It is true what they say about never truly see something until you draw it. Who knew chickens looked so fierce?! And who knew there were so many sizes and colors of eggs? A while back I took pictures of some chickens that belong to a friend of mine. I thought they might make good […]
Inspired by Fay’s pristine passion for art, I decided to post my own artworks that I had created for my IGCSE portfolio.
Metamorphosis is a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. I have chosen this topic because I am interested in the combination of beautiful, ordinary animals into eccentric, celestial bodies. What really inspired me was the Indian deities and idols my family worships. There are roughly 330 million Indian deities and a fraction of them are morphed. What really got me to thinking was that up till now whatever humans have dreamt, they have created. What if it comes to a point where we try to create gods? I think all pandemonium will break loose and so, my aim is to demonstrate what would happen if one combined an animal’s DNA with another. My paintings explore animal’s bodies, their anatomy, their traits and further illustrate how they might look after being modified genetically.
Sarah DeRemer and Alexis Diaz are some of the artists that have inspired and helped me to refine and develop my theme. Their ability to manipulate mediums and their compositional skills have really influenced and helped me to enhance my own works as well. I also discovered my topic while experimenting with mediums. By mixing and merging two or more mediums, I came across startling effects that further reiterated my theme. So, media exploration is one of the critical parts of my artworks, as they too exhibit visual representations of my topic.
Artists 1 – Amy Ross
The first artist I have chosen to study and focus on is Amy Ross because she is extremely creative, her ideas are divergent, and her works link with my own theme, metamorphosis.
Amy Ross’ works are different, peculiar and comprise of different animals meticulously morphed together. She arranges her figures in a way that catches our attention immediately. Another striking feature of her paintings is that she doesn’t use a wide range of techniques in her paintings. This method ensures that the viewer is not distracted by anything else within the painting and also guarantees that they are thinking of the themes and big ideas behind the painting. I will focus on Amy Ross’ compositional skills so I can incorporate that in my own work because I want my painting’s viewers to focus on the theme that I’m approaching. I will also focus on how she combines and morphs animals because she is extremely subtle and smooth with it.
Amy Ross’ Turkey Amanita was made in the 21st century in Boston, Massachusetts. The medium used for execution is watercolors.
At the center of the painting lies a red Amanita mushroom. From the left-hand corner of the mushroom, a turkey’s head is protruding out. Only a side of its face can be seen. An inch above that, there is another turkey. One can see its neck and again, a side profile of its face. A few centimeters above that, another turkey’s head and neck is painted. It looks as if it turning its head to look at the painting’s viewer. The mushroom has morphed only by a fraction into three turkeys’ heads and necks. Also, there are few white blemishes that are scattered around the mushroom. These spots extend to the turkeys’ necks.
The colors in Ross’ watercolors are subdued and inconspicuous and she has used only one medium. I think she has deliberately chosen such mellow colors so as not to divert our attention from the focus of her painting, the metamorphosis of the mushroom and turkeys. Her figures are delicately painted, with soft and subtle strokes on a soft white paper and the precision of its rendering gives it scientific value, like in traditional botanical illustrations. The use of watercolors adds freshness and earthiness to the painting. One can imagine the mushroom lying on the forest floor waiting to be picked. Yet this is completely contradicted by the turkeys jutting out of the mushroom.
After admiring the mushroom, our eyes travel to the overcrowded turkeys at the far left-hand corner of the mushroom. By keeping the birds at the edge of the mushroom, Amy Ross has been able to slowly draw our attention to it. The turkeys force the painting into a state of imbalance because an asymmetry is produced. As a result, the viewer enters a state of discomfort. The asymmetry communicates unevenness and risk and evokes a sense of uneasiness. Secondly, the focus of the piece is not grounded by shadows or the like. This further invokes a feeling of ambiguity and endlessness. All of this put together, the viewer is edgy and uncomfortable.
