Thoughts from Places: the Toledo Museum of Art

Yes, I totally took the idea of titling this blog from the vlogbrothers. They sometimes do a segment called “Thoughts from Places,” where they record what they did at a particular location and then reflect on what they had experienced.

I intend on doing the same here.

Last week, I went to the Toledo Museum of Art to check out the exhibition of Frank Stella’s Irregular Polygons. It was at this exhibition that I first came across the idea of an artist making things for the logic of it, and for utilizing their functional brains and showing it. In other words, thinking over feeling.

I had never thought about making art as a process of thinking over feeling. I was under the assumption that the arts existed to show emotions of the user. Thinking about it, though, I could maybe understand the idea of art showing the results of logical experimentation, over showing the results of spontaneity.

This is a sculpture. It freaks me the f**k out how realistic this is. My friend Ben and I thought he was actually asleep.

Sometimes art could be like a scientific experiment: you play with materials to see the outcome of it, without putting emotion into it. Or it would be more like testing an idea before making it a final image.

But when does a test become art? And why would it be called art? The common man assumption is that art is an expression of creativity, but these experiments in materials and logic seem to go against that definition. Logic is not creative, according to this idea.

In the art world, I’ve noticed, we don’t use the everyday-man definition. We, being artists, made one up.

I’m so glad I could see this original by Piet Mondrian. It’s better to see in person than in pictures.

The definition of art, to my understanding of how academia sees it, is an expression of the artist’s mind. Whether that mind be logical or emotional, that’s up to them.

Does this mean logical art wins over emotional art? Depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I say both have their pluses and minuses. Art that uses the creator’s logic can lend itself to breaking the formal rules of the art world. Art of logic doesn’t have to be representational (that is, look like something that already exists) and it doesn’t have to represent just one idea.

A Frank Stella original. I believe this was made after the Irregular Polygon series. And it’s humongous.

The cool thing about logic-based art is that it can open up the mind to play with those same principals that are being broken.

The problem is that most people don’t know what those principals are.

Not that art based in emotion answers those questions, either: they can break the rules, as well, but usually it’s done on the artist’s whim and personal expression. It wouldn’t necessarily be based on playing with formulas to stimulate their functional parts of the brain.

For the emotional artist, art exists to express ideas they feel in those moments, ideas that are based on their perceptions and feelings. Logic often doesn’t come in at all.

This piece was titled something like “City Scape”, though I feel like it looks over a harbor of boats.

As can be noted in the caption for the picture above, the artist that uses emotions willingly lets their pieces be open to interpretation for the patron. For many of them, it’s not about, “This is my idea, do not deviate from this idea.” It’s more about letting the viewer make up their own meaning.

This goes against the logical artist because the logical one makes things and just lets them be. They often don’t have some kind of emotional message to the work.

Another thing that can be noted for the logical artist is that sometimes their pieces can be functional.

This is a bank teller’s gate. The photo can’t capture it’s intense level of detail.

The bank teller’s gate, above, is a good example of this. The enormous bronze doors shown at the Carnegie Museum of Art are another.

Can logic and emotion combine into one art piece? Sure. After all, art is an expression of the artist’s mind. An art piece can be both logical and satisfy the artist’s left brain and be emotional and satisfy the right brain. Rules can be played with and emotions can be displayed.

This Grecian vase, besides being lavishly detailed, is both functional/logical and emotional.

The Greeks and Egyptians did that a lot, but especially the Greeks: they were obsessed with the Golden Ratio and mathematical formulas, so their vases and other forms of art would fit into these logical molds. But then they could be decorated with stories, which are more whimsical and emotional. In this way, Greeks satisfied both parts of their brain, the left and right side.

Personally, I always go towards the emotional art: they, more often than not have stories behind them. They can also portray the artist’s life circumstances of that moment.

This is a painting of the artist’s male lover. It has both story and tenderness to it.

Logic-based art is something I can respect, and understand a little bit, but it’s not something I would like to do. My brain is logical, sure, but that doesn’t mean I can understand the other artist’s logic.

I have no idea what this is suppose to be.

If you’ve noticed, art within the last century has been shifting from being based on emotions and stories to being based on logic and the creator’s thought processes. I don’t know if this is a bad move, but I think that can explain why I don’t understand modern art at all. There are times that I just can’t understand the artists themselves. And if you can’t understand the artist, you can’t understand the artwork they’ve made.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, sorry this entry was OBSCENELY long, but there were so many ideas I wanted to get off my chest. Keep your eyes open for another blog update in the next couple of days. ;D

Frank Stella, and My Visit to the Toledo Museum of Art.

So I just came back from a field trip with the 2 Dimensional Arts Association (or 2DAA) to the Toledo Museum of Art to see Frank Stella.

Who is Frank Stella, you may ask? If you don’t know, check out these links first:

Wikipedia Article

Artsy’s Frank Stella Page

Essentially, he’s a non-representational abstract painter who makes gigantic paintings of irregular polygons. He especially likes to play around with color and line, and most of his pieces are named after towns in New England, where he grew up.

The TMA is showing his Irregular Polygon series right now, and some of the pieces on exhibit are show below:

frank stella paintings

frank stella painting

This show is the first time that all of the pieces (I believe there are 12) were shown in the same gallery space at the same time.

These pieces are HUGE. I’m talking about ten or twelve feet high! For their time, back in the 1960s, they were the largest abstract pieces of art made.

