emotion building up, instead of a fully formed emotion.

Love, Surprise, Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness


Love- Electricity/Magnetism

Under the emotion of Love, I broke it down into attraction and passion. I wanted to recreate the imagery of magnetic waves undulating in different wavelengths, shown in the diagram below. The concentration of magnetic waves at different points and coming together with an invisible force represents the physical imagery of love.

I used wire brush with a close length in between each hair follicle to paint the “magnetic waves”. I did it in a wave- like manner, curving at each end, and pressing with more force at the curves to signify concentration. I played with the texture of the print- areas with little concentration dabbled with short lines with rougher surface while area with high concentration is dark and visually heavier, portraying passion. The visual tension depicts the emotion of love coming together.
A problem faced with this emotion was the application. I had to choose between the spontaneity of using the wire brush or using a sharp tipped pen to draw out the physical “magnetic waves”. The former was chosen due to the spontaneity of the chosen emotion.

Wire brush
First Attempt
Heavier Marks- Final Choice

Surprise- Water

Under the emotion of Surprise, I wanted to portray the idea of surprise genuinely as it was an emotion that differs from people to people. Hence, I decided to explore on the concept of Rorschach, referenced to Warhol’s Rorschach series. However, I found that a typical black ink Rorschach to be too dense with its color, unable to physically decipher its texture and space, hence I used diluted ink instead. The Rorschach will differ according to the individual audience’s perspective, hence becoming a surprise. The dilution of the Rorschach will feature the texture of the moving ink, portraying the liquidity trait of the ink, as if frozen in its movement, building up the surprise.
I used a diluted bottle of ink, added with vanilla essence to provide an additional sense of surprise, creating a lightly dabbed Rorschach with an interesting scent- creating a double layer of surprise, sight and smell.

Test Making
Test Marking
Test Marking
Final Choice

Joy/Positivity- Light. Fear/Negativity- Dark

Under the emotions of Joy and Fear, I decided to explore both emotions together as they are contrasting emotions of the same spectrum. I referenced this work to Andy Warhol’s shadow series, using the positive space concept for the “Fear” emotion, while the “Joy” aspect uses negative space heavily. In deciphering Fear and Joy, I see it as polarizing emotions, much like Dark and Light. Hence, I used the same artwork and cut it into two pieces for these emotions- the one with strong negative space being light while the one with heavy positive space being dark.
I used a metal ruler to physically drag the ink over a paper, mimicking Andy Warhol’s Shadow. The physical motion of dragging ink creates a denser area at the bottom, while the lack of ink at the top creates a faint texture mimicking light, much like light and dark conflicting each other. ( I found that the test making of a controlled composition of bottom up more suitable for the theme of duality in this emotion, since the test making of the tones coming from all angle was slightly more overwhelming with “Fear” than conflicting emotions.

Heavily Textured
Close up
Using a ruler to spread the ink
Test making
Test Making
Final Choice

Anger- Fire/Smoke

Under anger, it was easier as fire is always personified as angry due to the presence of tension and energy building up. I referenced to Cai Guo Qiang’s Gunpowder series, using the stains of smoke marks to hint of fire, as smoke and fire comes as a duo. I wanted to create an imagery of smoke becoming thicker in different areas, a metaphor of anger building up. In creating such features, I dabbed a crushed soft tissue with ink onto the paper, layering and layering the ink to create the desired imagery. I also added circling movements to create a smoky texture. I had previously explored on these themes on an earlier post.

Cai Guo Qiang. Exploding House,
Gunpowder on paper,

Using Flowers as Material
Final Choice

Sadness- Ice

Under the emotion of sadness, I wanted to portray the idea of loneliness as a poetic “cold shoulder”, hence I chose the element Ice. Ice has always been an element referenced as isolating and apathetic, therefore literary terms like “Ice queen” exists. I wanted to capture the sharp edged and clean cut form of Ice, much like the physical form of a snowflake.
In creating the imagery, I dabbed a long ruler along its length to create a long lined mark on the paper. I did so continuously, forming an image of sharp lines coming together in the centre. After exploration of spontaneous mark making and also controlled application, I decided to use the controlled version due to the hardy texture and geometric space “Ice” as an element encompasses. I also used the width of the long ruler to create shorter lines. The usage of lines, dark and light, creates a visual space of foreground and background, and without a subject matter like Pollock’s works, isolates the audience. In attempts to create a stronger foreground background contrast, i folded the paper to form thin but yet visible lines. This references heavily to Willem de Kooning‘s Expressionistic work and Piet Mondrian‘s Pier & Harbour Series, using the visual dimension to draw audience in, and without a subject matter, creates the idea of isolation.

