Alex's third quarter project

Drawing and Painting Report Card: A+

September 5, 2018

Last school year, I decided to take the Drawing and Painting class offered by Ms. Mierzwa. I was unsure whether taking this class was the right decision or not, but I decided that I’d give it a go. I didn’t used to paint that often, but I am glad that I decided to reach out of my comfort zone and try something new. This class allowed for me to delve deeper into the history behind the art movements, and use all different mediums in order to create my own original work. It was an incredible experience, and I encourage everyone to take it in the future.

When I first started this class, I was with a bunch of people that I didn’t know very well from all different grade levels. As the year went on, I started to become more comfortable with everyone and that’s when I started to create my best work. We went through a variety of different units, and each related back to art history.

Alex’s self portrait inspired by Frida Kahlo’s work

Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

One of our first projects was creating self-portraits inspired by Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was a famous Mexican artist whose work mainly consisted of self-portraits. We learned that she was married to an unfaithful husband, muralist Diego Rivera, who put her in a lot of emotional pain that was represented through her work. She also went through a lot of physical pain due to the fact that she was in a bus accident as a teenager and was diagnosed with Polio. We had to use watercolor when we created our self-portraits and I modeled mine after my school photo. Also, each of us had to put different symbols in the background representing things we were involved in. My symbols included the Boy Scout symbol, a basketball, a baseball, a paintbrush with a palette, and a camera. This project taught me a lot about creating skin tones that I never knew before. I accidentally poured the water I was using onto my painting, but Ms. Mierzwa helped me to fix it so it still came out pretty good.

A Hudson River School Painting

Alex’s rendition of a mountain he photographed in Alaska

The next project that I enjoyed was the landscape project. First, we learned about the history of the Hudson River School that contained a select group of painters who had special rules about painting landscapes. For this project, I chose to paint a picture that I took on my trip to Alaska of a mountain reflecting onto the large pond in front of it. This was one of the first times I used acrylic paint and I learned that for water reflections everything painted needs to be kept horizontal. If kept vertical, the water reflection will look like the regular landscape and not like water.

One of my favorite projects we did in class was the Georgia O’Keeffe cropping project. In this project, I first chose my subject matter, which was my neighbor’s cat, and I then went onto Adobe Photoshop and cropped the picture so that just the cat’s eye was present. This is what I painted with watercolor in my artwork. In this project, I learned how to represent the minor details of a subject on a larger scale. I really enjoyed being able to paint the eye of the cat since it had many different colors throughout.

Oriental Poppies 1928 by Georgia O’Keefe

Inspired by O’Keefe’s work: Alex’s cat’s eye

However, my favorite piece of artwork I created was my animal zentangle for the third quarter project. In the Drawing and Painting class we have a project every quarter, which we have to complete on our own time. These projects allow more freedom for the artist to explore themselves on an individual basis. I decided that my subject matter was going to be a lion and I put a lot of work into the zentangle patterns that I used on the lion. I ended up doing most of my drawing in the car on the way to Boston for a college visit and I was happily surprised by how good it came out. This piece was actually entered by Ms. Mierzwa into the Saratoga County Fair and received an honorable mention award.

Alex’s third quarter project

Alex’s fair recognition

One of the last things I created was using an entirely different medium–clay. We began by learning about the famous painter named Vincent Van Gogh who created “Starry Night.” He used thick brushstrokes in his work in order to convey movement. First, I had to wedge the clay with my feet, which I suggest, because it is much easier and much more fun than wedging with your hands. Next, I had to form the clay into the shape of a bowl using a mold and then I drew designs on the bowl. My piece has a turtle on the bottom as well as a starfish on the inside of the bowl. I also drew ocean waves in order to represent movement. After this, I had to glaze my piece which took a very long time. It was very tedious to paint the waves, because I used four different blues and each of them needed three coats of glaze. Painting the turtle and the starfish was much easier once I had finished the waves. My piece was then put in the kiln and I got back my ceramic bowl, which came out great and is currently being used in order to store candy.

Alex’s bowl he created when working with movement

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

A side view of Alex’s bowl

The turtle on the bottom of the bowl

Finally, at the end of the year I had to do a final project that involved stippling in order to create a piece. First, we learned about the famous artist George Seurat and how he used pointillism, which is blending different colored dots together so that from a distance they blend together. Seurat also never used black in order to create any of his work. Instead, he blended different colors together in order to create black. I decided to choose a Bernese Mountain Dog as my subject matter since this is my favorite dog breed. I faintly drew this image onto my paper and then used different colored sharpies in order to create dots that made my piece complete. I used different spacings between the dots in order to represent shadows and highlights and had to use red and green in order to create the black of the Bernese Mountain Dog. This was a very time consuming project, but I am very proud of how it came out.

Alex’s Bernese inspired by Seurat’s techniques

George Seurat’s Horse and Cart, 1882-1884

All of these different pieces that I created in the Drawing and Painting class are some of the best artwork that I have done. Not only has this class allowed me to create great artwork, it has also allowed me to delve deeper into the history behind the art movements, and use a variety of different mediums that I would never have come in contact with otherwise. I was able to work with other students I hadn’t known very well before and I even formed some new friendships. When coming from a challenging and stressful first period math class, Drawing and Painting gave me the nice break I needed in order to calm down and regroup for the rest of my day. I encourage everyone to take this class, because it was a great experience for me and it allows you to forget about your stress, take a breather, and just paint.

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