Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Artistic Fingerprint

This fall I returned to school, after a 7 year break, to finish my Bachelor's degree. When I started college back in 1995, I was double majoring in Art and History. After my first semester at school, I switched to double majoring in Art and Theatre, with a minor in Dance.

Not only had it been 7 years since I'd done college classes-- it had been 7 years since I'd really done any art as well.

I have to admit, I started both with a little bit of fear-- I didn't know if art was going to be more like riding a bike or more like playing a piano. The former, you can pretty much just pick back up any time, the latter...not so much. This time, I knew that I wanted to teach art, so I thought it best to add Education to my double majors.

So I'm extremely thankful to Mr. Percy for insisting that I take his Integrating Art into Education class-- even though it's a course usually reserved for people further along in the Teacher Education Program. His reasoning is that it is better to take this class NOW, then discover three years down the road that you don't really want to be a teacher.

I appreciate that I was allowed into this class for a completely different reason though: There was only one other art student in my class. The remainder of the class is composed of Education majors-- who, for the most part, don't believe they have any artistic ability at all. Mr. Percy knows this, and sets this class up specifically with that mind set in mind.

So our very first project was creating name plaques for ourselves, with large markers.

When he saw mine, he got a slight frown on his face, then smiled quizzically and said, "Usually, it's my general education students that make stick people..." It wasn't until we got further into the class that I learned that the use of stick figures is representative of being stuck in a middle school level of artistic ability. But for me, at the time, there were three things going through my mind: 1) I hate using markers. 2) We had 15 minutes to create these name plaques. And 3) The only instructions given were that we could write our name however we wanted to-- but it had to tell the class something about ourselves.

I like stick people. I don't like markers. I like colors, and am a pretty happy person. And subconsciously, I was worried that I had lost my artistic abilities.

Through the next couple of weeks, the assignments became increasingly more advanced. And as they did so, I became increasingly more comfortable in my abilities.

At the same time that I was taking this class that allowed me to become more comfortable with myself, I was also signed up for Time & Space with Mr. Skaggs. I have to admit that if you had asked me before this semester if I was a 2 or 3 dimensional artist, I would have told you, hands down, that I didn't know -anything- about making things in 3-D.

Mr. Skaggs and our final in Time & Space have been on my mind today. As we were getting ready for our final, he posted 27 images from a variety of artists-- and we needed to know the artists, the images and how the elements of art and principles of design would apply to them. Now, I have to admit that I was a little worried--because this wasn't an art history class, and we hadn't spent any time going over these artists.

So when we were discussing the final and what we needed to know, he told us that it wasn't about memorizing the artist and art work-- it was about being able to identify the artist's fingerprint. What he explained to us is that every artist, except perhaps graphic artists (who have to adhere to what their clients want) has a particular way of doing their art. If you look at a single piece by an artist, you should be able to see another piece, without further information, and be able to tell that it was created by the same person.

Today, my friend Teresa posted a link to a facebook application called, "My year in Photos-2009". Now, I don't actually have it loaded on my page-- because I've got over 1000 images uploaded to FB, so it's actually kind of frustrating to get the pictures I want. I've tried twice. But in the process, I've seen several of my art pieces side by side.

And I began to think about something else that Mr. Skaggs said, throughout the course of this semester. Whenever he assigned us a piece, he told us that he wanted us to interpret it through our personal lens. To put our thumbprint on the assignment.

And I realized today, that he was asking us to develop as artists; not just as art students doing assignments.

And because of the FB image application, for the first time ever, I truly looked at my art work.

This is a piece I created back in 1995.

And this is a piece I created this semester.

This is a doodle I worked on every day in math class when I was 15.

And this is a piece I made my senior year in High School.

As is this.

While this is one of the first assigments for Mr. Percy this semester.

As was this.

Here is a drawing of a friend of mine's earrings that I did my freshman year in college.

And this is another view of the sculpture used in my Wise Ramblings image up top. The next couple are all from my senior year in high school or my freshman year in college.

The next is one of the last pieces I made before I stopped making art 7 years ago.

And the last images are things I made this semester.

(The above two are to show the 6 sides of the box that the image of above created when it was put together.)

And as I looked through the variety of media and pieces I've created in the last 17 years...

I began to see my own artistic thumbprint.

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