Recently I have worked on the Concept idea I Used to Be… where I have created a Concept Booklet vol.1 on the Cardigan Bird. Work is still on going, in fact, the Concept Booklet is the first step towards finalized concept, which I am going to develop further. So there will be more blog posts to come on this project in future. Nevertheless, in this post I would like to share some glimpses of work in progress stages of the Cardigan Bird and my way of handling the creative process. I want to stress that process is never linear but it is going several rounds, validating information and ideas, and sometimes ending up at the starting point again. In this post I am concentrating only the character creation and leaving out the process of making the booklet since that is totally another story to share in another time.
Giving a deeper insight about my work, firstly, I want to point out that sustainable values are vital drivers in my work. I am exploring, how can I as an illustrator contribute on and increase awareness of socially and environmentally balanced way of living. Being more specific, my work raises the concern about the big amount of used, but wearable clothes that ends up in landfill every day. Thinking about my former degree in Fashion and clothing, it has given me the understanding of environmental and social impacts of fashion industry. Having mentioned that, I need to point out that not only industry but also consumers have a big role in a garment lifecycle as an end user. In my work I am particularly focusing on the consumer end; My aim is to inspire audience to see the beautiful opportunity in used garments, and encourage the viewer to reshape and produce something new out from so called fabric waste.
While looking at the possibilities, how garments can be reused I have become more and more interested in sustainable way of living. And in particularly I have looked at Slow Movement ideology as converse to fast pace consumer culture. The Slow Movement is a lifestyle, which considers aspects from environmental and social sustainability. The Movement addresses the issue of time poverty, it looks at today’s fast pace lifestyle arguing that it has caused the dis-connection between people, their family, friends, community, place and food (Slow Movement, 2016). In the other words, the Slow Movement is not only concentrating literally on the time has spend in doing things, but how time is spend; It stresses the conception of time allowing to have greater variety of speeds and selective slowness.
As an Illustrator I want to tell stories and evoke feelings with my works. Having mentioned that I started to think how I could reflect on above phenomenas; can I recognise some characteristic in different kinds of clothes, what kind of feelings clothes could evoke in us? I chose couple of different types of garments (such as a cardigan, jeans, a t-shirt..) and analysed in what kind of occasions people are wearing them. Also I was looking at if the chosen clothes have some special features, which are standing out. By doing that I came up with the idea to create a concept I Used To Be… and tell a story of a garment by transforming it to a fairytale animal. In the first Concept Booklet I decided to illustrate the new life of a cardigan and give an insight what slow living would be for the Cardigan Bird. For me the creative process is a lot about asking questions, that is the way I find my directions. So, I started to doodle and alongside asked to myself what happened to a cardigan, what kind of life she had before? How the Cardigan looked like? How she ended up to be a bird, did someone just abandoned her? How the transformed cardigan would look like? What does she do after transformation?
I wanted to get a refresher and understanding where I’m standing when I am talking about a knitted garments so i had a closer look on how a cardigan is made. Even todays knitted clothes are mostly made by machines, there is still rich craftsmanship tradition alive, which, at least for me, is a source of inspiration giving authenticity when thinking the story, material properties and ways to illustrate the material and character.
I kept asking more questions: Is this concept only about the a story of a garment or could this reflect the feelings of a wearer too? If the cardigan was a real person, what kind of person she would be? Should I illustrate the owner of the cardigan as well? How to illustrate the transformation? What media I should choose and which color palette would work the best?
Thinking about the media, in general I am using watercolours and acrylics, which shapes the body of my portfolio quite clearly and that was the media used in this project as well. The Cardigan Bird got it shapes quite quickly and it needed only subtle fine-tuning while the project got further. Above illustrations are screen shots from the Booklet (background of the drawings are created by using Photoshop). I have used acrylics and pen; Cardigan Bird builds up green color blocks and blue outlines, which makes illustrations flat and static . Comparing these illustration to my previous projects, normally I use wider color palette, but here I wanted colors to be more controlled. Creating contrast to static appearance, I depicted the knitted tweed structure using quite freely yellow and pink brushstrokes & white pen on the green color blocked surfaces. If you have had a look on the Booklet, you might have noted that I didn’t illustrate much the world where the Cardigan Bird inhabits. Therefore, the next step is to focus on bringing bird’s living territories in life, which brings the concept to a new dimension and make charachter more real. Also, the transformation theme has become very important to me. Here the bird jumped out from the cardigan leaving behind a visible hole as a shape of bird. I see that this is a good start in illustrating transformation, though, when working on the concept further, I am aiming to explore more deeper the transformation theme.
