2D Project 3: Ego – Colours Research

I did a little bit of research on colours and how to use them in making art. I knew about the basic ones like complementary colours and the such, but still did not really understand about terms like hue, tint and chroma. My classmates’ presentations helped a lot in making me understand these terms. 

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Obtained from http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-theory-intro.htm

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Some slides from my friends’ presentations that helped me

I also found out that my perception of colour and its meanings is something that is experienced by me alone, through the influence of the cultural heritage that I was brought up in. I thought that this was really interesting, that love is not always red or pink, and that happiness is not always yellow or orange. I lost the original website where I read about this, but I will include some examples of alternative colour meanings depending on the cultural context here. Oh wait, I found a similar diagram!

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Obtained from http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/colours-in-cultures/

While this is an interesting find, I decided to use my own perception of colour symbolism that I am sure my friends and I could agree on. Check out my final post and process post!

2D Project 3: Ego – Process and Execution

Everything is going by so fast! Nevertheless, this was a challenging but fun project to do. I love colours but they almost killed me this time. Here I will be elaborating on how I got to the final work and also the descriptions behind each of the twelve compositions. For a summary, check out the final work post!

◊ PROCESS ◊

At first, I was excited and started thinking that I would play around with different techniques and craft methods for each of the twelves compositions. I thought of paper cutting, embroidery, crochet, pop up cards, op art, even animation using an optical film (like below).

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a page from “Vento”, by Virgilio Villoresi and Virginia Mori

I was exceptionally ambitious, and super excited. During the first consultation, Joy addressed the white elephant in the room: Will there be enough time? This knocked me out of my daydream and I had to be honest with myself, of course there wasn’t enough time to explore so many methods. Also, how was I going to make sure everything is coherent? I decided to cut down to two techniques I was already comfortable with: embroidery and paper cutting.  At this point of time, I haven’t thought of how I wanted to use colours, but I did research on colour theories and the such. Check this out on my colour theory research post!

Along the week, I started to develop my concept. I decided to use the idea of the equations illustrating my growth in Singapore, with each row representing a school I’ve been in. I also searched for artist inspirations and thought of how the compositions would look as a whole. The week passed by and it dawned upon me that at the rate I was going, I wasn’t going to make it. I forced myself to calm down and take a step back. I settled on ditching the embroidery and paper cut, and going back to watercolour/acrylic illustration: the medium I grew up with. I also chose to do my casual illustration style instead of my normal one. Not only is this style more known by my classmates, but it also helps to save time. (heheh) I sketched out the compositions, but was stuck at choosing the colours. Paintings can’t be undone like Photoshop, so I decided to consult my friends and Joy about it before starting on the colours.

Meanwhile, I searched around for inspiration on how the compositions would look like alone and together. These are some that I came across.

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^Tytus Brzozowski’s dreamlike architectural watercolours

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^Nicole Gustafson’s ethereal suspended worlds

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^Marco Mazzoni’s meticulous pencil colour drawings

I knew I wanted to include a double exposure element in my work, for the last column especially. This is inspired by the beautiful tattoos done by Andrey Lukovnikov.

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I still wanted to showcase my style and wanted everything to look like a whole. In the end, the main inspiration that gave my work its look is the publicity materials for We The Fest Indonesia.

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I love the usage of circles in their collaterals! It is something very simple, clean, yet visually arresting and recognisable. I decided that I can base my compositions on a circle framing, and play around with it according to the different columns and different situations. In the end, the first column that represents me uses a simple circle frame, the second column, which represents the setting, includes the circles as “portals” to the world of the school, and the last column is a double exposure portrait bordered with a circle frame.

(Me at the start of the school duration) + (School experience) = (Me at the end of the school duration) 

After much deliberation, I was finally able to choose colour schemes for each row, keeping in mind to make use of appropriate colour theories that would communicate the mood for each situation. I also switched over to gouache, because I didn’t want the plasticky finish acrylic has, and wanted more opacity than watercolour. Since gouache is new to me, it took me a couple of tries to get used to it. After settling the colours, I went straight to production!

 

◊ EXECUTION ◊

Once I got the gouache, I did some swatches and made changes to the sketches I have previously completed. I outlined the sketches in a thin pen, painted them in, and added the black outline last. All the while I mixed paint around in order to get the right colours. In choosing the colours, I made use of the existing colours of the uniforms and chose the rest of the colours according to them.

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◊ FINAL BREAKDOWN ◊

ONE ◊ CAREFREE ME + CAGED WORLD = NAIVE ME

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This equation is about my life in Jakarta. For my whole life before I came to Singapore, I grew up in Pelangi Kasih School, all the way from kindergarten to Sec 3.

School was relatively easy and the system not so rigid, so I lived a carefree life while still being able to maintain good grades and getting involved in many projects and competitions in school. I was young, only a seedling. I used peach-pink as the dominant colour for the first piece as it symbolises innocence.

As a result of my parents, school, surroundings, and how I was generally brought up, I lived a sheltered life. There was a straight path drawn for me and blindfolded, I happily walk straight, not knowing that I was in a cage, protected from the world. This I illustrated with blue, to show the calmness of the life I lived. By doing this, the straight path, which is in yellow, is highlighted due to contrast.  

The result of this is still, a naive me. Still oblivious and very carefree, I live my life happily and without thinking of the future. The dominant colour yellow illustrates this very light, happy feeling that corresponds to my state at the point of time.  

Overall, I chose to use the primary, triadic colours as to illustrate the basic building blocks that I started with. I was young and life was simple. However, I chose to use a much lighter tint, and used pastels of the three colours as I feel it would fit the idea of youth and innocence better.

 

TWO ◊ EAGER TO PLEASE + SCHOOL AND FRIENDS = SAD ME

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The second equation is about my first two years in Singapore spent in Anderson Secondary School. While I learnt a lot and made lifelong friends, it was not a very pleasant journey at the start.

When I first came to Singapore, I was extremely eager to please. I was determined to be the perfect student and naively thought that it would be an easy journey. I grew from my experience in Jakarta, but I was a mere bud. My optimism and energy is shown through the use of a dominant bright orange, with blues from my uniform as an accompaniment.

Little did I know, school work was really tough. I was doing the worst I had ever done my whole life. Plus, my initial impression of my classmates was not very good, as the culture of welcoming new students was very different compared to what I was used to back in Jakarta. I closed up and did not want to face these problems head on, hence in the composition I am depicted as looking away from the setting (towards the viewers instead), unlike the rest of the compositions in the middle column. I used blues and a dull lavender to show the dark state that I was in, making use of the bright orange as accents in the glowing eyes.

As a result, I was a very unhappy girl. No matter how hard I tried to make friends, I knew that it was not a genuine effort. It made me feel very discontented, and I used a lavender with low chroma, almost grey, to highlight this dullness, along with the dark blue and the teardrop pattern at the back.

Overall, I chose to employ a split complementary colour scheme for this equation (orange, blue and purple) so that I will be able to show how my initial positivity (orange) was quickly drowned out , replaced with the analogous colours of blue and purple. 

THREE ◊ COME AT ME + ROLLER COASTER = STRONG ME

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The third equation is about my years in Temasek Junior College.

I thought that going to JC, it would be easier for me to start anew as everyone is new to the school. I wanted to enjoy my days and do better, and was determined to do so. This want to start anew, I hope, is able to be communicated through my use of bright green. I took on a fresh perspective and got rid of my old ways of thinking, I became a young flower.

Of course, JC was a tough journey. Academically, everything became even more difficult and I struggled to keep up. I took Art for A Levels and it took up a lot of my time, and by the end of JC1 I lost my scholarship. JC years were some of the worst years of my life. However, they were also some of the best years of my life. I loved Art and I was close to my classmates and Art friends. I had fun in House Committee and in orientation, and generally had a much better time compared to secondary school. JC was really a roller coaster filled with ups and downs. These challenges and journey is illustrated with red, as the colour can symbolise both danger (negative) and excitement (positive).

At the end of the two years, I find myself much stronger, more resilient, than ever before.  The dominant red (more of a coral to fit the lighter tones) represents my strength and the complementary green also shows my contentedness. Overall, the colours I chose for this equation sets the mood for each composition, with coral and lime (tints of red and green) as the main colours, and blue to complement the two.

FOUR ◊ READY ME + GRADUATION IS A LONG WAY = ?

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The last equation is about me in NTU. I am the most mature I have ever been (OK I’m still childish). I am transitioning into an adult and whether I like it or not, I will need to be responsible for my own future. I feel like I have become much calmer when facing challenges, so I tried to use minimalistic colours to create this equation.

I am still determined and eager to do my best in university, so I used three values of orange to illustrate this energy. Calm and filled with determination, I start my ADM journey.

The goal right now is to graduate, and it is still very far away. I illustrated this by creating a long walkway that ends with a mortarboard on a pedestal. I created an illusion of depth to show that it is far away, and my pose shows how I am ready to take on this challenge.

The last column is a reflection of how I am by the end of the years I spent in the particular institution, and since this is still in the future, it is a huge question mark, with black to show this void. However, I am positive of the outcome and hence use orange as the background to show this.

Overall, I used just slightly differing shades of orange, and black and white for contrast. The simple colour scheme is supposed to show a calmer, more mature side of me.

 

◊ REFLECTION ◊

I am glad that I was able to showcase my characteristic style in this project, and was able to make use of the circle framing well to make all the compositions look cohesive. I still need to improve in terms of time management, and there are also a couple of other things that I thought I could have done better on. I feel like I could have coordinated the colours across the rows better, and practiced more with the medium to achieve better saturated colours and a smoother brushwork.

All in all, I had fun in this semester and though I was literally dying through all the projects, I enjoyed myself and learnt quite a bit, not only in terms of skills and techniques, but also my way of thinking and developing my art processes. I want to thank my classmates for their inspiring works, and Joy for being a super nice and encouraging teacher. This class will be missed!

For a summary of everything, check out my final work post!

2D Project 3: Ego – Bloom

Our final 2D project for this semester is finally over. I cannot believe how fast it feels! This project was a fun one! (well everything else was fun too) This is our first project in colour, and I was excited because I like colourful things! This caused a little bit of problem because I couldn’t just choose colours because I like them, but with research and careful thinking, I made it work out in the end. Without further ado, here is the final work! For more in-depth explanation behind each composition, check out the process post! And to read up more about my research on colours, check out this post!

