Drawing Through the Making Center: “Held at Sea” – Final Project
This project begun with a visit to MoMA’s exhibition entitled “The Long Run”. The class was asked to see the exhibit and create a final project that reflected our reaction to one or more of pieces in the exhibit.
I was really drawn to Philip Guston’s “Sea”, which is a lithograph piece that he published in 1980. He uses comical figures, mostly heads, to create the form of some kind of cliff or island floating at sea. I like the piece because it emits a tone that is a mixture of comical and calming. I think that there is a good balance within the piece because there is a bundle of images and details by the center of the page, and everything around it is very minimal.
Philip Guston also had a piece called “Edge of Town”, which is an oil painting he made in 1969. The colors of this piece really struck me because they muted, yet vibrant at the same time. The colors were distinct and hued enough to create depth and establish forms, but at the same time, they were muted in such a way that the colors were not overwhelming to look at when they are put together.
“Edge of Town“
I saw Sea as something that was alive, but I felt that the lack of color did its lively quality a disservice. For my final project, I wanted to give more depth and life to Sea by recreating it in clay and adding color inspired by Edge of Town. I then planned on creating a deep frame for the pieces to be displayed in like a shadow box.
Inspiration for Framing/Display
I started by recreating the figures from Sea out of clay. I shaped each one to be similar to the original, and carved out the lines on each of the pieces. For some parts of the figures, I created deeper excavations and tried to create different textures.
After leaving the clay pieces to dry and get fired, I worked on the frame in which I wanted to display the pieces. At first, I wanted to painted the ceramic pieces themselves, but did not realize that they would only finish firing on the morning before class. Because of this, I decided to paint the background where I would stick my pieces. Instead of having the figures stuck together like the original, I would have them slightly separated to show the colored background behind it, creating colored outlines in between the ceramic pieces. I created mockups of the shapes from the original image out of wood to determine the size of the frame and estimate where I wanted the colors in the background to be.
I decided to leave the sky in the image unpainted, and drew lines that followed the dark lines caused by the spalting of the wood. The fired ceramics pieces were stuck onto the frame using epoxy, as suggested by one of my other professors.
I really enjoyed making this project because the original Sea piece itself amused me. Seeing it come to life in 3D forms and with the help of color made me appreciate it even more, especially since it is a piece that was different from my personal art style. For most of my art, drawings and illustrations especially, I like having clean, straight lines, and tend to avoid the hand-drawn, comical style. I would get bothered by lack of symmetry, messy lines, and the like, but the more I looked at the piece and the more I worked on carving the lines Guston drew on the clay pieces, the more I found myself ignoring my usual habits. I think that this project was also a good way to wrap up the semester because I made use of different materials, from wood, to paint, to clay, to adhesives; which was the point of the course being one that utilizes the different shops and labs of the making center.