Saturday, December 13, 2008

TENSION PORTFOLIO

Allison's solarplate relief.
Rob's intaglio, relief, collagraph.
Michelle's linocut.
Kristie's linocut hand colored.
Krystal's linocut.
Julie's drypoint mezzotint.
Jay's linocut.
Brian's solarplate relief.
Brent silkscreen and relief.
Anthony's linocut.
Alex's linocut.


Allison raised the question in the previous post about perhaps extending the discussion of the Tension prints.  Here are shots of each one, and since some of you didn't get an opportunity to talk about your motivations and ideas concerning these images, maybe you could continue the dialogue here.

13 comments:

alison said...

Is this all of them?

brian h. jones said...

No, it's not, which I just noticed because of your question. There were all loaded, but apparently not all uploaded. I'll get the rest tomorrow when I get to campus. Who's missing besides Alison?

alison said...

Thanks, Brian. I was starting to wonder... maybe there was nothing else to be said about my work? maybe I was a little too gabby in the critiques? :D

I hope others will start speaking up soon with HONEST feedback. I had an interesting conversation with my boss the other day about how artists have to have thick skin. He was surprised to hear that--I think because of the "sensitive artist" stereotype.

I'll bet that (senstivity) is an underlying personality trait for many of us, but, surely, if we are to be successful in this business we can't let that prevent us from listening to sincere responses to our work, good or bad. I believe criticism, while it can be painful initially, is necessary and so valuable to our growth as artists and, ultimately, as human beings. As the saying goes, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

That being said, I would truly appreciate anyone's honest feedback (good, bad or ugly) on my work too.

I hope to hear from some of you who haven't spoken much about your work thus far. For instance, I'm curious about the story behind Krystle's tension imagery. And Alex, is yours about the skin tension (tautness) required for shaving a man's face? Or is it the whole experience in general? Or something else?

Brian, maybe it would be helpful to send out an e-mail letting everyone know that this discussion is going on? Maybe some people have stopped checking this blog since the semester is over.

O.k., I'll shut up now.

brian h. jones said...

All the images are now on. for some unknown reason, or at least unknown to me, the blogspot program didn't like me putting so many images on one post, I had to work it in by making the image a smaller file size.

I will send an email to everyone so they'll stop by and talk about their work.

brian h. jones said...

My print is a solar print, printed with French Black and a blended relief roll on top. What I wanted was an expression of tension, the one usually associated with a furrowed brow, not so much to "illustrate" tension, but, but to actually express it. As time was ticking down on the semester and the end in sight, I knew there were many things that I had to address, the tension was getting palpable. so I shot the expression, loaded it into the computer, and reduced it down to four different values. The blended relief roll was used to further emphasize the eyes with the furrowed brow lurking somewhere in the drarker part of that blend. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Rob said...

Mine's actually a lino relief (the fist) with a reduction intaglio/relief on top (printed 1st with a transparent blue wiped in and orange rolled on top, re-etched and printed with a dark green (just mixed the previous two colors) as a relief only) followed by another zinc plate etched relief in a different blue. No collagraph on this one.. As I mentioned in the critique it has no specific story or dialogue behind its creation whereas my initial piece did. For that I apologize, but again this was a challenge to produce a complex (process wise) image in a short period of time.

From my experiences critiques turn out to be more of an exercise in pulling teeth without hurting the patient rather than intellectual discussions of ones work. That raises a few questions (for me). Why are we students unable to speak about what we produce? Are we just so insecure with what we bring to the table or do we really not have any basis of understanding about what we're actually producing to say anything? Are we thinking about what we do? Are we trying to expand ourselves artistically &... creatively? Or are we just treating these studio classes as "bird courses" where simply showing up (perhaps just every now and then) and “trying” warrants a passing grade. Obviously there's a lack of effort by the majority of students (not all...).

This discussion not only pertains to our class but to ALL fine arts classes I‘ve taken part in. The majority of my criticism stems from participation in other critiques where I naively expected to play a part in a true intellectually biased discussion. Instead it was more of the same with regards to effort applied to work produced and knowledge about said work. I have this feeling that everyone is on the same agenda, that is, produce mediocre work until the spring semester of their graduating year when they "try" to produce a body of work that exemplifies their skills in a chosen area. Why wait? Why can't we put in the effort now in every class (not just your concentration) and try to be a professional artist? Maybe what I consider effort differs from everyone else? That would be unfortunate. What's even more unfortunate is when you're unable to explain how and why you made a piece of art.