◊ BLOOM ◊

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◊ CONCEPT ◊ 

The twelve compositions illustrate my growth as a person. The equations all have the format of

(Me at the start of the school duration) + (School experience) = (Me at the end of the school duration)

Up till now, I have identified myself by the academic institution I am in at any point of time, hence I decided to base each equation on that. The first row is about when I was back in Jakarta. I was naive and carefree, just a seedling. I was kept in a sheltered, reserved world by parents, school and friends, and as a result I was still naive and extremely carefree. When I got to Singapore in Sec 3, I was so keen to continue doing well in school and was extremely eager to please. I was still a bud. However, the school workload was much more intense than I anticipated and coupled with my general apathy towards my Singaporean classmates at the time, I was quite sad and discontented with myself. After going through such experience, I grew into a young flower and was exceptionally determined to turn over a new leaf in junior college. I was ready to face my challenges head on. Needless to say, JC wasn’t always smooth sailing. I have to say, they were some of the best and worst years of my life, it was just like a roller coaster. As a result, by the end of the two years, I feel like I have grown in strength and resilience and matured as a person too. This leads me to enter university with a much calmer attitude and resolve to face whatever comes up with a positive outlook. With graduation still far ahead, I have no idea how this experience will change me, but I’m positive about what is yet to come.

 

STYLE ◊ INSPIRATION

I chose to do the illustration in my casual style instead of my normal style, as this is the style more of my classmates know (and it saves time). I’ve had this style since way back, and it is characteristically me, so I thought that it was apt to make the series coherent and stylistically strong. The main inspirations for this work are the double exposure tattoos by Andrey Lukovnikov and posters of We The Fest Indonesia. 

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Andrey Lukovnikov
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We The Fest collateral

I liked the use of circles in the posters and collaterals of the festival, and thought that I could use it as a frame for my compositions. I felt that the circle framing serve as a distinctive style that wraps the compositions together, and employed different styles to distinguish between the columns.

 

◊ PRESENTATION ◊

I did not include any supplementary materials this time, as there was no need to. I simply put them up on the wall in the default layout and without the plus and equal symbols. Presentation generally went well except that I still forgot to mention some things due to nerves and the time limit, although I did write down the points that I wanted to say. However, I am glad that I got to go back to the basics and stop thinking too much for once. I feel that I have expressed myself and my journey in a simple way that others can understand, and I feel that I have also done this project in a style that is characteristically me, which I’m happy about.

I still have a long way to go in terms of work ethics and time management, but I’m glad that I’ve learnt quite a bit this semester. Looking forward to dying more in the future!

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2D Project 2: Forrest Gump Research and Execution

Okay, so I decided to include another process post because I felt like I wanted to elaborate more on the in-depth research that went behind each of the compositions. Following my initial ideas of using different cultures to illustrate the four quotes from “Leon: The Professional”, I went ahead and researched about different assassination cultures from around the world. Some possibilities that came up were Italian mafias, Russian hitmen and Indian Visha Kanyas (poison girls), among others. However, I will only be including research behind the final four compositions.

For a start, here are the final four quotes.

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  1. Leon: I work alone, understand? (Couldn’t find the right still for this)
  2. Mathilda: If I win, you keep me with you for life.
  3. Leon: This is from Mathilda.
  4. Mathilda: I think we’ll be okay here, Leon.

 

◊ FILM ◊

!!!MAJOR SPOILER OF THE WHOLE MOVIE ALERT!!!

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I chose the four quotes as they describe Leon and Mathilda’s relationship throughout the movie.

Leon saves Mathilda from the corrupt drug enforcement officers who killed her family, even when he had no reason to. She wants to hire Leon to kill them, but Leon declines. Instead, she asks for him to take her up as an apprentice and teach her to be a ‘cleaner’ too. Leon refuses, stating “I work alone, understand?“, and tries to send her off.

Mathilda tells him that it is just the same as letting her die in the hands of the corrupt officers. She takes a revolver from the table and initiates a game of Russian roulette, pointing the gun towards herself. She says, “If I win, you keep me with you for life.” She says that she hopes he really has no feelings and that he won’t regret this, while Leon tells Mathilda that the chamber is loaded and she will die. Mathilda is adamant and pulls the trigger just as Leon slapped the revolver away, the bullet very nearly killing Mathilda.

Mathilda undergoes training and develops a bond with Leon, influencing Leon in a way such that he became much more human, as once again he slowly let emotions into his life. Mathilda is trained into Leon’s way of living and routines. The story spins into a heightened conflict and both their lives are in serious danger. Leon and Mathilda profess their affection for each other as Leon forces Mathilda to safety. Leon barely makes his way out when Stansfield, the antagonist, shoots Leon from the back. In a slow and melancholic scene, Leon confirms Stansfield’s identity and hands him the pins of a grenade, saying “This is from Mathilda,” which were his last words. Stansfield discovers active grenades strapped to Leon’s vest, right after which the scene explodes, taking both of their lives.

Saddened by her loss, she finds out that Leon bequeathed his wealth of previous earnings to her. Mathilda finally finds protection under her previous school and goes out to plant Leon’s houseplant in the gardens. She previously told Leon about how he should plant it in a park so it could have roots. The plant here symbolises Leon. She says, “I think we’ll be okay here, Leon.

With this storyline as an anchor to the project, I took a closer look at each quote.

 

◊ BREAKDOWN OF FOUR COMPOSITIONS ◊

These would be quite similar to what I had in the final post, but I will be including some pictures too. Meanwhile for the compositions, since I planned them really carefully, there were not a lot of changes except for subtle manipulation of contrast, levels and threshold. Unfortunately I did not really save the compositions from one change to another as I was editing them continuously.

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“I WORK ALONE, UNDERSTAND?” ◊ INDIA

I started with researching about assassins in the Indian context. I found the Visha Kanya to be interesting – they are poison girls who slowly poison themselves to the point of being immune to all sorts of poisons, and become poisonous themselves. (Phew so many poison in one sentence) Basically, small doses of poison are administered to girls since young, and the girls build resistance to it. Eventually their blood becomes poisonous and they become weapons. They are sent to kill off targets through seduction and then administering a kiss of death. 

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Depiction of Visha Kanya holding a scorpion in her left hand

However, I had already reserved the Mathilda pieces for the Japanese and Balinese cultures, and could not include the Visha Kanya in this composition.

Another type of Indian assassin are the thuggee, a band of organised professional robbers and murderers who work in gangs, who mingle with their victims in their travels and strangle them with a noose or handkerchief to their deaths. This does not really fit Leon as he is a solo act, but I figured out that I could use this character of the thuggee to further emphasise Leon’s individuality.

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While researching on Indian mythology and folklore, I came across an image of a Hindu god with many hands. I immediately thought that I could use it to describe Leon’s ability to do many things by himself and him not needing anyone else. I researched further and found that most of the gods and goddesses have many different portrayals, with having multiple hands being one of them. I originally wanted to see if there was a god of destruction or death to represent Leon’s job as an assassin, but they are typically not shown with many arms. Indian deities 

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From left to right: Shiva, another depiction of Shiva, Kali with many arms

Durga, the mother goddess who emanates positive energy and wields many weapons in her many hands, is a god who is typically shown with many hands. I thought about it and decided that I could use this to symbolise Leon’s hidden kind nature and goodness, while at the same time wielding many weapons as an indication of his proficiency as a hitman.

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Durga

After settling this, I went on to find out more about Indian art. I stumbled across Mughal art, a type of painting which originates from South Asia, and is typically in the form of book illustrations or as a single work. They are usually colourful and two-dimensional, with the people portrayed in the side profile, most of the time. They are flat and try to create a sense of perspective and depth through the size of elements. In the portraits, different kinds of frames are used. After looking through this list of Mughal paintings, I felt inspired by one of the paintings I saw. 

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This Akbar Mughal painting gave me the idea of subjects interacting or having a connection whilst being separated by the framing. I immediately thought of how I could put Leon (as Durga/thuggee) in one frame, and other thuggees in the other frame to show Leon’s separation from the world and other individuals, and refusal to work with others. I thought of deliberately cutting off one of the frames to suggest continuity and the presence of other frames with other thuggees. The faces of other thuggees in other frames are crossed out to show how Leon doesn’t need them.

This left an empty space above and below, so I researched on Indian motifs and was led to henna, a practice of temporary tattooing, which I’m familiar with as there is also a culture of henna in Singapore. There were many motifs and designs that each bear a meaning.

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Left to right: Crescent design meaning a baby is on the way, lotus design symbolising the awakening of one’s soul, sun design representing immortality, knowledge and eternal love.

I decided to use the mandala, a typical but powerful motif that represents the universe. I repeated the design around the border, indicating how this is the universe that he lives in, the world Leon had created for himself, in which he is alone. This is the final result.

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At first, the frame wasn’t black in colour, but since the Mexican (third) composition is really dark and stands out among the four, I decided to darken the frame to balance out the darkness of the third composition, and distribute the focus evenly over the four compositions when placed next to each other.  

“IF I WIN, YOU KEEP ME WITH YOU FOR LIFE” ◊ JAPAN  

I assigned Japan to this quote because I knew about the Japanese act of suicide called harakiri/seppuku. Naturally, this is the first that I read up on. From my readings, I found out that this act is actually a ritual conducted in front of an audience, if planned.  It was elaborate, slow, and as melancholic as it is intense. Usually, a tanto (short knife), wakizashi (short sword), or a tachi (long sword) is plunged into the abdomen and drawn from left to right. Immediately after that, a “kaishakunin”, or the “second”, decapitates the samurai. I chose the katana (a tachi) to be used by Mathilda in the composition as I felt it was most dramatic. Seppuku is usually done to die in honour rather than in the hands of the enemy, or as a capital punishment for samurais who committed serious offences. When in war or other unplanned circumstances, one can also carry out seppuku to save oneself from further torture.

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Usually, a death poem is written as part of the ritual, as preparation for the act itself. I find that is is such a beautiful way to leave a part of yourself to the world after our death. I wanted Mathilda to have her own death poem. Hence I researched on death poems and found the hototogisu poems to be enchanting. The cuckoo is a bird recognised for its beautiful voice, but at the same time, it is also considered a messenger of death. “Hototogisu”, or “The cuckoo cries” is such a poetic way of indicating one’s moment of death. Thus, I simply used Google translate (what else) to translate a short English phrase into Japanese. 

