Monday, October 18, 2010

Midterm Portfolio

Choosing my best and worst pieces was harder than I thought it would be! I had too many bad ones to choose from and not enough that I'm satisfied with, so I thought about my goals for this class and picked these two. We've been focusing a lot on watercolors, which I really like (as opposed to, say, the pen tablet), and I think I've been getting a little better! Take a look:

My worst piece: a 5x7" watercolor of the Disney Concert Hall in LA. Not only did I lose control of the watercolors, I might have insulted Frank Gehry. This stands out to me as one of my worst watercolors because it has no definition of form, the colors are bland and straight from the palette (and I used black - I never use black!), the water seems to have escaped any boundaries I might have thought of, and there isn't a lot of contrast. The only (slightly) redeeming thing is the lower right hand corner where I managed to define part of the form with white and shadow washes - but the shadows are too dark, not varied, and nowhere near the correct shape. And where I might have been able to rescue another bad watercolor with some line art, here this one fails too: the colors are just too boring.

I picked this as my best work not because I think it's perfect, but because I think it represents my improvement. A more traditional, painterly watercolor might have been a more obvious choice for my midterm, but this piece proves that I've been branching out. The subject is a street in the Chelsea Art District in NYC; I illustrated it because I was intrigued by the proportions of some of the windows and grate things on the building. I used muted colors on cream paper, and maybe my color choice combined with the horizontal composition makes everything seem too quiet, but I like it that way. I love to play with watercolor's ability to fill in a space with really subtle color and saturation variations, and sometimes I feel like the medium should be shown off. One of my favorite bits is the bottom edge where the brush started to go dry - I physically had to pull my own hand back to stop myself from "correcting" it. I consider this an achievement. I also think the colors that make up the street are blended well (or at least interestingly). I'm not entirely happy with the trees (they look kind of noodly), and I wish I'd thought to make the top edge straighter, but I like the proportions and interaction between the negative (paper) and positive (painted) space. For me, this captures a feeling - of being in Chelsea and being inspired by contemporary art - and that's what illustration is all about!

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