This Essay is part of my MA Art and Design (Illustration) research on Illustrating music. It discusses the relations between musical aspects and artworks. By artwork I am referring to visual presentations such as drawings, illustrations or paintings. The thread of this paper is to explore territories of illustration and music in ways to deepen the understanding of how visual mark making corresponds to aspects of music.
I have noticed that motives of using musical aspects in paintings vary. As I described on earlier post, there can be seen the fashion when the impetus of music is based on the perception and structural studies of music as in Klee’s art. Alongside the settled classical music notation structures of counterpoint and polyphonic music that Klee explored in his practice, a new way to depict music developed in the first decades of the 20th century. That is, on the third part of the essay I’m introducing two music scores of which give an idea of ways of depicting music. At first I’m presenting a visual music score December 1952 (1952) from Earle Brown; and secondly a visual listening score (1970) of György Ligeti’s (1923-2006) composition Artikulation (1958) from Rainer Wehinger.
The new approach concentrated on the requirements of musical developments, which was the main reason to abandon the original notation form and develop music notation in a more visual direction in the first decades of the 20th century. Ways of making, hearing and producing music changed gradually and so did the approach to notation. Development of electronic and aleatoric compositions required a new way of depicting music, which brought the visual music scores to light (Thompson 2006). Artists took inspirations from each other, that is the movements in the music world influenced the visual art world and vice versa. For instance, as Dennis (1966:14) has suggested that the way Schönberg constructed his music was inspired by Cubism movement. Having noted that, it is visible that the structure of music started to lose its importance in the sense it had remained in previous decades, which obviously affected visual arts as well as they treated the pictorial space differently. (Dennis 14)
Thinking about notation and visual music scores the relation is very interesting. As earlier described, traditional notation has been a standardized in music for centuries, and one could read it and use it as a language inside the practice. Regarding to visual scores, they don’t work the same way. As Bossis (2006) describe in electroacoustic music, the language is not standardized, which leads to the reason why individuals have their own methods to depict sounds and to the fact that perception is not that standardized either. (Bossis 2006) Sometimes one might not even know where the reading starts or ends. Due to that, visual scores are guidelines for performers and/or audience in order to gain understanding of complex music pieces and to depict subtle harmonies and timbers. In addition they look like pieces of abstract art and I would say, in one level, they are working like art.
Bearing that in mind I suggest that visual music scores are somewhere between notation and art, and in that sense it can be partly studied and explored as an artwork. The notion above might help to understand the relations of visual music scores and art. Now, have a look at December 1952, a visual music score from Earle Brown. At the first sight one may think how do the drawn lines work like music? The score consists of black horizontal and vertical lines with different thicknesses but apart of these facts it might be challenging to understand the message of the visual marking method. Regarding Rawson (1988;40) relations between visual units build a connection system in drawing. As Brown(2008) has mentioned, the score is not composed, rather it suggests the relationships between elements. The purpose of the December 1952 is to help a performer to improvise. In other words, it would help a performer to correspond with the elements and communicate through their own inner poetism, as Brown described.(Brown 2008) Indeed, these lines are not just random separately located black strokes, rather one has decided to construct them at specific places on the surface, leaving some space between the elements.