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I wrote this phrase, with the “hototogisu” at the end, in the old Japanese style, and in Japanese calligraphy, on a yellowed piece of paper from my notebook.

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From right to left: Nani mo no tame ni, ikiru tame ni, nokotte imasen, hototogisu.
Translation: Nothing left to live for, the cuckoo cries.

Next, I did a short research on ukiyo-e, a Japanese characteristic style of woodblock printing and painting. Ukiyo-e itself means “pictures of the floating world”, and often depict scenes from everyday life, beauties, sumo wrestlers, and other scenes. They also include harakiri and Japanese mythology, or can also be in the form of shunga, which is Japanese erotic art.

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They are very in-the-moment and captures a vitality in movement of the subjects, making it almost voyeuristic. From the characteristics of ukiyo-e, I decided to employ asymmetry, perspective, and the use of key motifs and patterns in my second composition. For more explanation and examples of ukiyo-e, check out these websites. 1) What is ukiyo-e? 2) Ukiyo-e website 3) Ukiyo-e gallery

Other than that, I also researched on the patterns and motifs characteristic of Japan, searching for ones that would fit my intentions. This website gives a nice summary of some Japanese patterns. I chose to use the “nami” and the “yagasuri” motifs in my composition.

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Nami is a pattern of waves. It represents strength, and in the “Leon: The Professional” context, it represents Mathilda’s courage and strength in her decision.

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Yagasuri is a pattern of arrowheads. It represents determination, and in this film’s context, it represents Mathilda’s resolve to kill herself if Leon does not take her as his protégé.

I chose to portray Mathilda as a maiko, an apprentice geisha. Ignoring what a geisha does, I solely took the apprentice quality of a maiko that is similar to Mathilda’s status of Leon’s apprentice in the movie. Also, the traditional garb worn by maikos would give the composition a strong Japanese visual.

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Other than that, I included shinigamis at the background. A shinigami, or the “Izanami-no-mikoto”, meaning “she who invites”, is a god or goddess who can cause death by luring the person to kill himself or herself, basically coaxing the person to committing suicide. I thought that this was apt to accompany Mathilda’s suicide attempt and also to symbolise the other world.

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As for composition, I made sure that all the elements were slightly off-centre to highlight the asymmetry, like used in ukiyo-e, and also gave the illusion of perspective and depth by dividing the composition into foreground (maiko), middle ground (screen-dividers) and background (shinigami). I made use of the screen-dividers, as a typical imagery used in ukiyo-e, to metaphorically separate the living world from the other world.

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Meanwhile, the yagasuri pattern on the floor, replacing the usual tatami mats, is warped to enhance perspective and this is done deliberately such that the arrowheads are pointing towards the shinigami, showing further Mathilda’s determination in stepping towards the other realm. Mathilda is also placed in front of the opening towards the other world, indicating the shinigamis welcome and lure to bring her over to the other side.

“THIS IS FROM MATHILDA” ◊ MEXICO

I originally only thought of Mexico in terms of their drug lords and hitmen culture, more commonly known as sicarios. I knew about it from the 2015 mystery/crime movie “Sicario”, which was about an escalating drug war in the borders between the U.S. and Mexico.

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Emily Blunt in “Sicario”

However, the sicarios’ main weapons are usually firearms and the such, which is similar to those used in “Leon: The Professional”. This made me hesitant to follow through my plans of portraying Leon as a sicario.

To my delight, while researching about Mexican art, I was reminded of sugar skulls! As someone who loves colour, sugar skulls and Dia de los Muertos have always had a special place in my heart.

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Love it!!!

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Sugar skulls, or known also as calavera, is an iconic element of Dia de los Muertos, which is the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. In this festival, Mexicans celebrate and honour the lives of the deceased, and spend a day with them, as they believe that during a particular day, the spirits make their way back to enjoy a day with their loved ones who are still alive. Happy with this, I continued to develop ideas on how to make the composition and what icons or symbols to use from Mexican culture and art.

Mexican art is usually vibrant and colourful, thriving and decorative. They proudly showcase the culture of Mexico. There was a strong presence of murals and also folk art and crafts. I chose to look closer at the folk art and crafts, which are decorative and used in their festivals, particularly Dia de los Muertos. 

Another characteristic icon of Dia de los Muertos are marigolds, particularly the cempasúchil. In Mexico, they are called flor de muerto, which means “flower of the dead”. The cempasúchil can be seen covering the streets, as they are believed to attract the souls. I personally find the marigold to be a beautiful flower.

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Look at this beautiful altar covered in marigolds!

I decided to use the marigold in the background, as the petals create an interesting pattern. They can also be seen as a sort of explosion, like fireworks, which alludes to Leon’s death by explosion, which is sad yet beautiful at the same time, because he sacrificed himself for someone whom, for the first time in his life since many years, has made him love again.

Also in my research, I found out about Santa Muerte, the personification of death. She is a female folk saint, depicted as a skeletal figure clad in a long robe and is typically holding a scythe and a globe. When I read the word scythe, I immediately thought of how I could use that to replace the bones in the typical skull and bones arrangement.

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The typical skull and bones arrangement that I thought of was like of the left image. However, I got an idea and decided to arrange it more like the right image, with the blades of the two scythes against the neck of the calavera (which represents Leon). This signifies the taking away of his life by decapitation carried out by Santa Muerte, and also very subtly alludes to mutilation, which is also a common sicario way of brutal execution. 

The tilted position of the calavera in the final composition is inspired by the scene from the original movie. 

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After looking at it again, I found that the tilted and off-centre position is much better than having it just frontal and straight, because it made the composition more dynamic and somehow more dramatic. Since the composition has to be in black and white, to showcase colour, I made sure that values were well represented through dark and light. I also finally chose to invert the colours because it made it look much more vibrant, almost as if the lines are glowing like neon lights.

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“I THINK WE’LL BE OKAY HERE, LEON.” ◊ BALI

We have finally come to the last composition, one that is closest to home for me. When I was young, my mom put me in a traditional Balinese dance class, which I was in a couple of years, and ever since then, I have always had a special connection with Balinese dance and culture. I love the costume, the colours, the music. The dance, of course, but the aesthetics was what really intrigued me.

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There were some things that I knew I wanted to include. I knew I wanted to portray Mathilda as a young Balinese dancer. Since costumes differ from dance to dance, I decided that the tari pendet, or pendet dance, is a suitable one. This was the first dance I learned, like any other Balinese dance newcomer. It was the first I had to conquer, a dance that marks the start of our journey in traditional Balinese dance.

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The dance itself is a welcome dance, a greeting. It is a dance to welcome the audience, invite the spirits to a performance, welcome the gods to the temple. In Mathilda’s case, I saw it more of a welcome of a new life. Like how the pendet was how I was welcomed to the world of Balinese dance, I wanted to use the pendet dance to symbolise Mathilda’s transitioning into a new life after the death of her loved ones. I think that the headpiece characterises the dance well enough, so I looked for a bust of a girl in the pendet costume.

                   bali-girl      clarita_saslim_leon_the_professional_4

Then I adjusted the levels and threshold to not make it look so realistic.

In the film, Leon’s plant was also an icon. It eventually serves to represent Leon himself. In the film, the plant was a Chinese evergreen. I knew that for a replacement, I wanted to use the kamboja, also known as the frangipani.

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It is a beautiful, fragrant flower that is characteristic of Bali. An interesting thing is that while it is considered holy in Bali, it is actually a symbol of bad luck in Java because it is a funeral flower. This, I thought, was interesting as I was using the plant to symbolise Leon, and the act of burying the plant is like giving Leon a funeral.

Other than that, I knew I wanted to use the poleng, which is a checkered fabric widely used in Bali as a symbol of protection. I read up more on it and found out there are three kinds of poleng, which are the rwabhineda (only black and white), the sudhamala (black, white and grey), and the tridatu (black, white, grey and red). The poleng basically represents the positive and the negative in life, yin and yang, good and bad. It reminds us of the balance of the two and thus serves as a symbol of protection and reminder to the people of Bali. I decided to put the poleng as the background so that Mathilda is enveloped by protection, in addition to the looming Barong figure, which I will explain in a bit.

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Sudhamala, which I used for my composition.

Other than the few elements that I already knew I wanted to include, I researched more on Hindu folktales and mythology of the Bali region. They do not really have any significant assassins of the region, so I looked into two popular icons: the Barong and the Rangda. Barong and Rangda are enemies. Barong is the lion-like king of spirits, leader of the hosts of good, while Rangda is the evil demon queen. In the Barong dance, they fight in an eternal battle between good and evil, even though Barong always comes out victorious in the end, restoring celestial order. 

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Barong on the right and Rangda on the left.

The Barong is also a symbol of protection, and I wanted to illustrate the film’s message to the audience that Mathilda is finally safe and settled, so it felt apt to include the Barong, which is significant to the Balinese, as Balinese Mathilda’s protector, in a sense.

With regards to Balinese art, I found many interesting paintings, and wayang kulits (hand puppets) or wooden sculptures, but I felt that what was most interesting to me was the patterns, like those seen in Balinese wooden furniture, which are always meticulously hand-carved. These patterns are also often seen in the architecture of Bali, decorating the interiors.

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LOVE IT!!!

Similar to this, another type of fabric, the perada, also makes use of similar patterns. The perada is a fabric used by rich Balinese. The patterns are usually painted in real gold over a bright-coloured or expensive, luxurious fabric.

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I decided to include this pattern as a border to mimic the use of a patterned border in many traditional Balinese furnitures. Thus, this completes my fourth and final composition!

This is also the design I chose to print on my tote bag. I adjusted the levels and threshold, such that the colours all became block colours with no gradient, so that it would come out nicely in the screenprinting. I kept in mind that this design would be on a tote bag, and imagined how I would want the tote bag to be. Due to this, I decided to remove the perada border as I wanted the top and bottom parts of the Barong and the girl to sort of protrude out of the poleng background. After many tries, this is the final result, which I am satisfied with because I managed to make all the designs come out nicely!

