Another artist I have taken inspiration from is Christopher Wool, who is a contemporary American painter.
Best known for his paintings with large stenciled letterforms, the bold, black strokes of Wool’s text is contrasted against white backgrounds for maximum visual impact. (Christopher Wool | Artnet).
Christopher Wool, like Bob and Roberta Smith, also includes words and letterforms in his art practice. This quote about his work welcomes the importance of contrast. When people write in their day-to-day lives they normally have white paper with either black or blue ink, as this gives a bold and easy to read piece of writing, due to the contrasts in colours. Christopher Wool’s large scale lettered artworks are made of black bold letters against a white background. In my own practice I have been trying to also get some good contrasts in colours to make sure the writing stands out. I have been recently experimenting with different coloured backgrounds, such as red, blue, purple and pink, and then writing over them using white acrylic. I feel these contrasts work well to get a statement across to the audience as you wouldn’t be able to miss them. I also plan to maybe try the opposite and instead do some similar coloured writing to the background they are on and see what difference it makes and if people are still likely to read them or not. I have also been using contrasting colours in my printmaking to give a nice pleasant overall feel to the prints. I am also trying to keep some light and dark layers to make the words stand out.
Words run together and breaks arrive at the edges of the canvas, bearing often inscrutable phrases such as “SELL THE HOUSE SELL THE CAR SELL THE KIDS”. (Christopher Wool | Artnet).
Another area I have taken inspiration from Christopher Wool is the way he cuts words in half if they reach the edge of a page. I have also found this a successful way to work. It means the letters fill more of the canvas making the piece aesthetically more pleasing and also makes the overall composition better as people may have to look harder to see what the words say.
Christopher Wool uses statements that are often impossible to understand or interpret. I like this way of working because the viewers can then take what they want from it. This is much like my “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE” piece which won’t make sense to anyone other than other students on my course who know what I am doing my work about.
As well as some more abstract screen prints, Christopher Wool also has done some pieces similar to his large scale stenciled paintings of lettering. An example of this is his piece ‘Prankster’. I think the technique of screen printing is effective for this way of working as you can make stencils by hand and then get the design made into a screen. You can then print the design more than once to make multiples. There are also possibilities of adding to the screen and printing layers on top and changing the way it works.
As well as making stencils for screen prints, Christopher has also used spray paint with stencils which is another technique I could try. Wool normally uses capital letters for his stencilled designs, I have been also using capital letters quite a lot recently but because I enjoy calligraphy I also like doing some lower case lettering as you can make the words flow together well.
“Christopher Wool | Artnet”. Artnet.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Apr. 2017.
An artist who I have been inspired by recently in my practice is Bob and Roberta Smith.
The piece I did which I was most influenced by Bob and Roberta Smith was the piece I featured in my last blog post. The piece is painted in acrylic onto cardboard and has a three coloured background. When I began this piece I didn’t know what the final outcome would look like, I then began to write whatever came to me, which at the time was simply, “I don’t know what to write”. I then carried on with some ideas of what I could write in the future. Because my studio practice at that time was based mainly around pizza one of the ideas included “pizza toppings”. This piece has a red, blue and purple background with white lettering. The letters are in capitals and I made sure they were all even and used one brush width as I wrote the words. I also chose to have the words not fit the lines perfectly which left some of the words cut in half. This was linking the piece also to Christopher Wool, another artist I have been inspired by recently.
Much of Bob and Roberta Smith’s work consists of political statements, and he aims to make a point with every piece he creates. With my work I am writing words which relate to me in someway but I don’t want to make any political statements or write about anything in particular as I am more interested in the process of writing each letter. This is why I decided to make a time lapse video of me writing onto a white board which showed me writing each word and also I am able to show how I didn’t plan the piece beforehand as to where each word was going to be written. I had some words written in a small A5 sketchbook which is a book I practice my calligraphy in and so I took some of the words from there. I also thought of a lot of the words on the spot before writing them.