Also, Frank Stella the man reminds me a lot of my Grandpa on my mom’s side: a little old man, down-to-earth, tired, and always talking off-topic. He’s hard of hearing too, so at the Question and Answer session at about 11 a.m., when people asked him questions, he would sometimes ask people to repeat themselves because he couldn’t hear them.

Not that he made it much easier for us in the audience to hear him. When he spoke, he had a microphone in his hand, but he’s also one of those speakers that talks with his hands. So he would gesture and talk and the microphone would be swinging away from his mouth. And he was a quiet speaker, which didn’t make it any easier. Despite that, though, he’s a good guy.

Now, do I like his work?

Sort of. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not big into abstract art, but I can admire what Mr. Stella is doing when he plays with shapes and colors. I especially admire the fact that the canvases he paints on are NOT SQUARE. They’re actually built to fit the shape that is painted on them. So something like this:

is NOT on a square canvas. It’s cut into that weird trapezoid-esque shape. Plus, like I said before, they’re enormous.

So I admire him for breaking conventional rules of art and doing his own thing.

That DOES NOT MEAN, though, that I’m going to start painting or drawing abstract images tomorrow. Just because I admire it does not mean I love it and want to incorporate some of these ideas into my work. I can safely say, though, that I feel I can understand abstract art a little better now.

If any of you are in the Toledo area, you should go! Admission into the museum is FREE (seriously) and the show is up until July.

I’m going to go for now, and enjoy my lunch and then work on my collages for class. UGH. Why can’t I go back to the museum!?

Next week I’ll be posting pictures I got from the TMA. I would post them today, but I have to get back to work.

(UPDATE 1/31/15: Nicholas from helped give some updated links and art for this post. Thank you, Nicholas!)

WARNING: Naked men.

I was thinking of what kind of April Fools’ gag to pull, but I was never any good at that stuff, so I decided to not do it.

Anyway, here are some of my naked men. There was a life drawing session held by the Computer Art Club on my campus (they are awesome!) and I was there for about an hour. Got some great stuff. :3

Also, sorry for the crappy scan quality. Some of the pencils were really light, thanks to my 2H graphite.

I’m going to try to post more often during the weekdays. Those updates will more than likely be in random spurts, but I have opinions I would like to say and things I would like to share, and this blog seems to be a great spot to do it.

In the meantime, I update my Twitter. You could check there, too, if you’re into that. :D

The Final Home Stretch…

I remember reading in a book of animation (I can’t remember the title right now) that a character’s silhouette should be distinguishable from other characters, and the gesture in the silhouette should be easy to read. I decided to test this theory by illustrating my characters above. Clow is the confident one with the expressive hand, Odinons is the dragon, and Bobby is the boy slightly slouched over.

I may do more silhouette tests, just to see.

Lately I’ve been wanting to try things in my sketchbook that I haven’t done, either for a long time or not at all. One of those things is a play of shadows in making atmosphere. And another was playing with materials besides my pencils.

So here is a sketch in charcoal.

Personally, I’m a big fan, and I want to do more.

But these sketches were, admittedly, from a couple of days ago. These past few days I’ve been making myself sick preparing for Animarathon. That’s been a nightmare and a half, but I don’t want to bitch about that too much. I WILL say:

Support your local printers. They are GROSSLY underrated, and often have better services and products than national chains *coughkinkossuckscough*.

Despite all the complaints about preparing for it, I am excited for Animarathon. Firstly, Doug Walker, aka Nostalgia Critic, is our special guest, so I’m EXCITED to meet him! I hope I get the chance to. His panel is at the same time as a portion of Artist Alley being open.

OH! I should show you some of the work I’ll have on sale:

This is the big picture. Many of the prints still need to be trimmed.

Here’s the top portion a bit closer:

Yes, I even managed to get a few Drawn Silly strips done. I was hoping to get a zine put together of all the strips, but I was having issues with formatting it for book format (mostly because I’ve never done it before. And I still don’t know how.)

And here is the bottom portion:

Some of the smaller items are buttons, bookmarks, and my mini zine about Dragons. I’ll post a page-by-page of it (most likely) next week.

The silly thing was I was expecting these prints to be about the size of an index card, but NOPE. They were full 8 inch by 10 inches, and I’m still in the process of trimming them down.

Ok, I must end here and say I must get back to work. I feel terrible because preparing for the con has taken time away from working on a short comic project I’m working on with Adam Knave. D: But I hope all this work will be worth it.

SPACE time and Animarathon!

Firstly, sorry for not updating sooner. I’ve been working on projects for Contemporary Drawing class and a comic project with Adam Knave, not to mention making art for a convention coming up.

But before this becomes a bitching post (which it won’t. I don’t like to bitch like most artists do on their blogs. It’s pretentious), I want to say that this blog will now have an update schedule: expect new posts every Friday! Occasionally I’ll posts on Sundays, but Fridays are a definite.

Ok, so I’m down in Columbus, OH for SPACE, which is an exhibition for independent comic artists. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I DO know I know two of the artists that will be there. They actually graduated from my college last year.

It’ll be surreal to see them there.

One total change of topic later…

Another convention coming up is Animarathon in Bowling Green, OH, and I have an artist Alley Table there! WOO! Now I just have to get prints ready! GAH!

But yes, I’ll be selling Index Card-sized art and some mini comics, so stop by and say hi. You can see some of the art I’m talking about here on this blog.

Ok, I need to go to bed, so I’m well-rested for the over-stimulation I will expect at SPACE. :D