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That’s all! Thanks for making it through my long long explanation 🙂

(At this point I’m super tired because I had to type half of this twice because it was lost sigh but I made it anyways yay)

2D Project 2: Forrest Gump – Initial thoughts

When I first came about this project, I was pretty excited because I love watching films. I really didn’t know which movie to get my quotes from, there were so many to choose from! I also hadn’t decided whether I wanted to get quotes from different movies, make four compositions out of one quote, or any other combination.

One day, while listing out movies that I liked and movies that I wanted to see, I randomly decided to go and watch “Leon: The Professional”. I fell in love with it. Especially the scene where Leon was dying. Not that I liked that he died, but it was partly because I could recognise what Leon was going to say from a song by Alt-j!!!!!!!!!!! I might be rambling incoherently and I apologise if you don’t understand but I was so excited asddfghjkl. When he started to say “This… is from…” I was like OMG MATHILDA! MATHILDA! THIS IS FROM MATHILDA! IT’S WHERE ALT-J GOT THE INSPIRATION FOR THE SONG FROM I NEVER KNEW IT HAD OTHER MEANINGS I NEVER UNDERSTOOD IT BUT NOW I KNOW NOW I LOVE THIS MOVIE EVEN MORE!!!

Okay, for both our sakes I’ve decided to calm down.

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So, Alt-j is this band I like that makes weird music. Most of their songs are very metaphorical and experimental, and “Matilda” is one of their songs. In the song, “this is from Mathilda” is repeated multiple times and makes up almost the entirety of the song.

That’s why I lost it when I saw the scene in the film and could make an instant connection. I decided that at least I would use “This is from Mathilda” as one of my four quotes.

While watching the film, I could easily point out the many items that are icons of the film. I collated images of them to be used for my compositions. At this point of time, I was planning on using these icons in a different way, but did not know how yet.

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After a consultation with Joy expressing my worries and lack of understanding of the project brief, I finally had a clearer direction for the project. It depended on how I wanted to present my ideas and views about the quotes, it isn’t that I had to completely take the quote out of context, it is about how I choose to interpret the quote, how I can give the quote a different meaning and how I can express the quote from my point of view. Joy suggested for me to look at the little details usually missed by the audience or alternative endings, which I kept in mind.

Suddenly, I thought of how I could look at the film from different cultures. I first had Indonesia in mind, and thought of how I could look at assassins from other cultures around the world, like the Mexican sicario (from the movie Sicario) and Japanese ninjas.

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From here, I developed my idea into two forms of execution. The first one is to describe the relationship between Leon and Mathilda through a series of quotes from key parts of the movie, interjecting quotes from Leon and Mathilda. I didn’t know how the “look” would be yet, because I didn’t know whether this was still too literal or not. The second one is to take one quote and interpret it in four different cultural styles. I explained the ideas to Joy, who told me that I could actually merge the two ideas! I could keep the storyline and instead, interpret each of the four compositions in different cultural styles!

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I finalised the four quotes and moved on to researching and constructing the compositions. This I will elaborate more on my research and process post!

2D Project 2: Forrest Gump – I Think I’m Kind of Falling in Love with You

I find it a little hard to believe that the project we just finished was only the second one. It felt as if we have been doing this forever. Albeit it being a challenging project, I had lots of fun, and am happy that I finally got to try my hands on silkscreening.

On this post, I will be giving a summary of my four compositions and an explanation of the overall concept. Enjoy!

 

◊ OVERALL CONCEPT ◊

The main concept for this project is the relationship between Leon and Mathilda from the 1994 Luc Besson film “Leon: The Professional”, one that I really enjoyed watching. I’m about to spoil the whole film here so if you don’t want it ruined for you, go and watch it first HAHA.

 

Okay so you’re here either after watching it or you don’t mind spoilers.

 

Here’s your last chance to watch the movie first if you haven’t.

 

In the film, Mathilda’s family is killed by a crazy corrupt DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) officer and she seeks refuge from her neighbour, Leon, who is a hitman. Mathilda, who is only 12 years old at the time, asks Leon to take her as his protégé so that she could take revenge on, in her own words, “the dirtbags who killed her brother”. Long story short, Leon refuses at first, eventually accepts her and the two develops an unlikely bond throughout the rest of the film, each taking a place in the other’s heart that never existed before. I finally selected four quotes from the movie that are key points in the film and describes what happened to Leon and Mathilda, and their relationship in the film.

While initially I wanted to use the many iconic objects from the film to make my compositions, I realised that doing so would make my renditions too literal, which is exactly what the project is NOT about. It was really confusing because after watching the movie, one would definitely have preconceived images directly related to the film.  After enlightening consultations with Joy, I finally understood that there are many ways in which to tackle the project brief. I decided to take a look at the relationship between Leon and Mathilda from the point of views of different assassination cultures from around the world. I used icons and symbols from the different cultures, and also, by Joy’s suggestion, explored the compositions based on the art practices of the area, which I really want to thank her for. (Thanks Joy!!)

Without further ado, here are the final four compositions!

 

NUMBER ONE ◊ INDIA

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The quote here describes Leon’s inherent cold-heartedness towards Mathilda, after spending a lifetime of putting aside emotions as part of his job. This was him rejecting Mathilda’s request of taking her as an apprentice.

I chose India for this piece. I took the Indian Hindu goddess Durga, a multi-dimensional goddess of power and strength, mother of the universe, to represent Leon. The many hands wielding different weapons symbolise Leon’s individualistic and independent nature, as he does everything by himself. Instead of choosing Kali or Shiva who are deities of destruction and death, I chose Durga to symbolise Leon’s hidden kind and caring nature, that he is actually good.

I replaced the head with the head of a thuggee/thug, an Indian professional robber/murderer who typically travels in gangs, gains trust of his victims and strangles them to death during the journey. To describe Leon’s defiant nature, and also his personal code of working alone, I included a group of thugs on the left frame with their heads marked out, showing their irrelevance to Leon. Moreover, the placement of the frames, which is cut off-centre, is done to suggest the presence of other frames containing other pictures of thugs outside of the composition. The framing is inspired by Mughal art, paintings that originate from South Asia, and I used one particular painting to create this piece.

I also used the traditional Indian henna design of the mandala, which symbolises the universe, as a border, to indicate how this is the universe that Leon lives in.

 

NUMBER TWO ◊ JAPAN

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This quote is what Mathilda says when she is about to shoot herself in the head in a self-initiated game of Russian roulette. At this point of time, she has nothing to live for anymore if Leon does not take her in.

I chose Japan with the ninjas in mind, but then I remembered about the old Japanese act of voluntary suicide, harakiri/seppuku, and thought that it would be perfect for this scene. The ceremonial disembowelment is usually done with a tanto (short knife), but can also be done with a tachi (long sword). I chose to use a katana (which is a tachi), to heighten the feeling of risk and intensity, making it look more dramatic.

Shinigamis, death gods who lure people to take their own lives, can be seen in the background, giving the piece a slightly eerie feeling of looming death.

I also included two characteristic patterns from Japan, “Nami“, meaning waves, on the screen-dividers, and “Yagasuri“, meaning arrows, on the floor to replace the usual tatami. Nami means strength and represents Mathilda’s courage in her decision. Yagasuri means determination and represents Mathilda’s resolve to kill herself.

Mathilda is represented by the maiko, or apprentice geisha, in an illustration style that is typical of Japanese paintings and ukiyo-e, which I referred to when making this composition. Ukiyo-e, a genre of art that features woodblock prints and paintings, makes use of asymmetry and slight perspective, which I applied in this composition. I divided the piece to foreground (maiko), middle ground (screen-dividers) and background (shinigami), with all of the elements placed slightly off-centre. 

I carefully planned the arrangement such that it is hinted to the viewers how Mathilda is on the verge of death. I made use of the screen-dividers (common image in ukiyo-e) to create a clear division between the living world (where the maiko is) and the underworld (shinigamis). Directly behind her is the opening towards this underworld, and together with the yagasuri pattern deliberately pointing towards the underworld, this illustrates Mathilda’s resolve to head towards death. The yagasuri pattern pointing towards the background also helps to create an illusion of depth and perspective, which is an element of the art of ukiyo-e.

 

NUMBER THREE ◊ MEXICO

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These were Leon’s last words (cries) as he sacrificed himself to save Mathilda. He has gone from an aloof, cold-blooded murderer to a man who is again, capable of feeling love and care for another person.

I chose Mexico for this scene, originally just because I wanted to portray Leon as a Mexican sicario, a hired professional assassin that works for the organised drug cartels in Mexico. However, sicarios also used guns primarily, and I thought that this was too similar to the movie’s Western usage of firearms. When I researched about Mexican art, I am reminded of the famous and beautiful sugar skulls symbolic of the Day of the Dead and realised that I could also use this to recreate Leon’s death scene. Branching from Mexican folk art, this colourful, decorative style is used in the Day of the Dead celebrations, or Dia de los Muertos.

I chose a few symbols from the art style and celebration to use as elements of this piece. The calavera, or sugar skull, represents both Leon and death. The scythes are representative of Santa Muerte, the Mexican female folk saint who is a personification of death. She is believed to deliver people safely to the afterworld, and typically holds a scythe, along with a  globe, or other things. The skull and scythes are arranged in a typical skull and bones arrangement, and further emphasises death, with the blades placed at the nape of Leon’s neck. This also alludes to the act of decapitation, characteristic of the sicarios’ way of finishing off their targets by mutilation. Behind is a blooming pattern of marigolds, specifically the cempasúchil, or the flor de muertos (flower of the dead), which is the main flower used for the Day of the Dead celebrations. They are arranged to create a haunting yet beautiful aura that looks like fireworks, and also to represent the explosion of grenades in the movie.

I also did not put the skull in an upright position to mimic Leon’s position of death in the film, where he lied on the floor. I feel that this also made the composition more dynamic and less boring.

 

NUMBER FOUR ◊ BALI

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The last quote is the scene where Mathilda buries Leon’s plant (also an icon of the movie) in the garden of the school where Mathilda found refuge in, after Leon’s death.

