For the Burds

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SEQA 100 – a quick discussion on comic strips and comic books

Asked: “Comic strips have a larger mainstream acceptance in the United States than comic books. More people read a comic strip on a daily basis than read a comic book. They are two very different forms of storytelling, and yet they share a lot of similarities. … Does the smaller use of closure in comic strips improve their stories, or are comic books more powerful because of the extra closure that they employ? Why or why not? Do you think that non-visual closure is more powerful, or is visual closure the better way to support a story? Why or why not? Which format is a more effective means of storytelling? Is this because of closure or some other element?”

Big Nate Comic Strip (3_1_11)

I find that comparing comic strips and comic books is a bit difficult.  This is not because they are different mediums, as both are considered comics and rely on visual storytelling in addition to employing words to convey information.  A comic strip is what I consider a quick take on a topic – – a fast statement, a joke, a slice of life. A comic book is a story that delves a bit deeper because the length of the book allows for more development.  Both forms employ closure and rely on the reader/viewer to insert information between the panels, or to make connections between scenes.

Garfield-comic-stripDepending on the story one seeks to tell, a comic strip might be preferred, as people tend to want quick information, entertainment (consider the popularity of the scrolling news on CNN or the quick takes of USAToday versus the lengthier newscasts, newspaper articles, and news magazines).  The concise comic strip works with reliance on archetypal characters, universal concepts, and common knowledge. It has little space to provide scene to scene or moment to moment closure, and thus relies heavily on aspect to aspect.  As in the Garfield comic, the strange costume prompts questions about intentions.  The Lost Sock comic seeks to present a moral message, a parable, if you will.  It jumps from a statement by mom to the actions of a determined child to find purpose for a solo sock. It uses scene to scene closure and jumps through her repair/repurposing actions.

A comic book allows for the artist/writer to introduce a backstory and create an exposition before building the plot of the book and resolving the story. It has the length to employ a variety of closures which force the reader/viewer to interact with the story.  It can also vary the gutters and formatting of panels to add interest and intrigue to the art presentation.  There is the possibility of a more powerful visual experience because there is no real limit to the length of the story.  While it may convey the same concepts, jokes, statements, or slices of life as a comic strip, it can build them more completely.  One additional element a comic book might have is character dynamics – – there is time to show change.  The short “How to Read a Comic Book” starring Sesame Street characters shows how the variations of page layout add interest to the story.


Interpreting color intent

This was an assigned discussion for my second design class, Color Theory.  The goal was to find 5 images with “interesting use of color,” and to interpret how the colors help to convey the message or add emphasis to the work.

My concentration at SCAD is momentarily Sequential Art, but as that field often overlaps other disciplines, I am selecting work that is illustrative in nature and tells a story in still form. I selected triadic schemes as my color focus, as the contrast of three colors creates a beautifully strong image.

ring-around-the-rosie-ernie-barnesIn the Ring Around the Rosie by Ernie Barnes, the colors are green orange and purple. This seems to be a very common color palette, as the  Ehsan Hassani (cat) also features a purple (on the bluer spectrum) and the orange and green hues. The warmth of the orange is complemented by the cooler purple tone. Orange serves as the focal point, while the purple fades into the background in support. Ehsan-Hassani-Moghaddam-580x282The green color (depending on its temperature or amount of yellow included) seems to compete with the orange when it is brighter, but recedes in importance in darker or more blue-inclusive hues. Barnes allows the girl jumping higher in her “ring” to be centered and dominant – – perhaps showing her confidence or enthusiasm. Hassani makes the orange cat dominate his purple room, and features a green pen and drawing to showcase his momentary desire (or character’s focus).Los-cachorros-1

In Los Cachorros y el Codigo de Marco Polo, the pallet is predominantly red and blue, with yellow (and yellow-green) as accent. The room is set in red tones, while three of the characters are blue. The yellow character takes attention in his contrast from the repetition of the other two colors. The illustrator toys with the lighting of the colors to make each prominent or receding.
Carter Goodrich_NewYorker_2000-05-15_100In Carter Goodrich The New Yorker cover art, green, orange and purple are dominant. The illustrator also uses blue and pink, as though they are demonstrative of their combination (purple). Here, the green is used as a background and serves to unify, while the orange and orange-red colors take the focus. The purple-blue color is visible, but not as important in the image. It suggests that the warm red head is happy, is important, is wealthy, while her purple-hued bench-mate is envious and though regal (in success of her job), she is lacking something.
vacuumThe Captive Exile’s painting features green-blue, orange-yellow, and purple in juxtaposition. The orange sands are given prominence by volume and temperature. The violet and greenish blue vacuum are clearly the forgotten tool – shown both in the item’s burial and in it’s cooler toning.


Color Theory and Design {Spring 2016}

The goal of this course is to understand and use color as part of the artistic process.  How colors are combined, how they are used (saturation, temperature, hue) are critical to the overall appearance of a work.