Bob and Roberta Smith wants to get his thoughts and ideas out into the world and does this through his paintings, often large scale. As you can see from the previous piece I spoke about I have also been using painting as a technique, but I have also been experimenting with screen printing, hand lettering using pens and pencils and I am also interested in trying some digitally drawn words on my iPad and laser cutting them.
One of Bob and Roberta Smith’s best known pieces is Letter to Michael Gove’ (2011). This piece was done mainly for one person: Michael Gove. And it raised his concerns about how art is an important part of society, especially in schools. Even though he wrote this mainly for one person, it is still effective as a piece of art in its own right. I think having a big area filled with text is quite powerful and something I would like to try in the future.
I think the significance of Bob and Roberta Smith’s work is that he gets his opinions out there for people to see. Even if people don’t agree with some of the statements he makes they can still enjoy his work as an art form. For my practice I think the significance is building a portfolio of myself by writing different words in different styles and techniques. If I choose to cover a wall for my degree show with words and signs I have been making, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to read every word. This links to my screen prints where I have been building up layers on top of each other, some of the first layers are hardly visible and so the words are no longer there to be able to read them, but they are still there as an indexical trace.
My dissertation was titled: Roles of drawing relating to Claes Oldenburg, Christo and Sol LeWitt.
“Drawing is fundamental to and the core of the artists’ and designers’ work. It is the means by which artists learn to see and understand the world in the first place. Later, drawing becomes their primary method of research, designing, and communicating ideas to others. The simple materials required allow freedom, spontaneity, and the possibility of immediate and catalyst for the most artists’ and designers’ ideas and work”. (Micklewright, 2005, p.6).
Through my dissertation I was exploring how drawing plays an important part for most artists through their practice. One of the biggest ways in which it does this is through planning. By doing preparatory drawings the artists can begin to see what a final piece will look like and also will allow them to easily communicate an idea. This often links to their sketchbooks as this is normally a place where people who do art store drawings which are almost like practice runs before a final piece.
The idea of drawing being a way to plan links to my personal practice perfectly. Some of the pieces I do are more spontaneous and so some don’t have any plans beforehand, but I often test techniques and layout in my sketchbook before doing a large version of it. This means I can decide things like what composition will work best for the particular art work, what size, and what medium would be best to use. As I am becoming more and more interested in sign writing and looking into it as a possible profession after university, this way of using drawing will help me greatly. Hand lettering needs a lot of planning before hand so that the letters all fit onto the space allowed and also that the font is correct and the layout of words works aesthetically. It is also a big part of being able to communicate with your buyers as they can get an idea of what you plan to do and then put their own input into the design stage before going ahead and painting a sign.
I chose to look at Claes Oldenburg as part of my dissertation as he did work based on the everyday and so I first looked at him for my studio practice. The main piece I focused upon was his sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985-8) as he had many preparatory drawings for this piece. Another way in which he used drawing was for documentation as there are drawings he has done of his sculpture after the piece was made, including View of Spoonbridge and Cherry, with Sailboat and Skater (1988).
Oldenburg, Claes (1985-1988) Spoonbridge and Cherry,
Oldenburg, Claes (1988) View of Spoonbridge and Cherry, with Sailboat and Skater, [pastel, paper collage on paper] 33.5 x 20 inches
Micklewright, K. (2005) Drawing; mastering the language of visual expression. London: Laurence King.
To begin looking at my current work in a more critical way I am going to briefly reflect back to level 5 to analyse how my recent works links back to then and also how it has moved on from that point.
In level 5 I was looking at the theme of the everyday. To respond to this is my work I made large scale, mainly charcoal, drawings of very ordinary objects. These objects included: water bottles, my bag, scissors, a ballpoint pen and my most used subject matter: keys. These drawings were done on large pieces of paper or wallpaper which I left unframed which I think added to the theme of the everyday. I also left the paper in the shape that I first cut it into before drawing onto them, even if the edges weren’t perfectly straight. This gave the pieces interesting over all shapes. It also meant that you could see how I was responding to the edge of the paper whilst drawing, I didn’t want to lose this by trimming it down.