I chose Bali for this scene. I have always had an attachment to Balinese culture, and this was the first culture I researched further on, based on my then knowledge of it. I already knew some of the patterns that I was going to use, such as the poleng (which I will explain soon). Mathilda is represented by the girl in traditional Balinese costume used in the pendet dance, a dance that I am familiar of. The dance is characterised by the headpiece. The pendet dance is a welcome dance, a dance of greeting. Here, I used it to represent Mathilda’s welcoming of her new life, and the transition between her previous life and her life after the death of her family and Leon.

The original Chinese Evergreen plant from the movie is replaced by the kamboja (frangipani), a flower that is considered holy in Bali. I made use of its interesting duality as it also represents death and bad luck in the Javanese context.

Behind her is the Barong, a lion-like king of spirits, leader of hosts of good, of the Balinese Hindu mythology. The Barong is a symbol of protection, looming over Mathilda, that hints at Mathilda being safe from then on, after Leon’s sacrifice. Moreover, I used a sheet of poleng fabric at the background to emphasise protection, as the black, white and grey plaid is a pattern used for protection typically seen in Bali.

To complete the composition, I added a border of perada, a fabric used by the rich, inspired by its similar pattern seen in the carvings of typical Balinese furniture.

 

◊ SILKSCREEN ◊

Silkscreen was fun to do. Although I faced some difficulties in the second silk-screening session, when I had to get it printed on the tote bag, I am quite happy with the final result.

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(I will upload a better picture when I get to iron it out)

 

◊ PRESENTATION ◊

This is how I presented my final work.

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I decided to include a supplementary element in the presentation. Under the Japanese composition, I pasted a death poem, in Japanese, that I imagined Mathilda to have written before proceeding to kill herself. Writing a death poem is part of the ritual of harakiri/seppuku, and I felt that it was such a melancholic and beautiful way to leave with your last words in a string of poetry.

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From right to left: Nani mo no tame ni, ikiru tame ni, nokotte imasen, hototogisu.
Translation: Nothing left to live for, the cuckoo cries.
The poem describes how at the point of time, Mathilda has lost everything and is ready to die. “Hototogisu”, or the cuckoo bird, is a bird recognised for its beautiful voice, but is also considered a messenger of death. It is a phrase usually used to poetically signify death.

These are a few things that I tried to make sure were consistent in the four compositions.

  • Overall balance in the composition, even when I arrange the elements in an asymmetrical way. 
  • Presence of central character.
  • Simplicity and subtlety of hidden messages through the symbols.
  • Very subtle dark, light, dark, light look. This is purely for aesthetics (It felt weird with only the third composition one being very dark), to balance the look of the four compositions together, and to create rhythm as the eye gazes from the left to the right.

Presentation generally went well, and I managed to say most of what I wanted to say in the time limit, but I did forget to mention a few things due to a slight panic when the alarm rang. Hopefully next time my nerves don’t get the better of me.

Overall, I really enjoyed the process, getting to know so many different cultures and really putting a lot of meaning into my work, which I noticed is what I like to do. I also got to keep the essence of the movie and managed to bring forth the feelings I have for the movie, and made this project a meaningful one.

On to the last project of this semester!

Plane, Value, and Texture

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Here are our slides for our Plane, Value and Texture presentation!

Elements of Design.pptxElements of Design.pptx-2 Elements of Design.pptx-3 Elements of Design.pptx-4 Elements of Design.pptx-5 Elements of Design.pptx-6 Elements of Design.pptx-7 Elements of Design.pptx-8 Elements of Design.pptx-9 Elements of Design.pptx-10

The simplest definition of a plane is simply a flat or level surface.

Geometry: A flat, two-dimensional surface generated by a straight line moving at a constant velocity with respect to a fixed point.

  •         Zero Dimensions: Dot
  •         One Dimensional: Line
  •         Two Dimensions: Plane
  •         Three Dimensions: Volume

 

Fine Arts: An area of a two-dimensional surface having determinate extension and spatial direction or position:

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/plane

Planes can arise as subspaces of some higher-dimensional space, as with a room’s walls extended infinitely far, or they may enjoy an independent existence in their own right, as in the setting of Euclidean geometry.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plane_(geometry)

The Picture Plane and The Ground Plane

 

The PICTURE PLANE is the flat two-dimensional surface on which we draw or project an image in perspective. The picture plane can be thought of as being like a plate of glass behind which pictorial devices are used to render the elements of the picture in depth.

The GROUND PLANE is at 90 degrees to the picture plane.

http://www.artyfactory.com/perspective_drawing/perspective_1.html

In three-dimensional art, a plane surface is flat like the faces of a cube or pyramid, but sculptors also use the term for any area of a surface which is distinguishable as a separate part and which faces in more or less one direction, even though it is not completely flat.

Planes of reference are imaginary planes to which the position, direction, and movement of the axes and surfaces of the forms of three-dimensional objects may be related. The three principal planes of reference are the frontal, the horizontal and the profile planes. These planes are mutually perpendicular. They provide a complete spatial frame of reference for the forms of the sculpture.

http://www.arcyart.com/ad-plane.htm

 

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Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color, and can also be called luminosity. The darker the color, the higher its value, as that means it reflects more light. It defines form and creates spatial illusions.

Contrast of value separates objects in space, while gradation of value suggests mass and contour of a contiguous surface. Close values cause a blending effect and contrasting values cause separation.

Hue is the spectrum of colors. Each hue has a value as well. (E.g. shown when color images are converted to black and white images)

When referring to pigments, dark values with black added are called “shades” of the given hue name. Light values with white pigment added are called “tints” of the hue name. A “tone” is produced either by the mixture of a colour with grey, or by both tinting and shading.

 

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– Texture is the perceived surface quality of an artwork. It does not only engage our sense of touch, but our sense of sight too.

– Texture is an element of art that may be used to support or enhance the artist’s intentions. For example, rough > distress, smooth, flowy > calm

-Texture can be divided into a two categories.

> Actual or tactile texture on 3D surfaces

  It is the tactile quality of a surface, how it feels when touched or when in contact with skin. A fundamental element in 3D art. It is related to the choice of materials (wood, marble, steel, plaster, plastic, fabric), process (carving, welding, casting) and the final surface treatment (sanding, painting, polishing, waxing, patination (treating of a surface wth a chemical)).

> Artificial or illusion of texture on 2D surfaces

  Texture also exists on 2D surfaces. It is usually a result of drawing or painting the real texture. It is the illusion of texture. Using values and colour, the impression of texture can be created even if the surface of the base is still flat and smooth.

 

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2D Project 1: My Line is Emo – Execution

So, I decided to add in an execution post. Here I will be elaborating on the creation of each line in my final work. For my main thought processes and elaboration on my theme, you can check the process post and for a short summary of everything, check out my final post!


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This is a summarised table form of my final work layout. Before going into making the final prints themselves, I would do several tryouts on loose sheets of paper. I also tried different backings. For some of the lines, I replicated an existing texture that I have from previous experiments. In these cases I did the patterns first and associated it with a sea creature afterwards. 

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Journal page recording my thought processes as I started on the final strips.


RELIEF ◊  SKY

To represent clouds, I tore cotton pads into thin strips and placed it onto an ink-rolled linoleum tile. Then I placed a backing of choice on top of it and used the roller to transfer the ink onto the backing. I tried a couple of different backings, from normal cartridge paper, to newsprint and tracing paper.

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From left to right, cartridge paper, tracing paper (but clouds not defined enough), final print used.

Eventually I chose the tracing paper as the backing as it gives a slightly translucent effect that I felt fits the quality of soft clouds. I also included a layer of white cartridge paper behind it so that the line will look lighter in shade. To the sky line, I assigned the emotion relief, as I felt that the open sky is very liberating. Every time I go for a dive, when I resurface and take a gasp of breath, I would feel a huge sense of relief. Relief that I am still alive, relief that I could breathe again.

 

BLISS ◊ WAVES

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Bliss is represented by waves, the boundary between sky and sea. I like watching the waves move about, whether it is still or turbulent. There is this hypnotising feel waves give you. I particularly like standing by the shore, gazing at the waves lapping at my feet, which makes me feel as if I the ocean was pulling me in its embrace and letting me go, pulling me in and bringing me back to shore, while in actuality I was just standing there, still. The waves make me feel happy, in a lighthearted way.

To achieve the mark, I cut the outline of the waves on a waste sheet of newsprint and laid it over a sheet of cartridge paper. Then I used a toothbrush, dipped it in Chinese ink, and started flicking the brush all over to create an ocean spray effect. 

 

ELATION ◊ CLOWNFISH

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I made the same type of marks during the first monoprinting session, and thought that it reminded me of Nemo from “Finding Nemo”, so I recreated the mark, but this time using a cotton bud to create the lines. I had to make sure to put enough pressure so that the ink would be removed from the lino.

To me, the verticality of the lines represent the action of going upwards, and this symbolises positivity.  This highlights how we tend to look “upwards” when we are happy, and especially when we are elated, we tend to brighten up and become positive in our disposition! 

 

INFATUATION ◊ JELLYFISH

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This line was one of the more complicated ones in terms of execution. There were several steps to it as I did a collage of several prints. I wanted to recreate the ethereal, flowy quality of jellyfish. I was cleaning ink off the table using wet tissue and found that it created a pretty cool texture on the table surface. Just out of curiosity, I put a sheet of paper over it and pressed. The result was a cool exact water droplet texture replica as shown in the bottom right picture. I thought that it looked like the frills of a jellyfish. I decided I would need a base layer so I tried to drip more diluted ink (top left picture) and then pressed the paper on top of it. The results were as shown in the two other pictures, a cool marbling effect with a softness to it that I felt could represent a jellyfish. I did more of the water droplet texture print on tracing paper, and using a penknife, created frill- like strips out of the print. In the end, the collage consisted of the water marbling print as the base layer, frills from the water droplet prints on cartridge and tracing paper, and also drawn lines using an ink pen.

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The resulting collage felt very whimsical and intense, since there are so many elements to it. I likened this to the feeling of infatuation over someone you love, as it is almost as if there is an overwhelming sensation of emotions. 

 

PASSION ◊ MESOPHOTIC CORAL REEFS

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The creation of this line was a result of a experimentation. I painted Chinese ink lightly over the fibres of a cotton pad, placed it on the paper, and added pressure using the roller. I really loved the resulting print – a mesmerising, organic pattern.  This pattern reminded me of a cluster of coral reefs, and hence I researched to find out whether coral reefs grew in the mesopelagic (twilight) layer of the sea. Turns out they did! They are slightly different, though, from the coral reefs that grow in the epipelagic (sunlight) layer. 

