Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hands photgraph

I am posting this photo because I like the composition, the energy, the natural light giving it a luminous quality. It was taken at the museum when I took my class to the Aqua exhibition. From memory it was taken without flash because flash cannot be used in the museum.

 

Photographs from Session One in 2011

As I couldn't find the photos I took on the first IMPD workshop (they mysteriously went much further up in my my iPhoto collection) I am posting them now. The following photos were the few I liked best from the many I took. They either show the rule of thirds, create an interesting design through placement of shapes, explore nature's textures, show the use of the macro feature of the camera or have an abstract quality that resonates with me. Some demonstrate more than one of these qualities.


At the first workshop I was unable to to get the two stage shutter effect, with part of a photo in focus and part blurry,  but I managed to do this at home the following weekend by persevering! (See my experimental photos post).


All the photos below were taken on Manual.

















I know know more than I did at the beginning of the first workshop so I can....



 

Experimental Photographs at Home- looking for the elusive second shutter effect

Exploring rule of thirds and quirky juxtaposition



Vase and bananas- exploring background and foreground and rule of thirds


Still trying for the second shutter effect...





Finally have the blurry background effect Stuart showed us




Still life focusing on shape, texture, light effects and reflections

Learning How to Animate with 'Pencil' Programme

Today I learned how to use the tools on the nifty animation programme called Pencil to create a simple animation of a ball bouncing. It was really easy to use compared to I Can Animate and I think children will find it simple to use to animate concepts.


I made two versions and was much more satisfied with the second version I have uploaded as:
  • the bouncing effect was smoother as I used more frames
  • I slowed the time down to 7 frames per second
  • the ball was a consistent round size and I only had to make the flattened ball at the ground level to emphasise the bounce
A very enjoyable task indeed. I plan to get the techsperts in to help my students develop an animation of their family's migration to NZ.


video

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Charcoal Drawing Techniques

Still life


10 minute observational drawing using right hand
 
 This first drawing was difficult to get the proportion correct. I started from the top but didn't really have a strategy to get the correct placement.
5 minute, left handed observational drawing

This exercise was difficult to do with any precision as I am not left handed but the lines were looser than the first observational drawing and more interesting and quirky.


Blind drawing, 3 mins, using right hand

This technique produced even more interesting charcoal marks and is has the loosest lines. In some ways it is more successful than the straight observation using the predominant hand.


Exploring negative shapes

 This exercise was challenging as the negative space had to be thought through to give the suggestion of the still life arrangement simply by darkening around the objects


Exploring shape and shading



Gradation example

The last exercise  was really much easier than the first few techniques. The willow charcoal pencil was excellent to use and the smuging effect to create a gradation effect was more straightforward in terms of technique. Going from dark to light in a smooth transition is not quite realised on the test strip but is more successful in the apple. The putty eraser also helped to create lighter areas that could be seen on the apple surface.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

First Assignment

The first assignment is writing an essay on two lanscape works by one artist. I have chosen Rita Angus because she is an iconic NZ landscape painter whose work I really admire.

Assessment One
"Thinking About Art " Cultural Studies Assessment
"Explore the differences and similarities, contrast and compare the two works using the four topic areas"
  • Identity
  • Style
  • Function/Symolism
  • Cultural Context

 A comparison of Cass (1936) and Flight (1968-69)

Cass, 1936


Flight, 1968-69

This essay explores the differences and similarities between Cass and Flight by considering the paintings' cultural contexts, their function/symbolism, style and identity.


Rita Angus painted these two artworks thirty-three years apart. Although Angus does not appear to have altered her painting style over these years, the symbolism in the later work reflects how politically and socially aware she had become towards the later years of her life and how her views were reflected in her artworks. The earlier work is Cass, an oil on canvas on board measuring 370 x 460mm, painted in 1936. This artwork is an iconic New Zealand painting. McAloon and Trevelyan note that it was “voted New Zealand’s greatest painting” in a television poll in 2006[1]. They also point out that it “reflects the developments that occurred in the New Zealand art world in the latter half of the last century.” [2] The later work is Flight, a larger oil on hardboard measuring 602 x 607mm, painted in 1968-69 just before she died. Both paintings depict landscapes, one of the subject matter passions throughout her life.

The earlier painting, Cass, belongs to an era in New Zealand painting when artists focused on the uniqueness of different landscapes and strove to capture, with new-found intensity, the real features of that landscape. The romanticized artworks of early New Zealand painters were replaced by hard-edged landscape paintings celebrating light, form (mountains and man-made features imposing on the landscape) cloud formations, and native and exotic vegetation. Painters such as Rata Lovell-Smith and Christopher Perkins were contemporaries who would have influenced Angus. Angus would have aware of Cubism, originating in Paris in 1908, and she would have been aware of other modern art movements.