Brown (2008) has described loosely how to read the particular score. He suggested that top of the page represents the higher register of instrument and with the same logic bottom page stands for the lower register. Left-right scale is suggested to be time, and the size of the lines indicates the volume of the sound. The line thickness is also suggested to indicate cluster sound, which basically means that many closely occurred tones should play at the same time. Brown also suggested imagining the sheet as a three dimensional space where the elements would physically move with different speeds in different directions in front of the performer. That is, the performer would connect to the physical movements and would improvise by perceiving the suggested relationships which are given from the elements movements. (Brown 2008:4-7)
In that light, reflecting to the guidelines and looking at the image, the first description would seem to quite obvious but it is quite challenging to gain the understanding of 3D form just by looking at the Brown’s work. However, whether it is 2D or 3D, it is clear the relations between lines plays the key role. The way the lines are organized is very standardized and reminiscent of small rectangles. Some of the lines are closer to each other and create line groups, and at the same time lines bridge the gap with other line groups and so on. They create a rhythmic body structure. Even the score is for improvisation, and in that sense it would be assumed that the structure is free. I can recognize the same strict and absolute appearance of music structure in the way lines are executed as it is in Klee’s work in the form of colour blocks. The main difference is that the expressive aspects, the poetic part Brown mentioned, are left outside for a performer, as the work is not a painting but a score.
Going further, and analysing another music score Artikulation (please see below video). The main difference between Brown’s score and his is that it is made to support the perception of the music piece. Certainly, it is called a visual listening score. The score illustrates Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s electronical composition Artikulation, which Wehinger created in the 1970’s. The listening score is based on the aural impression of the piece. It is a visualization of the sonic texture and the musical structure, and the purpose of this score is to give the idea and illustrate the music piece for an audience. (Guardian 2013; Thompson 2006; Levy 2006) Wehinger’s score is originally made on paper sheets. On the presented video music is synchronised with the score. The piece lasts almost four minutes, and to follow the score the black vertical bar is added afterwards to indicate the current position of listening (Graig D 2007; Northern 2009) It is vital to mention that Ligeti’s electronic piece is a whole composition when Brown’s was a guide for improvisation.
Rawson (1987;36) mentions that all forms of drawing should be reviewed in two ways. Firstly it is vital to understand that units and systems of the drawing carry emotive and associational contents. Having heard Ligeti’s electronic music piece I agree that shapes corresponds to the heard sounds on one level. I perceive that the round shapes sounds like soft bubbles and the combs create the illusion of sharp undulating movements. However, perception can be argued. Shapes also create other associations, which may not be that direct. To analyse the score, it is relevant to note that Ligeti’s piece was made in the 1950’s, but the score were created two decades after, which is seemingly recognizable of its typical visual language. Different shapes and colours mirror the time, for instance, bright colours and geometrical shapes, but also round organic shapes in the background, depict design from the 70’s. As a reflection to Rawson, this perception of time can evoke feelings, perhaps memories, which one can link to past. It seems to me that in a way the forms and shapes carry the meanings, of which I would argue the particular music piece wouldn’t evoke alone.
The second point of reviewing forms of drawing is connected with the structural function of methods used. Rawson states, structural function enables the work to be related to system. (Rawson 1987:36) Wehinger’s score not only concentrates on depicting the timbers but also illustrating the structure of composed music and it’s progress with the same logic as an original notation, where time is suggested to pass from left to right, and due to that overlapping elements on the surface are indicating sounds playing at the same time. It can be seen that the pictorial space of the surface is framed with a black stroked square, in which all the musical elements are situated. Time is indicated outside of the square with numbers and measure lines. Wehinger created a system for a score, which is divided in four element categories; a music score consists of a mix of geometric, colourful elements. Regarding Northern (2009) dots are indicating impulses, combs illustrate noises and colours are representing values and variations in timbre and pitch.
Adorno and Gillespie (1996: 69) mention that one often thinks that space in paintings is the same as time, nevertheless they don’t share directly the same identity; temporal organization is not simultaneous but successive. When considering the rhythm, Langer (1967) and Adorno and Gillespie (1996: 69) describe, it as something which prepares the future. It is one group of tensions after another. Thus time is an immanent aspect and its embodiment is carried out with rhythmical marks, which constitute the space. Certainly, to support this opinion Rawson (1988: 200) also states that rhythmic marks are signals for audience to read surfaces; they create relations between elements of positive surfaces and ‘empty’ negative voids. To understand this, it is good to have closer look at elements in the score. For instance, the elements in green squares attached with green undulate lines not only suggest sound development, but also give an idea of time. In addition, repetitions of elements create rhythm in pictorial space, and on other level indicate that the same sounds are repeated in the music piece.
