Monday, December 15, 2008

Cole Kluesner - Fall '08


     Late one night I was trying to think of ideas to do for my project, but of course instead I started procrastinating and browsing through a bunch of YouTube videos. I started watching a bunch of sped-up videos of people drawing, and I eventually came past speed painting or performance painting. I think the name of the man who really caught my eye was Jean Pierre Blanchard. I believe he has three or four videos floating around YouTube, and if you type in his name I'm sure you'll come across one or two of them. He would create these six foot portraits of famous celebrities in about five minutes or so. They were absolutely incredible, and the filming of the whole thing really struck my eye too. Whoever the cameramen were, they were able to capture the canvas being created as well as the audiences' reaction. I loved it, so I thought to myself, "hm, that can't be too hard, can it?"

     It is. My first attempt I simply mixed a little paint, taped up a 20"x 30" board and started painting. I got about half way through until I really couldn't stand looking at it. My second attempt was more valid. I snapped a photograph of myself, and began sketching it on looseleaf paper. Once I had the initial lines down, I did the same thing as the first. I taped up a 20"x30" black board and started working. I actually finished my second one, but I really did not like how these were turning out at all. Blanchard had made it look so easy. Eventually I went out to buy new premixed paints and another board. I took a new photograph and drew it out on computer paper. I even took colored pencils and mapped out what colors I wanted to use where. Once I had a general idea of what lines and colors to put where, I started yet again. I finished and I was somewhat satisfied with the end product which is why I decided to use this one to show to the class.

     I think one reason why I continued to try is first off - I hate presenting work that doesn't meet my own standards. Secondly, I think I continued trying because I really actually enjoyed doing this. I've been cursed with the idea of perfection, so a lot of my work has been incredibly time consuming and worked out to the last line. However, I actually really liked breaking out of my "shell" and trying something a sloppier and faster.

     The outcome, considering the time I spent on it, I thought was pretty successful. I don't think it looks much like me, but I'm still glad that this time you could actually tell that it was a face. I really do want to continue doing something like this, and maybe increase my speed and accuracy. Eventually, I would really like to do this in front of a small group, and I already said this, but I really do like the idea for a possible presentation during Open House this semester.

     I stated in my beginning presentation that I pride myself in not really having a style. I think that's why this artist and in this style really captured my attention: because this was a style that I am not familiar with at all, so I told myself I can try it, and worse comes to worse I resort back to one of my other styles. Jill did point out that I do tend to focus on portraits, and again that meets my unknown criteria. I really do like drawing/painting faces. I just was really intrigued by trying something that not everyone does, and something new.


      I guess I sort of took my second project as an opportunity to try and get used to the idea of speed painting.  At this point, it's really not about the performance part, simply just the idea of moving fast with the paintbrush and ignoring any small mistakes I make along the way.  Again, I simply have just hung a sheet of white 20" x 30" illustration board on my wall after sketching this image out a dozen of times.

     My focus on this project, was to push myself a little bit further.  I had decided to do my painting upside down in hopes that maybe this trick could come in handy for my final project.  This painting actually came quite smoothly to me, and I rarely found myself disliking any of my preliminary sketches.

     The image I decided to paint was Superman.  Unlike my first project, where I had attempted to do a self-portrait, I went along the lines of a figure that everyone would recognize.  I mentioned that this piece came quite easily to me, which was probably due to the fact that I am in love with drawing comics.  I went into this project with a lot of knowledge on comic-character shading and their exaggerated muscular stature.  I was really happy with my outcome of this piece.



     After my second project I was told that if I wanted to continue to present my speed paintings, that eventually I would have to do it in front of the class.  This whole idea of presenting a painting that I have done within a few minutes, as well as painting it in front of people was actually quite nerve-racking for me.  I wasn't really sure what to think.  I guess it was all or nothing, right?

     Like my second project, I really wanted to pick a familiar face that most people could recognize once I was done.  I know it is a bit suggestive given the time, but I chose do paint Barrack Obama.  No, I did not vote for him, and I was not trying to pass any subliminal messages with my work.  I simply chose a face that has been extremely popular in the media lately, and given the timing I'm sure everyone is familiar with who he is.

     I started off browsing for images until I came across one that I wanted with a style that I could paint while only using two colors to try and speed up my time.  After I found my image, I drew it over and over.  I decided not to include any of my drawings since the majority of them were simply sketches of just an eye, or just the lips.  

     Most of my finished drawings done in charcoal and in ink are all celebrity portraits, and I've had enough time spent on drawing faces that I like to think that I know how to make it resemble the person I'm going for.  I put a lot of effort into the eyes, mouth, and the shape of the head.  To me, these features give distinct properties of a specific face.  Most of the time you can get away with an extra strand of hair or the shape of the ears.  Noses rank somewhere in the middle to me as far as accuracy goes.

     So after I felt like I had his main features down, I moved on to painting  Maybe I went to this stage a little too soon, because I was stuck on it for quite a while.  I did my first two paintings with a reference, and after that I tried doing all of them off the top of my head.  It was so ironic to me because I would finish one of my trial paintings, and while I was in the process I'd be thinking to myself, "Hey, this one's really looking like him!"  But once I finished and took a few steps back it was just an awful feeling.  The eyes would be off, the angle of the face was off, the lips were off center, the nose was too long.  I found endless errors in my work and at first this became really stressful.  The eyes were always terrible.  I would always make them too small, and when I would try to make them bigger I would end up making the entire face bigger.

     After my first handful of paintings though, I found these to be incredibly relaxing, regardless of whether or not my outcome would resemble my subject.  I was happy enough at this point that they were all looking like faces.  It was so ironic because I would start these paintings, and once I got started I would be completely calm until I put my brushes down and took a step back.  Project 3 did not include a "finished" piece, however, it was simply documenting all of my preparation for Project 4/Open House.


     For my final project, I had to figure out a way to wrap everything up.  I chose to do this at Open House, and why wouldn't I have?  I  was finally willing to do a live painting and there would definitely be a crowd at the Studio Arts Building.

     I wasn't really too nervous until a few people started gathering around at about 5:50.  I went and changed and had finally decided at that point that I was going to talk about what I was going to do and what my goals have been throughout this semester.  I talked for about five minutes, and then turned my back on the crowd towards my blank sheet, and started painting.

     Once I started painting it was the weirdest feeling.  I wasn't nervous anymore, and I completely tuned out whatever I was hearing, so it became just me and the painting.  Sounds incredibly cheesy, but that's what happened.  After I had finished the basic grey outlines, I took a step back and looked at it and thought to myself, "wow, that doesn't look half bad."  By the time I was done I felt like it was absolutely successful.

     I was aiming to complete the painting in 8 minutes, and I did end up running up to 11 minutes.  I still don't see it at all as though it were a failure, though.  Instead I really do view this experience as a stepping stone.  I've climbed "out of the box" with this idea of perfection and every line needing to be placed somewhere specific, and realized that although accuracy is beautiful to me, so is originality.

And since Jill's camera decided it didn't want to cooperate, if anyone has any "action shots" or small videos I would love to have them e-mailed to me!  Thank you!

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