Cass is considered a ground-breaking work of art with its “hard-edged form, stark light, rhythmic patterning and decorative colour” deriving from modernism.[3] The artist uses dancing lines to capture native grasses blowing in the wind, and air moving. The use of line, colour and form is striking. The painting depicts the impact of human activity on the land in a very direct and unromanticised way. A faceless traveller waits for the next train at the railway station; power poles without wires demand the viewer’s attention. Cass was considered sufficiently significant to be in the 1940 National Centennial Exhibition of New Zealand Art that featured other ground-breaking artists forging what was to be considered a national school of painting[4] – including Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon.

Stylistically Flight is similarly hard-edged and has a strong composition broken into horizontal thirds of the canvas. The composition in Cass, by comparison, features vertical thirds with the intersection of the mountains drawing the viewer’s eyes to the exotic pine trees – interlopers in the natural landscape. Neither paintings are naturalistic; Flight is more abstract with the sea in the middle of the painting being quite flat and lifeless. The gravestones are reduced to simple shapes behind a jumble of rocks on the shoreline. Trees and vegetation, featuring so prominently in Cass, are absent.

When Angus painted Cass it was exhibited with a price tag of 8 guineas. It did not sell and the market for selling paintings did not improve until the 1960s. It is amazing that Angus continued to work with expensive oil paints all of her life although she sold very few paintings. Flight was the last finished work of art she painted before she died. She was living in Thorndon, Wellington, and she sketched many of the headstones in Bolton St cemetery before it was demolished to make way for a motorway. In many ways this painting is a protest painting.

Personal protests feature in much of Angus’s work. She spent much of her life breaking away from conservative notions of the role of women. She anguished when married to Alfred Cook, another painter, as she was expected to be a home-maker in the usual traditional role. Even when her husband relented and allowed her to paint, he stipulated that it had to be in his own “style”.[5] The marriage did not last long - happily to the benefit of New Zealand art. Angus was also a pacifist who endured social opprobrium for her views and she even appeared before the Industrial Manpower Appeal Committee in 1944 for refusing to work in a factory for the war effort.[6]

Given this history of strong personal sentiments against the prevailing views of the time, after the First World War and during the Second World War, and the difficulties of being taken seriously as a professional female artist in conservative New Zealand, the strong emotion in Flight is not surprising. Her health was failing and she may well have been feeling her own mortality. Perhaps the stone dove which forms the centerpiece of the painting is also there as her own epitaph? It was one of the stone carvings at the cemetery she lovingly sketched. The painting protests the destruction of an historical site, a flagrant disregard for a memorial place. The colours are more sombre than in Cass which has vibrant lines and breathtaking chromatic palette capturing the atmospherics of Central Otago. Given the association of doves with “peace, freedom, departure, [and] consolation”[7], this remarkable painting may serve dual purposes: a record of municipal vandalism and a final comment on the artist’s courageous personal convictions and determination to succeed, –  a legacy as she departs this life. The painting shows that life does indeed go on – in the gorse fires lit in the background, the boats on the sea, and the lone seagull.

In conclusion, Rita Angus has been considered as one of the finest and iconic New Zealand landscape painters. She had a passion for landscape painting throughout her life and both paintings reflect this. Her life was difficult for various reasons: her struggle to earn a living through art when women found themselves locked into a stereotypical role, her modern hard-edged style of painting which often was not understood and appreciated by the public at large, and her strong pacifist ideals and principles which are poignantly emphasized in the more abstract Flight. Both artworks contain personal messages about the impact of people on the land. The landscape in Cass is a recognizable location although buildings have disappeared over time. Flight is a deeper, more serious, personally constructed ‘amalgamated’ landscape rather than the true depiction of one recognizable place. The paintings show the artist’s shift from exterior landscapes to an interior landscape, rich with symbolism a testament to Angus’s personal beliefs and concerns.
 


[1] William  McAloon & Jill Trevelyan (eds), Rita Angus: Life and Vision, Te Papa Press, 2008, p. 9. 
[2] Ibidem.
[3] Ibid., p.10.
[4] Ibid., p.11.
[5] Lovely Rita – A Painter’s Life, DVD, Gaylene Preston, 2007.
[6] William McAloon & Jill Trevelyan (eds), Rita Angus: Life and Vision, Te Papa Press, 2008, p. 217.
[7] Ibid., p.195.

A New Perspective on Photography!

The workshop with Stuart Hale was a revelation!
Insights
  • The Rule of Thirds
  • Using an ordinary digital camera on Manual setting
  • Using the Macro function
  • Using the 2 stage shutter
  • Changing the Point of View ("giraffe, possum, mouse")
Truly  inspiring. I will upload some of my first photo efforts.