The main idea of this essay was to get an insight of the relations between musical aspects and artworks. The approach was to research visual mark making and how they correspond to music. This essay introduced some of the qualities of both art forms by searching for how they are connected and correlated with each other. To understand the fundamental aspects, it was vital to have a look at the territories and get an insight into how both are operating. It may be obvious that the connection is as simple as they both evoke feelings using human senses such as hearing and sight. However, as it mentioned earlier, feeling is an outcome of a complex and subtle language system both practises have. The communication factors differ a lot from each other, which make sense, as they are different art forms. Nevertheless, music and visual arts have interacted for centuries and artist have depicted musical aspects in their works in many ways.
Paul Klee’s work Alter Klang illustrates the outcome of the enquiry he had gone through while finally developing the colour block composition system. Klee used the musical polyphonic structure as a base for his working methods, which he extended and applied to other painting themes. Rich colour tones combined with square grid suggested that the strict music structure could be combined with expressiveness in painting. The un-figurative composition form proposed the method where the music and painting unite the purest way.
As the way of making, hearing and producing music developed in the first decades in 20th century. The impetus of new music developments changed the way of visualising composed music, as normal standardized notation could not meet the requirements of depicting pitches or sounds anymore. Visual music scores replaced partly the original music scores in the new music genres. Even the visual music scores are guidelines for understanding music the elements and shapes are more iconic and thus they share the language with visual arts.
Visual communication rules are more flexible than a normal notation system. When one is aware of the ways a visual communication operates, visual scores are a workable tool for the purpose of depicting and illustrating sounds as well as understanding the structures of musical pieces. Brown’s and Wehinger’s music scores showed how music can be depicted many ways and how pictorial space can work differently. Browns score revealed how simple lines work in order to create relations between each other and shape the whole pictorial space. On the other hand Wehinger’s listening score showed how shapes and colour create rhythm on surface, and how repeated lines can create the sense of time.
Adorno T. W. & Gillespie S. ‘On Some Relationships between Music and Painting’. The Musical Quarterly.79(1 )(Spring, 1995), pp. 66-79. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/742517 [Accessed 15 April 2015]
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My latest work got its inspiration from my dream. A woman was swimming in a lake, at the backround I could see an amusement park and lots of high buildings. Later, I only saw high grass by the lake. Finally woman stood up and I could see that she was wearing a cape which was full of small diamonds inside and they were shimmering with sun.
Technique:Watercolor, gesso and pen on 300g/m2 aquarelle paper, size 68×98 cm
This Essay is part of my MA Art and Design (Illustration) research on Illustrating music. It discusses the relations between musical aspects and artworks. By artwork I am referring to visual presentations such as drawings, illustrations or paintings. The thread of this paper is to explore territories of illustration and music in ways to deepen the understanding of how visual mark making corresponds to aspects of music. On the second part I take a look on Paul Klee’s composition Alter Klang(1925) which is a good example on how artists reflect musical structures in their work.
