Human Nature, 2015
oil and marker on canvas
This painting represents Modernism. The colors used in this piece each have separate meanings. The green is envy/hate/jealousy/greed, the gold portrays wealth. The bright red of the blood represents love and passion while the dark red of the heart serves as pain and suffering.
I started out thinking about architecture because that is something I have been interested in for a while. I wanted to make a painting with two buildings separated by a street. I would have one building be in the style of and representative of the 1930s and the other of the present day. I was going to use a building from the time period (like the chrysler building) and make a model out of it in clay to have a more three dimensional idea if it for when I made it in paint. I would then have picked and used one of the art styles from then and used it to paint the building and painted the building from today with a style from more recent times.
This then evolved into another idea. After speaking with the teachers, I decided to try to make my idea less literal and more figurative. I went through many stages and passed over many different ideas. The second after the first idea was having one building and having different floors represent different time periods. But I still thought that this was too literal. So I decided to scrap the building/architecture idea and move on to something a little bit more raw and emotional. I thought about the era and how I would be able to represent that in a way that would express emotion and also portray the 30s in an effective way. I came up with the idea of a dog, foaming at the mouth and ravenous, biting into a heart. The dog would represent the 1930s and the Depression and it would be biting into and harming the heart which would be the American people. I really liked this idea but then became aware of the fact that I can’t really draw dogs, much less paint them. So I decided to keep the heart but get rid of the dog. I ended up with a similar design to what is on the canvas now. I came up with the idea of having a heart in the middle of a canvas bleeding out. There would be hands reaching out to the heart to hurt it. I ended up only slightly modifying this idea to make it what it is today. But then I had to face the problem of the style to use. I wanted to use a similar painting style as one of the famous artists of the time period, so I looked at a lot of the famous artists, mainly painters, from the 30s. I decided on Georgia O’Keeffe because I had already studied her in a prior project, but also because I liked the way that she shaded and modified the proportions of certain objects to make them seem a little bit surrealist.
At this point, I had found my painter, but still had not found the materials to use. Georgia OKeeffe typically used pastels or charcoal or pencils. I already knew that I wanted to paint something since I was not too familiar with charcoal or pastels and have used pencils a lot before. I used oil paints for an art project in eighth grade, so I knew that I didn’t really want to use those since they take a long time to dry. I decided to use acrylic paints instead.
Next on the list of decisions I had to find out what I wanted to paint on. I knew that making a custom sized canvas would require some practice and would also be quite expensive. So I tried to look for paper that would be thicker and large as well because I knew that I was going to paint something quite large. I couldn’t really find what I wanted to I went back to looking for canvases. I had to look around a little bit in order to find a canvas in the size and shape that I wanted since I obviously wasn’t going to make my own but finally found a square canvas which was 20×20, similar to the size I wanted (which would have been slightly larger).
The paint wasn’t really a problem because I knew that I had some acrylic paints which I had inherited from my uncle. But I did not know what colors I wanted to use. I knew that I wanted to make the coloration mean something. So I looked online for the significance of colors and emotions typically provoked with certain hues. I had also already modified my design to my current one (after approximately 10 different sketches of basically the same thing) and knew that I wanted to draw hands with claws and gears and all the other stuff. After some research I found that purple (the background) was typically representing money. I found that green (that hands) was representative of envy and hate and jealousy, gold was money, and red could represent love or pain and passion.
I think that I exceeded my own expectations. I was able to use acrylic paint, a totally new medium for me, and paint hands (which are actually very challenging to do accurately). I am proud of the hands and of the consistency of the purple because I had to mix a whole other batch of paint each time I went over anything since I did not have purple paint. I developed a liking for painting, especially on canvas, which I think could possibly lead to a new hobby. I learned that I can achieve a whole lot when I put the effort and time in. Even things that are work can be considered fun and that I might like painting a lot more than I tell myself I may.
My painting is far from the design which I first started with. I represented modernism in a lot of aspects of my piece. The heart in my piece is representative of humans. The hands represent the evil in humans. The blood represents the pain and suffering which people endured. The gold specks in the blood represent the money lost during the great depression and the hands represent corruption. The stock market crashed because of the greed and thirst that people had with their money. They wanted a lot more than they could afford. The gears on the heart represent the new inventions of the time which were made to help people with their daily lives and how this new technology was starting to take over the jobs that were originally meant for people (which is why it is taking over the heart which represents humans).
My project really stemmed from the inspiration from the MoMA trip and from the group modernism project I did on art with Emma and Joey. I think that the modernist era was a time of great change which transformed America and caused people to be a lot more careful and experimental as well.
Overall, this project was filled with evolution and research. I enjoyed it because of how my interests were developed into it.