Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Art and Science Go Together Like Mac N Cheese

It's true. Check out these sites on the Voyager Golden Record project:

Online color gamut tool!

Project 2: Periodic Table

An element is a chemically pure substance consisting of a single type of atom, such as oxygen, lead, or uranium. In 1869, the elements were organized according to their chemical properties and atomic number by Dmitri Mendeleev. This chart is called The Periodic Table, and has, with refinements, been in use ever since. For this assignment, we will create an illustrated Periodic Table. The illustration will be 15”x15”.

To use research and ideation techniques to develop narrative from a non-narrative point of departure; to build upon the compositional, referenced, and painting skills from Project 1; to use a near-complementary color scheme in a painting; to balance multiple formal demands with the need to create a striking image.

Chose a chemical element, and sign up for it on the posted Periodic Table. Only one person may pick a given element.

Research your element, making note of at least ten distinct facts about it. These may be from the history or folklore relating to the element, interesting physical properties, or uses and applications. To this list of ten you may add any personal associations you may have with this substance. From this list, develop a “mind map,” spinning out associations from these facts, and then building on those associations. When you have developed a rich map of associations, look for connections between concepts from different branches of the map. Make note on the map of interesting visual and narrative ideas that come out of these connections.

Ideally, you are seeking two things: a basic narrative to depict in your illustration, and at least one other thematic reference to the element. Take antimony as an example. This metalloid substance, which I’d never heard of until seeking out an obscure element to use as an example, doesn’t seem very promising, at first. It’s shiny, in a chintzy sort of way, and has a number of industrial uses: it’s used in plumbing, and matches, and flame-proofing compounds. But then I find out that it was used make kohl, the dark eye makeup favored throughout the Ancient World. Now, all sorts of narrative possibilities open up: Cleopatra being made-up before meeting Caesar; Salome dancing for the head of John the Baptist, even Johnny Depp dressing up as Jack Sparrow. Pretty much any scene from history or myth that involved a man or woman wearing eye make-up is fair game. Drawing connections between Cleopatra’s Egypt and antimony’s use in matches and flame-proofing leads me to Sekhmet, the Goddess of Fire. So, Cleopatra being made-up with kohl before meeting Caesar is my main narrative for my illustration, and images of Sekhmet (as well as some compositionally prominent braziers) addresses my secondary thematic reference to antimony.

In addition to the narrative content and at least one secondary reference, the illustration should include the atomic number of the element being depicted (in the case of antimony, this is 51).

Develop at least 25 thumbnail sketches of your idea. Each thumbnail should be a different compositional approach to the image. Select the three best compositions and draw them larger (around 4”x4’) and neater, so that you can present them to the class.

Reference: Collect the friends and props necessary to shoot good references for your illustration. As with Tableau Vivant, use the photo-shoot as an opportunity to explore and refine your composition. Bring at least ten good shots to present to the class. Additionally, collect any other photo-references you will need for your image.

Based on the feedback you receive in class on your photographed compositions, develop your drawing at the size of the final illustration. Focus on value, first and foremost. Make sure your composition translates well to the final size.


This image will be rendered in a near-complementary color scheme. Using a color wheel, determine the palette of your piece. You may use only these two colors as well as black and white. Spend some time in your sketchbook making some color swatches with these paints. Test out different proportions of colors to drive your color schemes—refer to the movie color scheme exercise. Make sure your color scheme reflects your narrative. Check to see whether you can effectively push/pull with warms and cools.


- Sketches and thumbnails can be in your sketchbook. Thumbs can be any size, but sketches must be at least 4” x “4.
- Value study drawing must true to size, 15” x 15”. Use good drawing paper like Rives BFK.
- Final will be on illustration board, 15” x 15”. It must have a 3” border on all sides, bringing your overall dimension to 18” x 18”.

When the painting is finished, flap the illustration board with a sheet of tracing paper and a sheet of cover stock.


2.9 – Tableau Vivant matted and turned in

2.14 – Periodic Table research due and presented. Gamut mask exercise due.

2.16 - Review reference, begin value study.

2.21- Value study drawing due and reviewed.

2.28- Periodic Table critique.

3.1- Turn in Periodic Table.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Golden Age Comic Book Stories

Hey guys.

If you're not aware of this blogspot, go check it out yesterday. Particularly of interest, however, is that they added hi-rez N.C. Wyeth images from his illustrations in Kidnapped.