Paul Klee’s was one of the most remarkable; I would say a pioneer in his area of research of using musical structures and combining expressiveness in his paintings. His work Alter Klang(1925) is famous for its colour composition elements. The structure of the music is one of the main aspects of which Klee used as a base method for creating the colour composition as the Alter Klang is. Having mentioned that, Klee is not the only one who came up with the idea of exploring nonreferential picture space. In fact, Klee’s works from that period can be recognized to be part of the movement when artist such as Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy worked on rectangle compositions as well. (Kagan1983)
Regarding Kagan (1983: 67), Klee’s work shows how paintings have an absolute structure as in music and at the same time it doesn’t deny expression. After first sight one may notice that surface of the painting is a square, which consists of colored rectangles. It might be obvious how rhythm is shown in this composition; repeated rectangles create a grid, which gives the idea of rhythm. On the other level repeated color tones and hues lead the audience to explore paths of the painting, which also creates rhythm and relations between colours. Indeed, the main aspects in his paintings were concepts of colour harmony, value and chiaroscuro. He was influenced by structure of polyphonic music, which prevailed in music between the 14th and the 19th centuries. (Kagan 1983:69)
It is said that Klee translated music quite directly, using its structure as starting point. One might think that different colours represent different tones of music, and as well as the colour tones indicate the changing of musical harmony. It can be speculated what these methods meant for Klee. However, the interesting detail of the Alter Klang is that he wanted to use the idea of music structure and explore artwork from Leonardo Da Vinci. He translated painting to his own language, to colour block compositions, using the same colour values as in Leonardo’s work. It is notable that the edges of the Alter Klang are darker and colors become lighter towards the middle of the painting as it is in Leonardo’s work. Indeed, it can be seen that he explored the pictorial light and light that was ‘created by movement of colour’. That is he wanted to point out the expressiveness of old paintings but at the same time follow the strict structure of music. He called the method cool romanticism. (Kagan 1983)
Paul Klee has said; make visible rather that reproduce visible. (Thompson 2006:12). The way I understand this is he wanted to express the complex relationship between music and painting. Could it be that he suggests the purity of music can only be found from the structure? I find structure is something that reveals the composer’s intensions. Having said that I’m referring the fact that when you listen to a repertoire of music from the same composer you tend to recognize the typical melodies, harmony developments and rhythms. And finally, the way the composition is performed is an outcome of the communication between performer and structure. Regarding Kagan (1983:68), Klee disengaged the pictorial space from the physical world by creating non-figurative works. So in that sense, I can see Klee had a mission to bring together the expressiveness and structure using the dynamical colour variation on flat grid. When the painting is constructed of the non-figurative elements, structure unites the painting to the music world. In that sense, make visible might suggest to create abstract -non-figurative paintings.
Please see below some picture of my rectangle composition work in progress…
…and finalised work with a zoomed in picture. Media: Watercolor and pigment ink on 300g paper, 60×50 cm
This Essay is part of MA Art and Design (Illustration) research on Illustrating music. It discusses the relations between musical aspects and artworks. By artwork I am referring to visual presentations such as drawings, illustrations or paintings. The thread of this paper is to explore territories of illustration and music in ways to deepen the understanding of how visual mark making corresponds to aspects of music.
The main focus point of this essay is painting, where music is an important inspiration and source of methods used in the art works. I introduce the topic through three visual presentations from different decades of the 20th century as follows: A painting from Paul Klee (1879-1940); Alter Klang (1925), a visual music score from Earle Brown (1926-2002); December 1952 (1952) and a visual listening score (1970) of György Ligeti’s (1923-2006) composition Artikulation (1958) from Rainer Wehinger.
Concerning any arts, general challenge is in defining relations between them. Indeed, together music and visual arts have been under observation and discourse for centuries. In fact, painters such as Klee, Delaunay, Kandinsky, and composers such as Debussy, Schönberg and Stravinsky, were alternately under the influence of each other, and took the inspiration and explored the concepts of art mediums to seek and identify structures and forms in their own practices in 19th and 20th century. However, one might ask, why or how should we find the relations between different arts, as it might be obvious music and painting are different? Yes, they are different in sense that the content that music expresses alone differs from painting; music’s sensory content is sound whereas the contents of painting are colour and forms for traditional thought. (Morton & Schmunk 2000; Dennis 1966)
Thinking about the fundamental characters of music, there are other aspects we should point out. Music is something invisible, which operates through our sense of hearing; basically it is sound waves, which are repeated clutters of air particles; our eardrum response them and translate them into electronic signals and then send to the brain for decoding (Vella 2000: 38). We can also consider music as temporal art where it has it’s realm or existence in time territory. Having mentioned that, it is relevant to note that it has an appearance outside of time as well, for instance, in the form of notation. (Adorno & Gillespie 1996)
One of my experiment where the notation is taking out of context. Watercolor and Fiber-tip pen on 200g Paper, A5
Going forward and describing fundamentals of visual arts, unlike music, a painting works using two-dimensional space, which can be characterised as a spatial art. A painting is a static simultaneous object, which consists of elements that exist next to each other in surface space. It is a reworking of a space, and the creation process is carried out in time. In order to create lines of drawing one will create movements of points. Indeed, in ways how lines are organised, form elements on surface. (Rawson 1987; 15) (Adorno & Gillespie 1996; 66-69)
What explains relations between music and painting? We relate to things through the different senses, and we create the reality combining the information we receive through them. We don’t distinguish between senses of the world such as taste or touch, they are working together. Music and painting works through different senses, hearing and sight, but at the same time they share something, that is feeling. (Henry 2009) In other words, both the visual and audible perception evokes feelings. As Halliday describe, arts echoes our own subjective life. It reflects our feelings (Halliday 2013, 22).
