Friday, June 8, 2012

Art Revolution: Alternative Approaches for Fine Artists and Illustrators by Lisa Cyr

I read the book, The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park, and was baffled by illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline's artwork. The fascinating illustrations looked like he had combined watercolor with photography or oil painting, but the layered look or raised pictures of the human figures in the story made me wonder if he'd layered his artwork using Photoshop. And what had he used to border them? Graphite? Colored pencil? Argh... These questions really are about how digital technologies have changed the landscape of painting and I decided to jump into the canvas of 21st century approaches to creating art by reading, Art Revolution. Sometimes it felt like a trampoline and I didn't always understand what I was reading. But it was fun and I got a bonus of the author showing how artists work through creative processes in very different ways.

The beginning of the book gives a history of Modern Art that grew out of the Cubist movement before moving to specific artists and demonstrations of them creating their art. It is meant to inspire existing artists to break out from traditional methods and be innovative. I didn't always understand the demonstration pages but it was enlightening. One artist even makes her own paper! The pages abound with examples of collage, assemblage and digital art. Like a dork I downloaded it on my black and white Nook. When I went to the computer to look at the colored pictures the book had expired. I checked it out while traveling overseas from a public library in Minnesota. Talk about 21st century reading! ; )

I enjoyed the author's writing style. She's a journalist so the artist sections are full of dialogue making it less dry than many textbooks I've read in college or collage (I've been to so many schools it could inspire a large collage). Kathleen Conover explains she's inspired by patterns in nature. She takes her pieces out in subzero temperatures (she lives by Lake Superior) so that the paint freezes into ice crystals. She says, "Looking through the layers of ice is like looking into ourselves." The surface is easy see and understand but as the layers thicken and you look deeper the color deepens and blurs making the ice less easy to identify. One chapter in the beginning has quite a bit of bias as to the importance of contemporary art. It felt like the author is defending herself. I liked her voice better when she sticks to the facts and presents the artists and their works. That alone is powerful enough to make the reader go, Wow... what they are doing is really innovative. The overall tone of the book is not negative and biased - just in a few spots in the beginning.

The author writes a chapter on herself in third person that I thought was kind of funny. She talks about how brilliant her work is. I agree. And I would add that her work is really complicated. She applies a bajillion art techniques. It was nuts! I also found the chapters regarding artists who employ spatial design and architecture to their work fascinating. My dad is an architect and to see that transferred to a canvas or piece of wood is not something I've ever thought about before. The three dimensional work of these artists is inspiring.

The treat for me was reading how each artist approaches his or her work to find inspiration. Some start from chaos to order; others, order to abstraction; others, research to idea. Anyone interested in the creative process will find the multiple ways the artists described their approaches to beginning a piece of artwork revealing. The demonstration section is interesting but you need some background knowledge of techniques and mediums. I chuckled at how the author ALWAYS writes to make sure you are in a well ventilated space. Humor aside, it is truly important. Many artists have gotten sick not using proper safety measures when painting. I laugh because it reminds me of all the mistakes I made not having properly ventilated rooms when I first started to paint. Yes, I tend to learn things the hard way.

I didn't really have my questions answered but I do know that Bagram Ibatoulline is doing innovative illustrations similar to those found in this book. I do think that children's illustrations are going to be more literal versus abstract but they use the techniques mentioned in this book and I found that helpful. I thought of a few books I've seen lately such as Grumpy Bird, by Jeremy Tankard, and Garmann's Summer, by Stion Hole, that employ digital technology in their illustrations. I'll keep collecting knowledge and maybe someday I'll be able to write about this topic in an intelligent matter. Until then, I'll work on ordering the chaos in my brain. Not an easy task.

4 out of 5 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment