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No. 2 (PH-401)
1957
oil on canvas
113x155 in.
https://www.clyffordstillmuseum.org/


Raised during a tumultuous time in American history, Clyfford Still was a major player in the first wave of Abstract Expressionism. Focused on emotional expression and the subconscious, Abstract Expressionism is a clear response to the horrors of World War II.  This movement can be narrowed down further into specific groups that match stylistically, one of which is Still’s own color field. 

In color field paintings, colors are depicted as flat as possible, allowing the colors themselves to become the main subject matter of the work. In observing Still’s style, it is easy to see that this easily exemplifies the work he created. In fact, his name is closely tied in the creation of this offshoot of Abstract Expressionism. While many color field painters created simple lines and shapes of colors, Still instead crafted jagged, less uniform shapes. These shapes appear to be almost torn due to these jagged edges. His colors are rich and exact, creating a very aesthetically pleasing result.

This is the main thing regarding Still that I draw inspiration from. His own usage of color field encouraged me to further explore this movement, which brought me full circle in my artist studies as it reminded me of Sol Lewitt, whom I studied my sophomore year. By borrowing ideas from these two artists, I began to incorporate blocks of color in my own work. I discovered what they likely discovered: that there is something intensely satisfying about creating perfectly straight lines or perfectly uniform colors. I always add imagery to my art at the very end, allowing me to work on the colors of the background for as long as possible and to truly appreciate the way they complement one another.

Still has helped lead me to my own style of work, but he also taught me what it means to truly love your work. In his will, he dedicated his entire body of work (worth unimaginable sums of money) to any city that would protect it, care for it, and show it to the world. I find this to be the perfect relationship with art. He loved his art so much, it was such a part of him, that all he wanted was for someone else to look after it and love it as he did. He exemplifies to me an artist who truly created for the right reasons, because he was truly passionate about it;.

                                         
                                                  


 
 
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Elevation (Peru and Chicago)

September 2010 
18" x 24"
Acrylic and Enamel on Canvas

http://aimartistry.com/

Amy Shackleton, a 26-year old Canadian artist, is currently creating work utilizing her own interesting and unique style. As seen in a viral time-lapse video on Youtube, Shackleton applies paint from a squeeze bottle onto a canvas that she is able to rotate freely. She guides the drips by moving the canvas as they fall, allowing her to manipulate gravity to create precise linework and detailed imagery.

It feels as though she is really pushing herself, considering that she frequently portrays cityscapes with straight lines and structures employing a method that is used almost exclusively for abstraction. The fact that she has to overcome a huge force of nature gives an interesting depth to the work. While the pieces are aesthetically pleasing and certainly have a large amount of visual merit, I believe that the process that goes into them is what makes them so unique. The thought of breaking down traditional barriers with mediums is very appealing to me, probably because I really don’t know if I would ever have the courage to do it. The time that Shackleton takes to painstakingly drip paint is astounding, but every single painting clearly exemplifies the amount of time and effort she has put into them.

This courage to defy traditional mediums and ignore the typical way to create art is what I have taken from Shackleton, along with her intense dedication. While I don’t think I’m at a comfortable enough place in my own art to start taking extreme risks and abandoning my paintbrush, I do draw inspiration from how hard she manages to work day in and day out to create her work. I hope to be able to work half as hard as Shackleton does in my own life and in my own art. .



 
 
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While this piece is important in that it follows the common thread of my work, it is more important is the way that it connects me to my own past. The first piece of work that I ever truly threw myself into was my Current Event project Sophomore year. Up until that point, art was more of just a class to me. I took it because I had always taken it, but it was not a huge part of my life. The time, energy, and soul I put into that piece two years ago is what inspired me to begin taking art seriously. Ever since that project, I have made art a priority in my life. This piece utilizes the same dominant imagery as that piece two years ago, thus connecting me to own past. Painting the image of the soldier reminded me of how long a process the original was. It put me back in the same position I was at age sixteen. I truly began to feel like a Sophomore again and, for just a moment, I forgot about all the stresses I have been undergoing since I legally became an adult. This painting helped me calm down and it helped me remember. While it may not hold such a deep meaning to every viewer, I hope that, once it is completed, it will have enough visual and mental stimulation to keep the viewer looking for a moment. 

 
 
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My main goal with this one was contrast (see artist statement.) I had so much fun pulling my hair out trying to perfectly paint the chevron background. The color choices were an attempt to portray the happiest colors possible. The darker green was the color of my room during my early teenage years, which is the reason I picked it because it does convey positivity to me. The image in the foreground is an image of a girl looking incredibly pensive, which I randomly stumbled across on the internet. Something about that appeals to me, the perfect coincidence that leads an artist to something that simply can't resist portraying. This painting, by contrasting elements both visually and conceptually, has much in common with the work that has become my staple over the last year. 