Piet Mondrian. Composition 10. Pier and Harbour 1915
Willem de Kooning. Attic 1949
Exploring Paintbrush Stick
Test making
Folding Paper
Exploring Ruler as a Material
Test making
Final Choice


Overall, the main difficulty I experienced with this assignment was the attempt of concentrating the desired emotion within one small patch of paper, which was difficult since famous artists like Pollock and de Kooning are able to portray emotions through their works because the sheer size of their works are almost mural like. However, I had to distinctively choose out areas to crop out of my works, giving rise to the final composition seen below. Also, there was a lot of conflicting ideas between choosing how the final application is carried out, be it spontaneous or controlled application, ultimately, it depended on the emotion’s visceral nature.

Final Layout

A jar of ink

After an in depth discussion of the reference artists, i took to understanding that emotions are mainly the vessels at which artists sought out in art, such as Jackson Pollock who painted his feelings directly from his mind (through his kinetic motions) into drips of paint.

Artists also used spontaneity to create a dynamic composition, like how Cai Guo Qiang does, crafting works that are almost impossible to recreate due to the unlikely probability of repeated action.

There are also artists who weigh the balance between emotions and spirituality, such as Hilma Klint, who expressed her worship while paralleling to her own emotions in her work.

With reference to these artists, of course with a pinch of salt, i embarked on a journey of exploration with ink. In my perspective, humanity’s spirituality or mysticism from early ages have always been greatly linked to the emotions of a deitified being (God from whichever religion). For example, a forest fire or lightning storm has always been associated with anger while a river of clear water or light gale by the sea has been an insignia of peace and tranquility. I would want to use this mystic school of thought to experiment with the lines, since the primordial aspect of collecting naturally textured items and spontaneity of paint splatters brings art back to its raw form- i would want to associate my 6 emotions with 6 different elements of mysticism elements.


In this task of investigating Sadness, i am trying to convey the idea of withdrawn isolation as a literal and poetic cold shoulder, forming the artwork’s characteristics as traits i see in Ice. I am trying to portray the sharpness of ice, as well as the glacier’s infinite facades that are very diamond-esque. The first photograph shows a spontaneous attempt using a 30 cm ruler to mark out strong sharp lines congregating in the centre, like a  snowflake. The 2nd photograph is slight more controlled, with a smaller number of long lines flaked with smaller cuts around.  In both attempts, the paper is folded prior to create a background of receding lines. I would also experiment with more paper quality to bring out the sharpness, e.g. sandpaper.


In the task of investigating Fear, I wanted to explore the idea of fearing the unknown, thus i drew inspiration from the idea of smoke created by fire- elements greatly inspired by Cai Guo Qiang. I layered patches of ink made by fluffs of tissue, attempting to layer it into a cloud of smoke, concentrating in the middle. However due to time limitations, i was not able to bring out the depth of the smoke.


The last of this post, i am trying to convey the idea of Love. In my understanding, it would be intense and paralyzing, supposedly electrifying- as literal as it sounds. I took a wire brush and dipped it in paint, attempting to create a few spirals of magnetic waves undulating around the corners, forming a  dynamic composition of short lines travelling together. The top photograph was an attempt for stronger and heavier strokes, while the bottom photograph was tasked to be more clean cut and curvier.

A research: abstract andy

abstract artists often draw inspiration from the spontaneity of movement, inking emotions directly from their brain to the canvas.


Abstract Andy.

Shadows 1978.  Andy Warhol

102 panels of silkscreen production, lined edge by edge to form a monumental installation series.

< A series of positive and negative imprints, alternating in colors lined together creates a strong sense of multiplicity, a common theme in Warhol’s works. However, the multiplicity in old works like “Campbell Soup Cans” conveyed the omnipresence of consumerism, while “Shadows” presented a menacing force with its repetition in one direction.>

<The subject matter is amorphous as there are no distinct features unlike Warhol’s old works, where he was particularly communicative regarding the subject matters, taking on Pop icons for controversial discussions.>

Rorschach 1984. Any Warhol

<In exploring emotive lines, Rorschach’s ink blobs are the first of its kind, starting from 1921 by Hermann Rorschach. Its a visual test of paralleling perspective and emotions. It is a direct reference to the project brief of communicating emotions with ink, since the objective of the Rorschach is to identify emotions through the aesthetics. Warhol’s work, in irony, has never been officially confirmed to serve such a purpose. Warhol took on a psychologically charged subject, which is reminiscent of his earlier work’s like the Monroe series, where he strips off the individual intentions of an object. In Marilyn Monroe- a human being turned lifeless sex symbol; compared to Rorschach- a psychology test turned into a meaningless painting.>


Oxidation/ Piss Painting 1978. Andy Warhol

A series of painting created through the oxidation of copper paint and uric acid.

<This work is reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism painters like Jackson Pollock, using the spontaneous motion of the human body as a medium to create expressive works.Warhol uses the similarity to ridicule this high art expressionism by using human waste and sex organs, demeaning the hoity-toity reputation Abstract Art had built up over the decade.>