An experiment; light vs. shadow: reflection. Acrylic paint on acrylic sheet.
But the true connection between music and visual arts is not feeling, rather it is the outcome. The connection can be found profoundly with their language. It’s not the language in the sense of linguistic terms. As it may be obvious music and visual arts share a lot of vocabulary together, for instance, tones of music and colour, or rhythm in music and paintings. (Dennis 1966). Even though these disciplines share the same words; it does not exactly mean the same aspects. The both have their own characteristic way to convey messages.
Music and painting speak the language of how they are constructed. That is, the connection, the fundamental, is how the space, temporal or spatial, is planned, organized and used. However the methods used in music differ from those used in painting; when music deals with different pitches, melodies, harmonies, which are carried out in different rhythms and with different instruments, paintings use different colours, strokes, shapes with different materials and surface sizes. (Adorno & Gillespiel 1996:71) In other words, music and paintings have their own methods. Indeed, Adorno and Gillespie (1996:68) and Rawson (1987:195-197) suggest that operating with individual colour qualities means the same thing that composers operate with individual tones. And these methods are the base for the language that has arisen and the feelings that are evoked from artworks.
Tracking musical structures. Watercolor and pen on 300g paper, A1
My cute little Orchid gave me inspiration for the below piece, which I finalised recently. I was wondering how she looked so good since weeks had passed and I had forgotten to water her. I checked the vase and I could see little water at the bottom, but as the vase was too narrow, pot didn’t reach the bottom, and normally plant would have not survived. For my surprise, my persistent Orchid had grown a root through the small whole and now drank the leftover water. It really impressed me a lot.
With the illustration I want to cherish how amazingly nature finds its way to reach water and and sun.
Technique: Watercolor and India Ink on 300g/m2 aquarelle paper, size 50×65 cm
It is funny how you can struggle with your thoughts and works, and then you realise that the answer is in front of you. Something like this happened to me lately. Even I am interested in fashion and clothing I began to feel I tried too much, and I felt my approach to the topic was too obvious. Instead of hitting my head against the wall I started to think over my interests and change direction.
Then it hit me, music, it was so obvious! Why haven’t I thought of it before? Music has always been a big part of my life as I have played the piano and hand bells for many years. I also love listening to music.
I pictured myself playing the piano and thought how the music flows in the space. I think it is amazing how we can read the music from 2D music sheets and translate it to sound waves, that is, I think, something invisible, layered and three dimensional; It evokes feelings and emotions and can resonate in your body. Below are some of my first interpretation on music.
Media: Fiber-tip pen and pigment ink on 200g paper, A4
Media: Watercolor, finer-tip pen and pigment ink on 150g paper, A3
Regarding abstract art, and especially the theme about painting music, I have discovered that there are two common names in fine arts; Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Speaking of Kandinsky I found a very interesting article Ways of mind-walking: reading, writing, painting by Tim Ingold, a Professor of Social Anthropology and Head of the School of Social Science at the University of Aberdeen. In the article Ingold offers an insight into how the terrain of imagination and real life can be understood in visual and non-visual practices. I was especially interested in the part of the article where he approaches modern abstract art using its pioneer, Vasily Kandinsky, as an example.