The amalgamation of soft, thin lines and denser areas create a dynamic and organic flow about the strip. It felt as if the corals were swaying a little bit in the currents, a passionate affair. 

 

AFFECTION ◊ TIGER SHARK

I was starting to play around with shampoo and figuring out how to use it in my printmaking. I randomly squeezed shampoo on an ink-rolled linoleum tile.

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The result was a beautiful striped pattern! I absolutely had no high expectations, but shampoo proves to be quite versatile in terms of making marks (elaborated on other lines). Sadly I do not have any pictures of the freshly finished result! I was probably too excited to have taken a picture of it. After the first print on cartridge paper, I laid a sheet of tissue paper over it and made another print, which also gave wonderful results. The print on the tissue paper was what I decided to use for the final work. It smells really good!

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Tiger shark image from graytaxidermy.com

2d proj1 10A section of the tissue paper that is saved and pasted on my visual journal.

The quality of the seemingly blurred out lines and the softness of the tissue paper gives an overall fuzzy quality which I likened to affection.

 

ASTONISHMENT ◊ GIANT TUBE WORMS

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Giant tube worms image from theecology.tumblr.com

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I simplified the giant tube worm into the stem and the head. To mimic its physical features, I used a toilet brush to create swift strokes representing the stems, and pressed the tip of a cotton bud on the linoleum tile repeatedly to create the heads.

I was really quite astonished when I saw pictures of the giant tube worm as I have never seen such a creature before. I tried to express my astonishment through the print by using quick flicks of the wrist to create the rapid lines, and quick dabbing of the cotton bud tips as if each stroke was a shocked gasp (which was my literal reaction when I first saw a picture of the worm). 

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ALARM ◊ ANGLER FISH

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To create the angler fish line, what I did was I rolled a layer of ink directly onto cartridge paper, added two thick lines of white acrylic down the page, and afterwards, I dragged the paint vertically using the comb, creating a thorn-like effect.

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This effect is supposed to mimic the jagged teeth of an angler fish.

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Angler fish image from knowledgebase.lookseek.com

I assigned alarm to this strip because of how the teeth sort of overlap, creating a messy, almost claustrophobic feel due to the tightness of the darker area (background) surrounded by the lighter areas (teeth). I thought that there was a sense of danger that is imbued in the pattern, and I would imagine myself tone quite alarmed if I ever encounter an angler fish in the sea.

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BEWILDERMENT ◊ BRITTLE STAR

File name :DSCN7354.JPG File size :573.7KB(587426Bytes) Shoot date :0000/00/00 00:00:00 Picture size :2048 x 1536 Resolution :72 x 72 dpi Number of bits :8bit/channel Protection attribute :Off Hide Attribute :Off Camera ID :N/A Model name :E995 Quality mode :FINE Metering mode :Spot Exposure mode :Programmed auto Flash :No Focal length :10.8 mm Shutter speed :1/51.3second Aperture :F2.9 Exposure compensation :0 EV Fixed white balance :Preset Lens :Built-in Flash sync mode :N/A Exposure difference :N/A Flexible program :N/A Sensitivity :Auto Sharpening :Auto Curve mode :N/A Color mode :COLOR Tone compensation :AUTO Latitude(GPS) :N/A Longitude(GPS) :N/A Altitude(GPS) :N/A
Brittle star image from palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk

The creation of this line is one the most experimental. I had no clear pattern in mind that I was aiming for, but I just wanted to sort of replicate the body of a brittle star, roughly. I actually created a stencil, which was cut using a nail clipper.

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I used this stencil to create multiple star shapes on a sheet of cartridge paper, by rolling ink on top of the stencil.

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Afterwards, using acrylic, I added feathery extensions to mimic the limbs of the brittle star. I also added some extension using the hair roller.

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The resulting pattern was an all-over composition of stencil pattern and acrylic paint, and I was literally quite bewildered when I looked at the strip. Hence, I thought that ‘bewilderment’ would be most fitting. I also cross checked with friends, and they too felt bewildered when looking at it closely, as there are so many elements to look at. The feel is similar to when you look at Jackson Pollock paintings, which also have all-over compositions.

 

SORROW ◊ EEL

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Eel was quite fun to do. I wanted to see if just adding water would create any interesting effect, and it absolutely did. I first rolled some ink onto the linoleum tile, sprayed water on it, laid a sheet of paper over it and rolled it under the press. Without adding any more ink, I repeated the process several times, and this resulted in a et of very different looking prints of differing values and line quality, which I thought was super cool. This was the method that I used for making the eel strip, as a section of the print reminds me of slithering eel bodies.

There was a sort of melancholy to the pattern that is also reminiscent of teardrops, and I thought that ‘sorrow’ was an apt word to describe the feeling when you look at the strip.

GLOOM ◊ DUMBO OCTOPUS

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This was also one of the more unexpected outcomes. Like the shampoo, I also had no idea what the outcome would be. I randomly dripped some baby oil onto the ink-rolled linoleum and pressed down a sheet of paper on top of it. I was expecting some sort of marbling effect, but what came out was this coarse-ish texture that really reminds me of some kind of animal skin. Plus it smells amazing.

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I already had the dumbo octopus as one of the animals in mind, and thought that it could actually represent the dumbo octopus. The overall grainy and dark look of the print emits a pessimistic aura that feels like a dark, rainy day, and hence I felt that ‘gloom’ was an apt emotion to assign it to.

 

WOE ◊ MANTA RAY

I was inspired by Rorschach to try this method. I randomly dripped block printing ink, Chinese ink, shampoo and a little bit of water to a sheet of cartridge paper, which I then folded into half. I did not have any expectations for it so sadly, I did not document the process where I added all the condiments to the paper. Here is a picture of the result.

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At this point, it was only meh, so I tried a couple more times. Here is another result.

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I love the rorschach pattern created. I was thinking that the shampoo would act as a white paint, but it turned out that it would evaporate when I left them to dry. This gave a completely new look to the first print that I thought was meh.

2016-09-07 035934 1 2016-09-07 035940 1Front and back side.

It immediately reminded me of a manta ray! I decided to use it for the manta ray line. One problem is that I would need one long strip, whereas this was just a short strip of design. I figured that I could cut a strip of the top part that looks like the head, and then dissect the body into different sections and assemble them together next to each other to make a line.

2016-09-07 042339 1Left side shows cut strips, right side shows reassembled strips.

The overall spreading effect and the haunting negative space created by the shampoo lines, along with the dullness of the newsprint backing, feels like a lament of misery, hence I felt that ‘woe’ was a fitting emotion to assign this strip to.

 

TRAUMA ◊ BASKET SEA STAR

In one of my explorations, I tried blowing ink through a straw, and it create this veiny, mesmerising effect that I thought was pretty cool. It really reminded me of a basket sea star.

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Basket sea star image from wikipedia.org

The problem is, the straw is not a bathroom object! I eventually thought of a way to improvise: I could cut the edges of a cotton bud, and voila! A mini straw! I have to admit, it was a tough and long journey to produce one long line of blow painting but it was worth it because the results are really cool!

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There is a sort of vitality and vigour to the lines created that suggests an explosive reaction to something. It also reminds me of overgrown forests in fairy tales where the branches would poke you in all directions and give an overall eerie feeling. I thought that this could really represent the feeling when going through a traumatic experience.

 

ENVY ◊ GILLS

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This line was a result of experimenting with facial foam. Honestly I thought that I would get a similar effect to the shampoo prints, except maybe a little bit less diluted as the foam has a firmer texture. I did not expect for the resulting print to be so visually different! The slightly beady texture and the viscosity of the foam created a beautiful network of veins on the paper. While this is not exactly representative of any sea creature, I thought that it definitely resembles gills.

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The tiny spreading of the veins reminds me also of the circulatory system. I felt like this could represent envy because I visualise envy as a feeling that creeps through your body slowly.

 

FURY ◊ STOPLIGHT LOOSEJAW

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Fury is represented by the stoplight loosejaw, a fish that lives in the Mariana Trenches. Similar to an angler fish, it has sharp teeth, but unlike the angler fish, whose defining feature is its light, the stoplight loosejaw’s defining feature is its wide gaping jaw. Its teeth are also relatively thinner and longer. 

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Stoplight loosejaw image from miteebite.com

To achieve this, I used the toilet brush instead of the comb. As seen in the picture above, the toilet brush makes finer lines compared to the thicker, more defined lines created by the comb (small section on the top line).

I thought that the overall composition looked angry and violent, with the gaping jaw filled with razor sharp teeth, especially. Hence, I linked this pattern with fury.

 

TERROR ◊ PING PONG TREE SPONGE

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Ping pong tree sponge image from nazo108.sblo.jp

The ping pong tree sponge is characterised by its appearance which literally looks like a tree with ping pong balls attached to it. 

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To replicate its physical features, I squeezed a sponge into a ball shape, moistened it, tapped it in block printing ink and dabbed it on the paper. I did this repeatedly with varying concentration of ink. I was mindful of creating an overall dark tone as the ping pong tree sponge is found in the trenches, and I need the print to be dark so that I could achieve the gradual darkening effect. Even though in reality the ping pong tree sponge seems to be light in colour, I chose to capture its physical quality instead in order to comply with my concept.

The spreading effect in each of the circles give a scary feel of something evil lurking in the darkness, or like many pairs of eyes in the darkness. Therefore I thought that this piece speaks terror in its simplest sense.

 

NERVOUSNESS ◊ COLONIAL JELLY/BIOLUMINESCENCE

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Comb jelly image from nationalgeographic.com
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Colonial jelly image from wired.com

One of the key features of animals that live in this layer of the ocean is bioluminescence. Remembering how I created a luminous effect using water in my earlier experiments, I decided to use the technique to try to create a bioluminescent effect, but just a subtle one so that the overall line would still look really dark. 

I did this by rolling a thick, even layer of block printing ink on the linoleum, and spraying water on the tile. Afterwards it was the typical process of laying a sheet of paper over and rolling it under the press. I do not have pictures of the process of making the final ones, but it is the same idea as earlier elaborated under the “Sorrow – Eel” line.