To put it plainly: we all need to grow up and really consider where we are and what we're doing. This is college and we're all adults. Art is a very competitive field. We quite literally put ourselves up for everyone to see and critique all the time. That's just the nature of the business. In order to be successful in this field and make a living (in whatever capacity you choose) you need to not only have the skill but the dialogue and understanding of what you did, why you did it, and what it means. Knowledge of your art will not only make creating art easier and more successful it will help break the ice when faced with a situation such as being in a critique. We can't be passive bodies that merely react in a half ass manner to the given assignment... Right before it's due.

Revisiting the topic of creativity that was laid upon me (kind of abruptly) during the final BFA critique: I think I’m learning that my criticisms and praises of other students work with respect to this creative process has less to do with the content, media, or specific process employed to produce the final product but more with the obvious thought process and knowledge base or lack there of that’s evident when viewing the work. It should not be construed that a specific type of art is better or more successful. Creativity exists in everything we do and make as artists. The challenge is to push the boundaries of what we create and thus the boundaries, and by virtue of its inherent connection, the meaning of the word creativity. For artist seeking a degree in Fine Art (be it a BA or BFA) creativity means to think outside the box and not be content to reproduce the same object that’s been done a thousand times before. This is not to say that making a simple hand thrown ceramic cup, a fictitious movie poster, figure drawing, etc. does not employ a creative thought process or artistic ability. These are, in part, the things that serve as a basis for great contemporary art. When these items are placed in front of an audience and portrayed as an attempt to produce modern/contemporary art (as we SHOULD be doing) creativity no longer holds merit.

All these criticisms aren’t meant for everyone nor are they specifically geared towards this class. The degree into which you read and understand the criticism should be different. Unfortunately those that deserve the harshest have probably checked out for the semester and aren’t even contemplating their next artistic move, nor will they until told to do so... If you’re confident in your methods you can turn a def ear to this. Sadly until everyone’s on the same page it’ll be difficult to obtain anything significant from a critique…

alison said...

Wow, Rob! Thanks for saying some things that needed to be said. Brutal honesty--I love it! I just hope you're not preaching mostly to the choir. Not that I think I'M in the choir. I definitely believe there were things in your comments (and also from this past semester in general) that I can learn from as much as any other student/artist can.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I learned this semester is what my limitations are. Not so much as a creative being, but more as a HUMAN being. One person can only do so much. I took 3 studios in addition to having a job and raising a child on my own (both physically and financially most of the time).

Now, please understand I am not the kind of person who believes I should be rewarded for poor performance, regardless of mitigating circumstances. The fact that I simply bit off more than I could chew this semester should not exempt me from criticism. If I produce a bad piece of work I know I deserve a grade that reflects the quality of my work. When I mention that my load of responsibilities is heavy I don't say so with the expectation that I should be coddled or treated any differently than another student. I guess maybe it's an attempt to convey my embarrassment for producing a sub-par piece of work, when I know that I am capable of producing higher quality work, when the work I've done does not reflect my full potential and standards/work ethic. A lot of the time I am well aware when my work is stinky and I get mad at myself when I know I could have done better but didn't for whatever reason.

Re: artists/students not talking about their work. Yeah, what's up with that? I feel like I'm always chomping at the bit to talk about my work, but often try to hold myself back as much as possible because I don't want to monopolize the conversation. I still feel like I talk too much in crtiques, but maybe if others would speak up and say something of significance other than "I like it" maybe I'd feel more compelled to shut up and listen. Maybe not. Maybe I do talk too much.

Anyone else out there??? Please, speak up, if you can, about any of the aforementioned topics. Even though class is over, these things are still worth talking about, I think.

Brian, in your tension piece, how many plates did you use? Was it all relief? In looking at your actual print on paper I noticed a slight embossing. Was intaglio part of your process? Just curious. I really enjoyed working with the solar plate and would like to try other things with it in the future.

Rob, I am disappointed that we didn't get the original image("Repression," is it?) that you created for the portfolio. How would a fellow student go about obtaining said piece? Do tell.

brian h. jones said...

You all are having the kind of dialogue that we should all be having as much as possible, this is great stuff. My plate is a solar plate, inked and wiped as an intaglio with a transparent blended relief roll. The embossing is the solar plate, so it's essentially an intaglio print, only one plate and one time through the press.

