Whitescapes: Part 1

A response to Odili Donald Odita’s Art Assignment

I’ve been meaning to make a mobile to hang from this sticky hook ever since we moved into this apartment and discovered it there.

The Materials:

I knew that any objects I chose must be light enough that I wouldn’t worry about my mobile breaking this sticky hook (of which I know nothing) from the ceiling. And I decided that they must still feel ‘white’ when I placed them on the desk in preparation.

I needed something to act as a base, and I didn’t have anything white (other than heavy ceramics) to serve that purpose, so I wrapped up an old damaged soccer ball in a white jumper.

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The Process:

I built haphazardly, trying to create something with a spread of heights and distances but not allowing myself to change anything after I’d hung it.

The Outcome:

In the end I liked how it felt like a world, perhaps with little communities or utilities hanging off the side. It reminded me a little of each of Luminocity (computer game) and The Edge Chronicles (books).

As far as the colours go, it seems that most things feel yellowy compared to the bright shiny white of new white socks and scrunched printer paper. But I’ve only just hung it up. I’ll report back in a week or so.

sketches vs finals

Some days art is frustrating. And there’s something to be said for the idea that “no one knows how it was meant to look in your head”. And there’s something to be said for putting your best foot forward and not pointing out the mistakes in your own work. And there’s something to be said for the fact that you’re a bad judge of your own work anyway. But I posted one version of this piece on twitter and another on tumblr, so I’m gonna ignore those ideas and talk about dissatisfaction with my own art.

I gather I’m not unusual in my frustrations about the whole sketch->final thing. The beauty of a sketch is it’s all loose and flowy, and your eye skips past any mistakes because…. well, it’s just a sketch, and our brains are good at finding meaning in mess and joining the dots of an outline.

Earlier this week I sketched this for Colour Collective:

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And it was so pretty! It had so much potential!

I was busy this week, so I couldn’t give as much time to the picture as I wanted to. And I figured it would be okay because it’s rendering people that takes the most time and effort, so probably I could just spend a few hours on Friday evening on it.

So I did, and I ended up with this:

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I felt pretty good about it honestly. I thought it was nice. Until I compared it back to the original sketch and saw it was missing like 90% of the emotion. I scheduled it for Colour Collective anyway, but went to bed discouraged.

This morning I decided to just have another go at the background, seeing how much I could keep, and if I could capture some of the magical feeling of the original sketch. I spent about an hour on it and came up with this:

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I like it a lot more than the version I had last night, and I don’t plan to do any more with it, but I’m still frustrated. There’s a weird spot where you’ve got to keep the energy of the sketch while also making it look ‘finished’ and I’m really struggling to find it here. I found the halfway zone but now maybe it’s lacking in energy and also clarity? 

I feel this final piece looks too ~messy~ and a little off, which I assume is my lack of proficiency with the oil pastel-y brushes. I also hadn’t really wanted to use the pastel brushes. I’d wanted to stick with the pencil-based techniques I’ve been using in other work recently, because I feel like I should be able to convey the same emotions using those, I’m just not quite sure how.

Anyway, that’s my art brainspace right now. Trying things outside of your comfort zone is useful, but it can also be discouraging. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good in this picture and there’s a lot that I like about it and I think others will like it too, or I wouldn’t have posted it at all. But that doesn’t make the frustration go away.