I likened the print to the emotion of nervousness, when your heart beats so fast and you do not know how to act such that it feels as if you are surrounded in darkness. I imagined that if I sank this deep into the ocean, I would feel so agitated and panicked to an extreme level until it becomes sort of a numb, nervous tingling that is visualised by the dim glow of bioluminescence.

 

DISTRESS ◊ OCEAN FLOOR

We have finally reached the ocean floor! Execution for this line was simple. I applied a thick layer of block printing ink on the linoleum, and rolled the hair roller on the mat, picking up traces of the ink. Afterwards, I laid over a sheet of cartridge and applied pressure using a roller. The result was a disturbing pattern of small swivels that feel almost distressing due to its disorderly manner. 

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The original result is of a darker black, the slightly warm colour seen here is because of the picture quality.

Reaching this layer of the ocean, there really is no more hope, no more light, no nothing. It is a very distressing situation, I feel, because you have absolutely no control, and this is one of the things that fear me the most. Other than the unpredictability, there is also no sense of safety at all, and while distress may not be a strong enough emotion to describe this feeling, I feel that it is an apt emotion to describe both the pattern and the feeling of frustration when you have finally reached a dead end.

 



◊ REFLECTION ◊

A few things I learned throughout this project are:

  • Line qualities and tonal qualities contribute a lot to the perception of emotion through sight. Thick or thin lines, neat or ragged, dark or light, all of these qualities affect the overall feeling of a line and pattern.
  • Limited materials do not mean limited artistic explorations. By choosing to restrict the materials I used to only bathroom objects, I pushed the boundaries of how these materials could be used, and learnt to improvise when needed be. This resulted in me finding new techniques that I never knew existed before. 
  • Inspiration can come from anywhere. 
  • Work faster to reflect the amount of thinking I have done.
  • Research more about artists and artworks relating to the project as more ideas may be able to be generated and developed from doing so.
  • Try out more materials and techniques, do not be afraid of failure.
  • DOCUMENT MY WORK

Overall, I find the journey to be quite fruitful in terms of figuring out my artistic direction and learning new things. I knew that I am someone who needs to think of something well before carrying it out, but the problem is that I take way too much time reconsidering things and pondering over ideas. This resulted in me not being able to produce enough materials to reflect the extent of my thinking processes. This has been a recurring habit since way back, and with the constant amount of projects, I hope that I will be able to change and work faster, slowly but surely (ha the irony). I think that if I can work faster, I would be presented with more opportunities to grow and develop my ideas, instead of letting the ideas simmer and just remain as they are. 

 

 

 

2D Project 1: My Line is Emo – Sea My Emotions

At last, our first 2D project has come to an end. It was not a smooth sailing journey, but as they say, a smooth sea never made a skilful sailor.

This post will be the summary of this project and a break down of all 18 lines. For a much more detailed explanation, check out my process post for my thought processes and theme research, and my execution post for a behind the scenes look of how I achieved my final lines! I am quite happy with the final product, and I hope you like it too! Presenting, “Sea My Emotions”!


FINAL LAYOUT ◊ CONCEPT

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My final layout is a portrait A1 board with 554×25 mm strips. 

On the first monoprinting session, I brought along random things from my room that I thought would make interesting patterns or prints. From all of the prints produced, I found that most of them reminded me of the ocean. I also found that a toothbrush could make really intriguing patterns. It reminded me of how since I was a child, I would associate bath time with the ocean. This was how the idea of making the ocean my theme and bathroom objects my materials came about. While the association is made from personal experiences, I felt that the bathroom and the ocean are not too disparate for people to be able to make a connection between.

After several revisions of the layout, I finally settled on the A1 portrait as I thought that it would best capture the depth of the sea and could also deliver what I felt about the sea. The lines are divided into layers of the ocean (epipelagic to hadalpelagic), and each line represents a certain animal or plant that lives in that layer of the sea. I also controlled the values of each strip such that when viewed together, a gradual effect of light to dark can be seen. This is not only to showcase the physical nature of the waters (darker as it gets deeper), but also to heighten the visual connection of the emotions being arranged from positive to negative. The reason for this is my love-hate relationship with the sea. I am honestly quite terrified of the deep, dark waters, but I am also in love with its ethereal quality. I love just simply watching the waves break on the shore and the sea disappearing into the horizon. This is why I chose to arrange the emotions according to how I feel about the different layers of the ocean. I imagined myself sinking to the bottom of the ocean and visualised how I would feel while being in every layer. For a more detailed explanation, check here.

Without further ado, here is a break down of my 18 lines.


JOY

◊ RELIEF ◊  

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Every time I dive down into the sea, there is always a huge sense of relief that washes over me when I resurface, take a huge breath and look up to the sky. This is why for me, the sky represents relief. This piece is done by monoprinting on tracing paper using cotton to create a dreamy, cloud-like texture. 

◊ BLISS ◊ 

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As I mentioned before, I love watching the waves in motion. Whether it is still or raging, I like to just watch the waters go up and down, forwards and backwards. When I focus on the waves hitting the shore, I feel as if I am being sucked in and out of an otherworldly realm, even though in reality I am not moving at all. The sea is one of the places that can make me feel bliss. This piece is done by spraying Chinese ink on paper using a toothbrush.

◊ ELATION ◊

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Elation is represented by a clownfish. The striped pattern particularly reminds me of Nemo from “Finding Nemo”. For this strip, I came up with the specific emotion after creating the print. This for me is elation, because the vertical lines exude positivity and directs the eye in an upwards motion, hence showing how when happy, we are usually looking “upwards” and reaching for greater heights.

LOVE

◊ INFATUATION ◊

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This pattern represents jellyfish and infatuation. Jellyfish is one of the recurring inspiration in my art-making. In one way or another, I am sort of infatuated with the creature. The collage of water prints on  cartridge and tracing paper, along with the penned lines create a whimsical visual that I feel describes the state of mind of someone who is infatuated by someone when in love.

◊ PASSION ◊

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Ripped cotton with Chinese ink creates a really cool pattern on paper. There are fine lines and darker blocked areas which together creates a very organic form. I thought that this was reminiscent of clutters of coral reefs in the sea, beautiful in their many shapes and forms, and the dynamism of the lines, I feel, evoke passion.

◊ AFFECTION ◊ 

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While the tiger shark seems to be an unlikely candidate to represent affection, I chose to look at the patterns on its body and replicated it on tissue paper using block printing ink and shampoo. The result was a mellow-looking pattern, which is enhanced by the texture of the tissue paper. The overall softness of the look was what I feel demonstrated affection.

SURPRISE

◊ ASTONISHMENT ◊

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At this point of time, I do not really know what is under the sea anymore, and I imagine being surprised when encountering the different animals in this layer of the sea. I have never before seen giant tube worms, and was quite astonished when I Googled images of them. Hence, I tried to translate this onto the print by making swift motions of the wrist to create the dynamic lines using a toilet brush. I also used cotton bud for the heads of the tube worms.

◊ ALARM ◊

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Angler fish, with a light hanging from their heads, can come as quite a surprise, especially with their carnivorous nature. If encountered, one would feel quite alarmed and would panic for their safety, especially because you do not spend everyday actually meeting an angler fish. This piece is done using a comb to create the jagged teeth of the angler fish.

◊ BEWILDERMENT ◊

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The creation of this piece was quite experimental. After rolling ink using a stencil, I added white whiskers to mimic the limbs of a brittle star. After looking at the final result, I felt bewildered as I did not know how to feel about it. There are many things going on in the pattern, with the ink, the pattern caused by the stencil, and also the feathered acrylics. Hence I felt ‘bewilderment’ was most-fitting.

SADNESS

◊ SORROW ◊

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The eel is slimy and and moves in a slithery motion that feels slow and melancholic. I thought that this particular print looks like tears too, other than looking like the gliding bodies of eels. Hence I felt that sorrow is appropriate for this strip.

◊ GLOOM ◊

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This print replicates the texture of the skin of a dumbo octopus by haphazardly adding baby oil onto an ink-rolled linoleum. The grainy and dark quality of the print makes me feel a little depressed, especially with the overall pessimistic feel of the piece.The darkness enhances the sense of gloominess in the strip.

◊ WOE ◊

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Inspired by Rorschach, I used shampoo, block printing ink, water and Chinese ink to create this piece. Afterwards, I dissected the print and arranged the pieces side by side so as to create a line showing the gliding effect of a manta ray. The quality of spreading ink, as if caught in a paused moment of time, along with the dull colour of the newsprint, felt very sad and ethereal, hence I chose to assign ‘woe’ to this strip. 

ANGER

◊ TRAUMA ◊

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This depiction of a basket sea star is rather explosive and horrific in nature, reminding me of overgrown, abandoned forests with branches that poke the life out of you. It looks rather painful and almost physical, as if like thorns in your mind that grow after a painful experience. Therefore I felt that this represents trauma.

◊ ENVY ◊

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This was one of the most interesting prints that I created, and it was quite a spontaneous result. By adding facial foam on top of ink and pressing it down, This vein-like texture, which looks extremely similar to gills, is created. I felt that the spreading effect of the veins, very meticulous and fine, creates a haunting feeling of how envy could spread throughout our bodies. 

◊ FURY ◊

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This line is quite similar to the angler fish line in terms of execution. However, I created the finer, sharp teeth of a stoplight loosejaw by using a toilet brush instead of a comb. I also angled them to create the illusion of many wide open jaws, which is a key feature of the stoplight loosejaw. The intensity and movement shown through the line quality mimics a bout of fury perfectly.

FEAR

◊ TERROR ◊

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While replicating the physical form of the ping pong tree sponge, I also found out that the circular pattern creates a haunting ink spreading effect that reminds me of evil lurking from within the darkness. This I feel exudes terror in its simplest sense.

◊ NERVOUSNESS ◊

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I have always visualised nervousness as a dark, empty room. And at this layer of the sea, everything is dark with no light at all. There is a feeling of some glowing light like when you close your eyes for too long and start imagining what light would look like. Hence I linked this with bioluminescence, a feature owned by animals who actually live in this depth of the ocean.