Some of the thoughts that are being expressed here are some of the things that I was beginning to doubt existed in the current generation of art students. When I talk to friends who teach in other art programs around the county, they express the same kinds of frustrations about students not talking about their work and when in critiques rarely offer constructive criticism to others. Maybe for fear of being viewed as mean, or fear of being alienated, or fear of being considered an outcast.....what ever it is, I believe it's fear-based.

This semester has provided for me two epiphanies, one about my approach to teaching and the other about how students learn. I am looking at ways to deal with both next semester. The way I teach has got to change, because students don't seem to be learning. Learning in the creative arts means learning how to be creative, how to talk about creativity, how to articulate ideas, motivations, and inspirations, and when any of those features get criticized as an impetus for growth, how to take that information and turn it into a positive. I've been too 'easy' when I should have been otherwise, rather than saying "this is not acceptable", I've been evaluating students based on the creative choices they make and then the degree of conviction they demonstrate to actualize that 'what' of that choice.

I think there needs to be a return the basics of ideational fluency, squeezing twenty ideas out of one concept. We'll see.

I think that many students today use ideas appropriated from others. I even experienced that with the art car, it's easier to get on line and find a 'solution' to a creative problem instead of generating possible solutions that have been filtered through an individuals unique experiences and resulting perceptions. I'd much rather see a student create a solution that might be weak and be able to talk about how they got there than to see some knock-your-socks-off solution that may have come from a stock photo site on the web and that can't be discussed because they don't know how to talk about it. It happens far too many times.

alison said...

I wonder... can creativity really be taught? Maybe that's part of the problem?

In my observations, particularly of graphic designers, it seems there are two major issues of concern. That is, creativity and technical skills. Some students/designers/artists focus primarily on skills and look to the internet, etc. to provide the creativity. Others are oozing with creativity but struggle with the technical skills (the "inside the box" part) through which to articulate their creative ideas. That's me, which is why I made the love/hate comments in our final crit. It was my way of expressing the frustration I experience in trying to marry the overwhelming number of creative ideas in my head with a limited repertoire of technical skills. Then there is the small handful of individuals who are blessed with a healthy balance of both. Those, I'll bet, are the ones who will ultimately have the greatest artistic success.

In my humble opinion :) art students should come to school with at least the ability to think creatively and the willingness to work as hard as they need to in order to learn the skills it takes to successfully express their creativity.

Skills can always be taught. I'm not so sure about creativity. Creativity comes from within a person's soul. I don't think it's the professor's job to make a person into a creative being. You can help to awaken a dormant creative spirit that already exists, but you could really drive yourself crazy trying to turn someone into something they're not. I have been down that road. It is a DEAD END. That's actually what my Tension piece is about.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

brian h. jones said...

I think creativity can be taught as a problem solving process. That is, after all, what creativity is, the ability to solve creative problems. Of course there is an infinite range of solutions to most creative problems, and there are as many weak solutions as there are strong ones, but that, too, is part of the process. I'm not quite sure that can be taught to everyone, but it can be to those who are open to thinking differently than they have before; it can be to those who are willing to confront their fears, the ones that block their creativity; it can be to those who have the confidence and belief in their ability to succeed; it can be to those who are willing to look at and gain control of their habits; it can to those who are willing to take their discontent and make it constructive rather than destructive. I think it can be taught as a process, like all of the other processes we embrace in the visual arts, or at least I'm going to give it a shot next semester in my two drawing classes.

alison said...

I see. Yes, that makes sense. When you define it that way (creativity as a problem solving process). Probably all of us could benefit from the kind of guidance you are proposing.

Jay said...

My ideas on the tension project was to take a picture that had all the potential to be humorous or cute and turn it into something disquieting. I had hoped that the subject matter and the style it was drawn in would pull against each other to help create the tension in the work. I thought the "Bloons" sign added to the element of silliness and cartoonishness (is that even a word?) that opposes the image of the sad clown.
For the background, I chose to use diagonal cuts to add to to the tension of the piece.
As for my work on the project, I think nothing personified tension more than the approaching deadline and the worry that something would unexpectedly go wrong before I could get it finished.

brian h. jones said...

That's a good explanation, Jay, clearly well considered. I think it succeeds on all those levels, but sometimes it hard to get past "cartoonishness" in an image because of all the associations we bring into the image as viewers. Sometimes the narration gets skewed in the intended humor. Hope your spring semester goes well.