I’m a big fan of color, and like my Mimi, I think I’m pretty good at pairing colors in a way that is harmonious and attractive.  Nevertheless, I don’t always follow the rules and I’m struggling with the terms.  Vocabulary jargon? Not my forte.

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Above are “color combination studies.” I like the images, but they definitely don’t perform well when in grayscale. Some of them were supposed to be at the same levels so the entire field appeared one tone grey when color was removed.

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Camouflage studies  – – wherein I take a photo from some random source – and forget to give credit –  chop the photo up, and paint around it in the hopes that my paint will meld with the colors of the original image.  Save that horrid green square (!), each came out pretty nice.

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The goal of these two digital pieces? … Well, let’s just say that I’m thankful for in-lecture examples.  I’m supposed to be showing the changes of color when in close proximity to other colors.  The amount of a color used also affects the dominance of said color (or lackthereof).  In the elephant watering hole piece, the herd is demonstrating the Bezold effect, wherein one color swapped out can alter the whole perception of the design.


The spring quarter is in full swing. I thought I’d had a bad enough time enduring the intense scrutiny of winter session… then I   caught the flu in week one of these classes and quickly discovered that there is no rest for the weary and the critiques in the courses for concentration are hard core critical.  I simply cannot catch up, keep up, polish up. I’m rocking less than 60% in week 5 and likely cannot salvage the grade. Give up? It’s the only up that seems plausible right now,  though it sets a poor example for my kids and it doesn’t bode well for my future in this course sequence.  I’m hitting the point of apathetic dispair. 

DRAW 101: Reflections Assignment

Task 1: Reflect on what you have learned in this course (think of your greatest achievements as well as some of the learning challenges you overcame) and set goals for future learning with this fresh course experience in mind (think of what skills related to drawing composition and media you wish to continue to develop in the future and how).

This course was a challenge for me – not because I am not used to drawing, but because I was not prepared to be pushed to better what I believed was my best.

In this course, I discovered the power thumbnails really have to help in the composition process. I knew from DRAW 100 that I don’t enjoy working on compositions without personal meaning; if I cannot assemble still life with objects of some significance or theme, I quickly bore of the project. What I did not realize was how many possibilities I could come up with for the same concept and that each new thumbnail presented opportunity for adjustments in composition that ultimately saved critical time and frustration in the process of completing my work.

I enjoyed working on my mimic piece of the master work. Using the grid method really assisted me in seeing the image in lines (marks) and values, rather than as a whole. It was fairly simple to create duplicate marks – – except where my master haphazardly penned them in quick, random strokes. I did, unfortunately, discover that printing the image resulted in distortion that I was oblivious to until I compared my work to the digital original. By then it was too late to repair the deep set marks I’d charcoaled into my paper.

I struggled greatly with the poster. It continues to be the hardest part of my drawing process. I don’t like dark and fight deepening my tonal values. I also have difficulty identifying the intensity of core shadows in this stage.

I failed at the reductive techniques – partially because I chose a space that lacked a true midground and background, partially because I didn’t use my understanding of atmospheric perspective to push back the structures furthest from my point of view. I definitely need to work at developed environments.

I learned to trust suggestions. Having feedback on work in progress moves the process forward and helps identify potential.

Task 2: Respond to the following statement based on what you learned and experienced in this course so far:

Process is less important than presentation. The final product is all that matters. Product is what sells, and how you arrive at that point is not important. Getting caught up in process only hinders productivity and marketability. Real artists focus on the business and not on the process. The way to create true artists is to simply encourage them to work on how to sell their final product. Clouding their minds with techniques and procedures in the name of “craftsmanship” will only hinder them.

I believe that art is a process. While a profitable artist may not always explain his/her process, there certainly were steps taken to creating the final selling piece. Artists develop techniques through trial and error – working in various mediums to see what they prefer and what produces the best results. An artist has to make critical decisions in selecting paper and mark making tools (medium) even before they begin. Then there are considerations for the size of the piece, the planned composition, and the message to be conveyed.

Presentation is important. A fantastic final piece shown without regard for background, clarity, and lighting will not be shown at its best. To market work as a product, one must be aware of potential clients’ tastes. And there are specific questions to consider: Should it be framed? Is the photograph taken of the work presenting it in accurate light? Is the piece seen in true color and resolution? If shared in a portfolio, the work should be clean and organized cohesively with other work.

I’m not sure art is really “teachable.” I learned in my Master of Education classes that students embed tasks into their process best when they have techniques or steps modeled for them and then they practice mimicking the steps in their own work. Based on this method, I would teach by showing as many techniques as possible to my students and allow them to experiment with each. I would also want to present examples of stellar work in a variety of mediums and styles. Exploring these might inspire them to delve into unfamiliar arts. Presentation techniques, then, would be best reserved for after the art has been created (unless, of course, we are referring to an installation piece where the presentation is the art.).

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