 
 
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This set of ten was purely about experimentation. I played with spray paint, water color, paper, metallics, gravity, leaves, etc, in order to fully explore the different mediums. I wanted to dedicate these ten works to experimentation simply because it's something that I don't typically do. I have been so focused on creating things a certain way (typically realistic painting) that I really wanted to do something different. I got a lot of negative feedback on these, mostly because my peers didn't like me deviating from my previous style. Either way, I was really glad I gave myself a chance to grow and adapt as an artist, despite the fact that the results weren't amazing. However, there were a couple of things that I really liked from this set. Firstly, I got an opportunity to play with the natural feel of the wood. I filled a knot in the wood with paint and allowed it to drip down. I liked working with what was already there, so it's something that may very well show up in my art in the future. The only other thing from this set that might keep cropping up is the metallics. 

 
 
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The beginning of this set of the 10 works went by pretty well. I played around with shapes, spray paint, and metallics. It was honestly pretty standard for me, so it didn't really challenge me all that much. The main thing I learned from this was that, when given the opportunity to experiment--I should take it. That was the biggest thing I got out of this. I wasn't happy with this for that very reason. I played it way too safe, worked with mediums I already knew, and didn't even really challenge myself. I would not give myself a high grade on these. Though I liked some of them and had fun making them, they should have been an experiment going on here and I feel like I missed the point of the project. 

 
 
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ARTIST STATEMENT
Everything in the universe is made up of building blocks: miniscule pieces that on their own do astronomically little, but that work together to create a beautifully complex and inspired system. Protons, neutrons, and electrons, so small they can barely be defined as having weight form atoms, which themselves are invisible to the naked eye. These atoms form molecules which make up the elements which serve as the building blocks of our own world. Bones are the body’s frame, the invisible yet ever-present system keeping us from completely falling apart. I am fascinated by bones for this reason. We spend our entire lives ignoring our bones until we break them, and only then do we realize their vitality, or until after our bodies decay. They are the final piece of us to remain after our demise and it is for this reason that they are associated with death and horror and despair. When in reality, they are a much more fundamental part of our lives than of our deaths. I wanted to portray skeletons as whimsical and happy instead of frightening or gruesome for this very reason. 
INTELLIGENCE
Going into the summer, I was coming off of an intense amount of stress from exams and working long hours.
I was so mentally exhausted that, instead of laboring over the miniscule ideas my art would represent, I just went with something that simply, inexplicably, felt right. Instead of dreading the thought of messing up the concepts behind my art, I actually looked forward to sitting down and painting just to paint. I felt like I connected to the process and the techniques much more than usual just working without overthinking. 
SELF ASSESSMENT
If I was forced at gunpoint to grade myself on this project, I would give myself a B. I worked really hard on these, but I still don’t think they utilized the full breadth of my skill. In the future, I think working on a smaller scale will help me focus on detail before I try to go too big again. If I spend the same amount of time on these upcoming small works as I did over this summer, (I know it’s probably not physically possible, but  a
girl can dream) it could end up being better than I could ever hope for. All that being said, I’m
enthusiastic for this next year and especially this next project.   
INVESTMENT
The inspiration for this project came to me in the middle of June. I started drawing the largest piece within two or three days of thinking of the idea. Despite working full time, I was still able to finish my first piece by the end of June, simply because I truly had that much fun making it. I would stay up insanely late working on it, so it was done even faster than I expected it to be. I started on the smallest one second, and I was torn as to what aesthetic I wanted to portray, so it sat in the beginning stages until the end of July. All in all, I was done with all three pieces by the beginning of August. I was actually excited about my work ethic during this project and I hope to continue this into this year. 

 
 
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This was actually inspired by a complete lack of thought. I had just primed this wood, and newspaper got stuck to the bottom of these pieces. I just started doodling around these little mistakes. I kept on saying that this would just be the back of my art, and that doodling it was just for fun. I was so so wrong. I ended up painting the front, but it was obviously that I had dedicated myself a lot more to this side of the piece. It was really entertaining to me, because it was the first time I just thoughtlessly created something. It took an insane amount of time and effort drawing all this elaborate nonsense, so I sort of feel as though the meaning directly relates to that. There isn't any deep meaning to this besides that, and normally that would really really bother me. I'm more or less obsessive about my art having meaning, but I was actually really happy about this one. It was pure creation, fueled by my own creativity, pushed along by nothing more than my own doodles.