By drawing these very normal objects large scale they suddenly became quite abnormal and interesting. Because of the scale it then forced the viewer to look at the objects, and see them in more detail to what they would be used to. I also presented these drawings along a corridor and so the viewer was very close to the pieces, not allowing them to step back. I was exploring the role of scale, the scale made the drawings quite powerful and would catch the audience’s eye, especially with the bold contrast of light and dark from the chalk and charcoal. I think the drawing which was most successful was of my keys. Keys are an object most people use day-to-day but never study closely. By drawing them multiple times I began to see lots of interesting shapes and shadows on the keys. All of the scratches on the keys and key rings could also tell a story as they are indexical traces.
An artist who I looked at as part of my studio practice and dissertation was Claes Oldenburg who I will go into more detail in my next blog post.
My current work in studio practice is also based on the everyday and so I have taken inspiration from my previous year at uni but changed the way I am portraying it. This semester I have begun using hand lettering as my main way to work. This includes screen prints, hand painted letters and hand written words. The words I am choosing to write all link to me in some way and are all very ordinary. I think it is more important to look at the letters as art pieces in their own right to what the words actually say. I don’t plan to make any political statements through my work, I am more interested in the form of lettering and documenting my life. My semester began with drawing into pizza boxes to do this and I then made pizza a big area of my work, I think I am now moving on from this idea although there will still be links to it throughout my practice. As an example my prints are in the shape of pizza boxes with hand lettered words in the middle, I have also printed onto a pizza box which looks really effective.
An artist who I have briefly looked into in my studio practice is Rauschenberg, particularly his pieces made from cardboard. I decided to look at his wall structures made from cardboard when I began to collect and work onto pizza boxes.
The Cardboards are wall sculptures made from found cardboard boxes that have been cut, stapled, bent, and combined by the artist but retain their original history through stains, dents, and tears, in addition to inherent color and labeling. (Cardboard (1971-72)).
Rauschenberg’s cardboard structures are made from materials that he has found and he celebrates the fact that they are not perfect new pieces of cardboard. An example of this is that he names many of his pieces after the branding on the boxes he has used.
Rauschenberg presents his cardboard structures on the wall and because they aren’t framed they then occupy a space from the shape that the cardboard put together creates. I have also been pinning my boxes onto the wall as I think it then takes them from everyday objects to acknowledging that they are pieces of art. I have also been experimenting with turning the pizza boxes inside out to get rid of the advertising on them completely. I have also done this in another way in print making by printing multiple layers on top of the box to mask as much of the advertising as possible. I have made sure not to change the shape of the pizza boxes too much where possible so the original structure is still there. I have also kept any stains in the pizza boxes there and worked on top of them which also links to Rauschenberg’s pieces. I didn’t want to use perfect new boxes as the work wouldn’t then link to the theme of the everyday as well. I also like how the boxes I was documenting my life through, by drawing and writing, were done on the exact pizza boxes I had eaten a pizza out of that day.
Another area of Rauschenbergs artwork I have found interesting is his ‘Combines’. These are pieces again made from found materials. I am interested in the way he presents them on walls and I have been doing similar in my own practice with some signs I have been making through print making.
Collection (1954/1955) is the artist’s first “Combine painting,” an early type of Combine that hangs on the wall like a traditional painting but reaches into three dimensions with various elements attached to the work’s surface. (Robert Rauschenberg, Collection, 1954-55).
I found these pieces from looking at the way he presents his work on walls. His combines are a combination of found materials and painting. With my printmaking I have been finding lots of materials which I can print my lettering onto by using the technique of screen printing, although I have also made a few with acrylic paint and various pens. These include planks of wood, cardboard, clothes and foam board. I plan to add more materials to this list in the near future. Today I have been experimenting with different ways I can present these. I tried a few combinations on the wall in the installation space. I came to the conclusion that the closer together my signs can be the better and I also like when I can overlap them. I need to think about how I am going to put these on the walls for my final degree show as balancing them on nails was not the most effective method but allowed me to have a vision of what my final show could potentially look like.
“Cardboard (1971–72)”. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.
“Robert Rauschenberg, Collection, 1954/1955”. SFMOMA. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.