Amy Ross has been successful in conveying her theme, which is: Genetic engineering and mutation gone awry. She has been fruitful in creating a different mood with watercolors. The abnormal figure stands out because it is discreetly surrounded by empty space known as negative space. Moreover, the viewer is confused and baffled by the eccentricity of the body. I think the emphasis seems to be more on the composition of the painting than the techniques gone into making it. I think she has deliberately left us with unease and edge because she wants us to understand the consequences of genetic engineering and it is evident that the hybrids produced are often absurd and produce discomfort.
Replicating her style, I drew a turtle. I used watercolors for the background, but the main subject of the drawing was sketched on tracing paper. I used the washing technique in order to mimic Ross’ style. I attempted to shade and bring out the tones in each individual square on the tortoise’s shell. I was able to emphasize and bring out only the head of the tortoise by using different thicknesses of lines. This also allowed me to demonstrate a range of tones.
Artist 2 – La Pandilla
Puerto Rico-based artists, La Pandilla, a pseudonym for Alexis Diaz, produced this street art mural in the Wynwood Arts District in Miami in 2012. The medium used for execution is inks.
The animals are painted using small and precise paintbrush strokes to deliver a highly detailed piece. Diaz also creates detailed textures of the different skins of the various animals with the help of lines. The elephant skin is wrinkled, distinct and elaborate so that one can immediately identify it. The animals are painted using ink and are simply kept black and white with a tinge of blue and no hint of any other color. I think La Pandilla has deliberately done this so that we’re not distracted by the subject matter or overwhelmed by color. His work lives in this Goldilocks zone of being intricate in detail and being conceptually simple which allows viewers to focus on the most important aspect of their work, the metamorphoses.
The animals are so incredibly intricate and detailed that but at the same time the absurd metamorphoses seem comical and surreal. Extraordinarily, its complexity and intricacy are what makes it all the more unrealistic. Our brains cannot absorb the fastidiousness and the accuracy with which it is painted so naturally, we are intrigued by it.
I think it has a surrealistic concept because of the bright, monochromatic background. The bright red of the background produces excitement and warmth. Red has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. It also generates a strong visual impact. But the bright, intense red is contradicted by the pale blue of the animals. I think Diaz has used blue to express a sense of calmness and the translucency is essentially soothing. It also allows the blue animals pop out from the red background Consequently, blue is serene and mentally calming compared to the bright red.
I think Alexis Diaz has been successful in catching our eyes with the intricacy and complexity of the painting. The textures created using lines, the contrasting values of blue and red make a simple composition stand out and grab attention. The emphasis seems to be more on the use of techniques rather than the theme of the composition. But even the use of a wide variety of textures is aesthetically pleasing.
This is my attempt at mimicking his style with my own composition.
Here is another one. I solely focused on the shading techniques for this one.
Artist 3 – Gond
The style I have chosen to study and focus on is Gond. The Gonds are among the largest tribes in Central India, numbering about 4 million. Gond artists predominantly focus on illustrating folk tales and culture, and thus story-telling is a strong element of every painting. After producing a small reproduction, I had familiarised myself with the Gond techniques and designs. Many Gonda artists drew morphed animals. They used bright colours to separate the forms yet there was certain sense of balance and symmetry in the patterns used. Even with the mismatched limbs, the form was cohesive. I wanted to incorporate that in my painting. I used bright colours and different patterns to create contrasting textures. I kept the background plain in an attempt to make the structure pop out. I tried to merge and mix some of the hues to bring the animal parts together. I found that the dots were similar to the works of the Aborigini and pointillism.
This is my own interpretation of Gond style:
In these pieces, I combine my theme with all the artist’s styles that I have studied.
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Thanks so much for all the positive feedback on my new drawings! There's always a mix of both excitement and apprehension when I put new work out into the world, and Instagram has made it much more fun and rewarding for me. So, thank you all! I'm going to have a show of my new work next weekend in Boston's South End! I'll post details in the coming days. In the meantime, here's a new drawing of a fox spirit. This guy is my all-time favorite. . . . #amyross #foxspirit #fox #foxesofinstagram #foxart #charcoaldrawing #graphitedrawing #figuredrawing #spiritanimal
La Pandilla (Aka Alexis Diaz)
Check out my other article on art and it’s importance in today’s day and age: Power of Art