27 September 2009

Cornflake Girl. (A Critique of my Artwork by Caitlin St Angelo.)

So, I'm not really sure if most of you know, but I've been in love with creative expression since before I can remember, whether it be through writing, drawing, beading, cooking, baking, or collaging. A few months ago, my friend Caitlin St Angelo had been given an assignment for her course in artwork to critique a "showcased artist."

(PS: Yes, that photo is of me, during my very first semester in college, at age 18. I took a poorly-instructed art course at that community college, and it was the only "B" grade I've ever received while in college or university. Honestly, the teacher only gave "A"s to the students who were brown-nosers and suck-ups. And seriously, I have been known to be quite the "teacher's pet"...except in that class. Especially in that class. Because the art professor was probably in his late-80's and showed us his published work, which, honest-to-God, looked like a five-year-old had been let loose with a pencil in his hand after being allowed access to an open sugar bowl. It was that bad. And I have never taken an instructed art class since. Anyway...)

Now, I'm not really some grand artist, raking in the dough, or anything more than a semi-refined "casual doodler." But... I had just been asked by another friend if she could showcase three of my pieces at a New York university for NEDAwareness Week 2009, and shortly afterwards, I was asked to do a piece for an auction to help my friend Stacy Pershall meet the budget goal for the costs of her upcoming documentary. So yeah, I guess you could kinda call me an artist whose creations have been "displayed."

At any rate, she chose three drawings that I had intended as part of a "series," though sadly, I have never finished creating all of the imagined pieces I wanted to include. The following is her critique, written in early 2009.
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"Lily M___'s drawing, as pictured on the previous page, reflects her 10 year drawing experience, as well as the triumphs and tribulations that fuel her work. Her initial drawings were anime imitations, which set the basis for her "cartooning", although she has considerable experience drawing realistically. Her focus slowly shifted through her early adolescence into using art as an outlet, channeling the themes of friendship, love, and the emotional runoff from her lifelong eating disorder.

This particular piece is one in a three-part series, pictures of which are shown below. Lily's Japanese-inspired figures have morphed over time in to a very specific stylized form, which still shows a basic understanding for the curves of anatomy. Her consistent use of the same style throughout her drawings implies that Lily has found her unique artistic voice, and developed a particular look that defines her work. This piece specifically also showcases a narrative, which is further developed in the series, and is very typical in all of her artwork. Lily also fond of adding a written sentence to her pieces, acting as a sort of statement of intent. Here, "I never was a cornflake girl" is stated, placed neatly beside the female form, both of which comprise a very simple and clean-cut composition, highlighted with the use of a general left side light source. There are multiple focal points, keeping the viewers eye moving - first to the "X", then between the falling cereal bowl and the written phrase next to the girl. Her artistic visions are usually complimented with very soft feminine figures like this one, frequently having some sort of erethral quality to them, and being very delicately proportioned. Rarely do her figures include full detailed anatomy, they are usually simplified down to very minimal lines, focusing on the subject matter directly and not embellishing on anything extraneous to that theme.

Although there is much to be said about the caliber of her work, there is a substantial amount that may not be considered up to par. Her figures, for example, are disproportionate; the hands and feet on all of her forms are over-sized, their bodies elongated and lanky. Rarely do her people have accurate facial features; this figure lacks eyes, a nose, and has only an "X" in place of he mouth. The range of lights and darks (all done with a #2 pencil) are very limited, representing only three or four shades. There is a complete lack of background, without even a horizon line to set the perspective. The inner contours, on the shirt for example, are very understated; only the outer contours are drawn in, the interiors left to be imagined. This piece lacks much of the "wow" factor in realism. In comparison to a detailed drawing, finished edge-to-edge realistically, Lily's piece might look much less skilled.

The flaw with the negative critique is that a drawing as such cannot necessarily be treated as a "traditional" piece. One could argue that Lily has little artistic talent, and is very limited in her capabilities. Her artwork doesn't show an efficient mastery of value scale, and is very simplistic overall. So much more could have been accomplished here, as there is much negative space to be filled. One could also argue that the simplistic forms and composition compliment the purpose of the piece, while the unrealistically drawn figure--consider its proportions, and the "X" across her mouth--in addition to the message beside her, are choice for conveying the message behind this drawing. The narrative here tells a very compelling story, especially in the context of the series. The minimalist approach, paired with the overall style, is completely warranted in this situation, and goes to show that Lily is a very talented artist, as well as an effective storyteller through the use of her art."
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So... What are your thoughts on my artwork?

1 comment:

  1. I love your art, I do! And I love that little Pocky Turtle :)

    ReplyDelete

Gimme some love! <3