◊ DISTRESS ◊

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We have finally reached the bottom of the ocean. I chose to use hair rollers to create disturbing patterns to represent the ocean floor as this is the most distressing part of the ocean, where I feel that there is no hope at all and there is a culmination of panic, worry, and a high level of fear in my mind. In the final strip, I selected the crop mostly the darker area.


PRESENTATION ◊ CONCLUSION

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In the presentation, I played a sea soundtrack to accompany my work. For the first ten seconds, I allowed my classmates to just stay still and listen to the sounds of waves while looking at my work. I included the audio as I felt that this would better let the audience know that my work is about the ocean. I also wanted to create a calm ambience that would naturally lead their eyes to the lighter coloured strips on the top of the work, and afterwards moving their gaze slowly down. Sadly I forgot to document this process and I also did not take a picture of the speakers set-up (which was placed on the floor just under the work).

Sea soundtrack that I used.

The presentation went well and I generally managed to say what I wanted to say within the time limit.

Overall, I had good fun doing this project and managed to pick up some new skills along the way. The feedback given to me by Joy and my classmates were motivating and helpful. I would definitely keep them in mind for upcoming projects. One of the most important improvement that I should work on is to do more actual work and experimentation instead of dwelling too much on ideas. After all, ideas will stay as ideas unless they are acted upon. I also need to work faster, this will allow me to perhaps open up more possibilities in my art-making. For a more detailed reflection on my processes, check out the execution post

Also, I loved watching my classmates’ presentations as they were really intriguing and inspiring. From using scents, mindful placement of their final work, well-thought concepts, beautiful technique to participatory arts, I think G09 has definitely done a good job for project 1. Really, a huge round of applause to my classmates!


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2D Project 1: My Line is Emo – Process

Okay, so since I’m not really used to blogging, I did not update anything about my work in progress for My Line is Emo. Mostly I chronicle my thoughts and ideas in small notepads that I have and later compile them into my visual journal, but I will only be including a few of the key pages here. One thing is that I did not take a lot of pictures. Only afterwards I realised that it wouldn’t be good for documentation purposes, I mean how do I expect others to visualise my thoughts?? And even when Joy kept on telling us to document everything. Sorry Joy. 

Nonetheless, this post will be an elaboration of my initial exploration, research, and thought processes over the past 5 weeks.  The execution of the final lines are elaborated here! And for a summary of everything and the final work, check here!


◊ THOUGHT PROCESSES ◊

In week 2, we were introduced to monoprinting. It was pretty cool because I have always wanted to do printmaking using linoleums and the such, but never got the chance to. At this point of time, I totally had no direction and was just trying out monoprinting itself. I brought a bunch of random stuff from my room that I thought would make an interesting mark.

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Left: Roller and block printing ink. Right: Me happily using the press.

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Bubble wrap.

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Hair roller print which looks like the sea bed.

20160818_145502 2016-08-25 123745 1Some kind of hay/rattan. Looks like underwater plants.

rsz_2016-09-11_080753_1Toothbrush print which reminds me of reeds or tall plants under the sea.

From all of the prints that I made, I saw that a lot of them reminded me of either under the sea or the ocean. I thought that it could be a possible theme. I also felt that the toothbrush made a really cool effect (the print reminded me of bushes under the sea). Suddenly, a connection was made in my head! Why don’t I make the ocean my theme and bathroom things as my material?

You might be having questions in your head. As a child, I have always associated the bathroom with the ocean. Playing with water or swimming in the bathtub, I would pretend that I was under the sea.

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While this experience is highly personal, I thought that the two are not too disparate for people to not be able to see even the slightest of connection. I was honestly quite baffled that some of my friends have never thought of connecting the bathroom to the ocean.

Anyways, I decided to pursue this theme and talked about it with Joy during our consultation on the third week. I did not have much to show her at this point of time. Long story short, I spent too much time thinking about how I should go about doing the prints/marks and did not produce actual results. The consultation did give me a clearer direction in terms of how I want to execute my ideas, though. I had materials down, so for the emotions part I instinctively thought of my trips to the S.E.A. Aquarium where I saw jellyfish and sea dragons. I thought they were magical, and they made me feel many different emotions at the same time.

IMG_9454JPG IMG_9529JPGIMG_9569JPG IMG_9678JPG From top left clockwise, tranquility, passion, peacefulness and excitement.

Joy suggested that in two panels, I could highlight micro (small) and macro (large) movements, using bathroom and ocean materials respectively. I thought that it was a really good idea. I could have an animal from the ocean represented in two adjacent lines using two different materials to express contrasting emotions. I consolidated this into a page in my journal:

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Now my next step would be to gather materials from the beach and do more prints. However, I did not manage to make prints  directly at the beach. I collected a few things to use for the next monoprinting session. Meanwhile, I also thought that I could use the lines to represent layers of the sea or different sea creatures.

In week 4, we had our group consultations. I shared about my ideas and problems to my classmates and Joy, and received feedback. Again, I did not produce enough results to reflect the extent of my thinking processes and ideas. This was one point that everyone felt I needed to improve on.

“Just do it” -Nike

HAHAHA more seriously though, my friends suggested that I should not limit myself in terms of materials. This came about as a response to me saying that there are some non-bathroom materials like bubble wrap and foam slices that produce really good textures that are reminiscent of the sea (octopus and fish skin respectively). Also, I did try using ocean materials like sea water, sand and crushed seashells, but none made any interesting prints. This made me reevaluate my choice of materials and feasibility. I felt that it was a good takeaway and told myself to really up my game this time.

That was what I thought UNTIL I fell into a pit of confusion when I proceeded to plan my next steps. Without the bathroom and ocean materials, what would the difference between the two boards be? How do I justify my techniques? What would be the link between the emotions, materials and theme? Should I scrap the two boards idea then? As you can see, I really do think quite a fair bit. I decided to try going with the bathroom and ocean materials anyways.

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I continued making prints from some other materials I found at the beach. It was frustrating because I did not seem to be making any decent prints from the ocean materials. It was then I finally scrapped the usage of ocean materials from my project, not only because I was not satisfied with the results, but also because of its impracticality. 

During the same session, I also played around with tap water, which I directly sprayed onto an ink-rolled linoleum tile. I really loved the results. (Sea water could achieve the same results, but they looked the same, and also I only had a limited supply of sea water)

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There is sort of an ethereal, glowing feel caused by the negative spaces and the diluted vs concentrated parts.

I could feel my mind spiralling in 10 000 directions so I forced myself to focus and decide on what I want to do. I finally decided to restrict myself to only using bathroom objects as materials in creating my lines. After all, I could use the same object in different ways to create different marks. This was when everything fell into place. 


◊ THEME AND LAYOUT ◊

I will elaborate on my theme and how I went about doing the layout and assigning of emotions in this section.

Okay, so at this point of time I knew that I would only be using bathroom materials. I could still have the two portrait A2 board layout, with micro and macro movements on each board, for example by using toothbrush for one line and a back scrub for the line on the other board (this was suggested by Joy during our first consultation). 

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However, I could also just have one portrait A1 board with 18 lines to separate the layers of the sea into. I felt that this was better as I could have more space to emphasise the depth of the sea. I thought that 9 layers were not enough to represent the sea in the correct proportion as shown in the diagram below. The journal page also shows my further research on the layers of the ocean and the sea creatures or plants that are found in each layer.  

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Layers of the Ocean from seasky.org

I then created another template which I used for the final work.  

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This is where I scribbled and planned the final layout, division of sea layers and also the sea creature, material and emotion associated. The deeper the ocean, the darker it becomes as less and less sunlight is available. I decided to visually show this by making my lines progressively darker from top to bottom. I also decided to include the horizon (sky and sea level). In accordance with this visual cue, I also arranged the primary emotions categories from positive to negative, with negative being the darkest. Every layer of primary emotion is representative of how I feel towards that part of the ocean.

I have sort of a love-hate relationship with the sea. To be honest, I am pretty scared of the sea. I dislike floating in the sea with my feet not touching the ground, especially if I look down and am unable to see anything. I am afraid of drowning, of unknown animals swimming around my feet (What if it’s a shark? A jellyfish? A crab? A MERMAID READY TO DRAG ME DOWN TO MY DEATH FOR HER AMUSEMENT???).

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But I like mermaids

Basically I do not like having my sight sort of taken away from me and having no control. However, I also love the ethereal quality of the sea. I love going to aquariums and watching magnificent sea creatures swim in all their glory. I love gazing at the sea from the shore and it makes me happy. As long as I am in no possible danger, I find that the sea is very calming and an out-of-this-world place (I love the mountains too though).

Therefore, I chose to arrange it in this manner from top to bottom. I imagined slowly sinking into the bottom of the sea.

Joy I feel happy and content when watching the horizon and the calming waves.
Love This part of the ocean is where I imagine most of the creatures I love to look at live.
Surprise Creatures that are rarely seen start to appear, and I imagine being surprised when I encounter them.
Sadness At this point of time I would start to feel lonely and gloomy due to the darkness.
Anger The sadness would morph into irritation because of my helplessness and inability to control the situation.
Fear When I am nearing the bottom, I would start to panic over how I unfamiliar my surroundings are and fear over the dark and the unknown.

From here, I created marks and cropped them accordingly, being mindful of the overall value of the strip so that with all 18 strips together, a gradation can be seen. I was also conscious in trying to express a certain primary emotion for each line, and only afterwards I assign a more specific emotion to the finished line.

For the execution of the final lines and the elaboration on technique, check it out on this separate post!


◊ REFERENCES ◊

I did not have any specific artist references for this project. Most of my inspiration came from my personal experiences and also my previous visits to the aquarium, and my general interest/fear of the sea. 

I did look at Rorschach for one of my lines, though.

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Image sources playbuzz.com and drawception,com

I felt that the action of folding a piece of paper into two, creating symmetrical patterns, is quite intriguing and has the potential to create interesting marks. I also felt that a widespread effect could also be achieved in order to mimic the physicality of a manta ray. All the other lines were purely experimental and explorational. 



The journey had not been a smooth one but I am glad that I pushed through! I am happy to say that I did work hard for this project and every line was a whole-hearted effort. I have not only picked up a new skill (monoprinting), but also learnt a few things here and there from feedback and from my classmates’ presentations! Thanks for reading! A fuller reflection is up on the execution of final lines post!