Corrected Color Wheel

Just in case you lost your color wheel, here is a good one-- it differs slightly from the traditional color wheel in that it mathematically maps out the additive colors of light (RGB) rather than paint but the general layout is similar and it is much more true to how we perceive color; on computer screens and in general.

Pull it down here!

Figure Drawing Roundup

I'm going to try and compile a list of figure drawing sessions throughout Memphis so that you can draw all day, every day.

Tomorrow, Adam Shaw will be running a session at his studio on 2547 Broad Ave. from 7pm to whenever (usually 10, sometimes longer). $10.

On Mondays, there is the session in Butler Hall West that is free for students. 730pm-10.

On Fridays until Feb. 24th there is a session at the Flicker Street Studio, 74 Flicker Street, from 10am-12pm. $10

The University of Memphis used to run one on Tuesday nights that was free to all, but I'm unsure if they're still doing it-- I'll double-check.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Figure Drawing Generators

I think these are what John was referring to in class today. These are two websites that pull from their gathered collection of figures, and they can be organized by time, category, gender, etc.

Hope these help.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Color Value Scale

Project 1: Tableau Vivant

A term meaning “Living Picture,” the Tableau Vivant was a popular form of entertainment in Europe before photography, radio, or film. A group of models would recreate paintings, etchings, or scenes from books by posing in frozen attitudes on a stage, often with elaborate costumes, props, and lighting. Tableaux Vivants are still created at the annual “Pageant of the Masters” in Laguna Beach – a $4.1 million production featuring 40 art works recreated over a period of 2 months. For this assignment, you will create a Tableau of one work of figurative art, and use it as reference for a new illustration. The illustration will be 11”x15”.

To explore existing artistic traditions and history as a source of inspiration, to examine the role of image reference, both historical and created, in creating an illustration, to develop an immersive composition from a static one, to use warm and cool contrast in a painting.

Choose one of the artistic traditions listed below:

Chinese Scrolls
European Illuminated Manuscripts
Egyptian Painting
Greek Vase Painting
Persian Miniature Painting
Ukiyo-e Prints

Research the tradition, and find an example of it that you would like to base your piece on. You must have a high quality copy of this image, at least 3”x3”. The image may be Xeroxed or scanned from a book. A low-res JPEG is not acceptable. Put the copy in your sketchbook. Record the name and period of the piece, and, if appropriate, the artist. Write about what is occurring in the image; identify all of the characters, the environment, and any significant objects in the image. Be specific. Do as much research as possible.

Using friends or classmates, re-enact the scene from your image. You may want to arrange equivalents of the costumes, props, and setting, for instance, using a broom handle for a sword. Pay attention to the lightning of your tableau. When you are satisfied with your tableau, photograph it. The artistic traditions listed above tend towards flattened, theatrical compositions. Work against this in your photo-reference. Strive to find the point of view that will create the most interesting composition. Consider the depth of your arrangement: background, middle ground, and foreground. Present your photos in class.

Based on the feedback you receive in class on your photographed compositions, develop your drawing at the size of the final illustration. Focus primarily on value, and refining your composition.

Execute the painting utilizing the concepts of warm and cool and bring attention to certain areas (push & pull) and create the correct emotional mood. Use Titanium White, Burnt Umber, and Ultramarine Blue acrylic paints. By mixing the blue and umber paints, you will create a dark near-black color. Adjusting it with a little more blue or brown will make it cooler or warmer, respectively. Adding white will provide you with full range of warm and cool values.

When the painting is finished, mat it. The mat should have a second window for a good, clean copy of the source image. Flap the mat with a sheet of tracing paper and a sheet of cover stock.

1.19- Project 1: Tableau Vivant assigned
In class and homework: Exercise 2: Texture Matching Scavenger Hunt

1.24- Due: Tableau research, Exercise 2.
In class: Review research for Tableau Vivant
Begin thumbs, sketches for drawing

1.26- Due: Tableau reference photos.
In class: Review sketches, reference. Work on Tableau Vivant drawing.

1.31- Due: Tableau Vivant drawing
In Class: Begin painting

2.2- In Class: Exercise 3: Expression Studies

2.7- Due: Tableau Vivant critiqued.

2.9- Due: Tableau Vivant matted, flapped, labeled and turned in.