Ingold mentioned about Kandinsky’s concept of external and internal. I found that Kandinsky’s theory is quite complex, and I need to find more sources in order to understand it better. However, Ingold illustrates Kandinsky’s idea that paintings were no longer meant to be understood in a way that one can say a painting is a picture of something. In other words, a painting should be more non-figurative. Figurative paintings bind objects in the visible world, and sometimes they lack content. In abstract art, paintings drill down to the viewer’s soul and evoke feelings. But what exactly did Kandinsky mean by abstract contents? How I see this is that; paintings of objects are too obvious and they can’t convey meanings in a way that abstract art does. Abstract contents of paintings give an opportunity to be part of the experience. Could it be, in this case, that abstract contents describe what the artist (Kandinsky) felt while painting music?
Above painting is one of my very first reflection on music. Media: Ink and Watercolor on 180g/m2, A4.
Ingold, T. (2010) ‘Ways of mind-walking: reading, writing, painting’. Visual Studies. 25(1 )April. pp. 16-23.
Lately I have been reading sources about visual culture, fashion and communication. I find it very interesting, as clothing is part of our everyday life. It’s connected to everyone, and it pretty much tells something about us; maybe something about our lifestyles, values, cultures, or interests. In up coming paragraphs I would like to share my own experience on how a garment evokes meanings and stories, or finally do they?
This picture of me is taken two months ago. I was just about to start my MA studies at the University of Hertfordshire. Everything was new to me, and I was exited but at the same time little bit confused about everything –No wonder why, it takes some time to adapt to a new environment; moving abroad and starting studies in the new university takes a lot of energy. That is, I needed to make feel myself as comfortable as I could.
However, I have this white and red coloured jumper, which I tended to wear these days quite often. There are several reasons why I chose to pack it within my luggage, for instance, as autumn- and wintertime can be quite chilly and dark, so I wanted to take something warm and colourful with me. I also like patterning and shapes very much. Nevertheless, I think the most important reason is that the jumper was my mothers, and was knitted by my grandma in the early 60’s.
I think this jumper is more than a jumper to me. It carries meanings, that is, it connects me to my roots and practise. I’ve been described how my grandma used to spin wool thread and send them out to be dyed. Then she knitted them by copying models from magazines. Usually every family member got something warm and colourful for Christmas. This tradition has continued in my family as my mom does a lot of knitting today too. I feel that I get much energy when thinking about all this.
Back to the jumper. Two months back I felt that this pullover reminded me who I am, and it gave me confidence. But why was it like that? Do clothes tell stories or share meanings, or am I creating them all by myself? Regarding Finkelstein (2007), people are producing their reality through their identity, which is shaped by social forces in our culture. He explains that visual culture is full of cultural codes, which can be considered intangible, and are perceived through goods. Likewise Malcolm Bernard (2010) presents an idea of cultured bodies, where the body is a base of cultural phenomenon, yet different cultural bodies share the meanings through fashion. He further illustrates his approach of the meaning of clothing and culture as follows: When a garment is linked to culture it will construct meanings, and these meanings are shared and understood by the members of the same cultural or social groups. He also stresses that a garment itself can’t create meanings, it has to be connected with culture.
Refer to Finkelstein and Barnard’s ideas; the jumper itself doesn’t create meanings. The jumper represents something from the past. If I’m thinking back to the time when my mother got the jumper I’m sure she might think differently about it than I do now. Obviously I can’t tell how she felt when she wore it. Perhaps the jumper connects me to my family, culture and handcraft tradition, or maybe I perceive some values or ideals through it. Maybe the jumper is one way to strengthen my identity. I think is important to point out that at the same time when I have decided to include this pullover as part of my visual appearance, I have also excluded something else.
Apparently I could analyse this for many pages, as there are so many layers that can be contemplated. However, I’m considering this post to be a start of my research of visuality, and later its connection to my practice as an illustrator.
Finkelstein, J. (2007) The Art of Self Invention. IB Tauris & Co Ltd
Barnard, M. (2010) Fashion statements: Communication and Culture. In Barnard Scap, R. & Seitz, B. (2010) (ed.) Fashion Statement on Style, Appearance, and Reality. Palgrave Macmillan.
Couple of days ago I randomly went trough some magazines I had kept in my drawer for quite some time. I found this little recommendation ad about Sunday lunch restaurants in London. As I’m working on the music theme I started to think what kind of music do I usually hear in restaurants. What is the typical background music like? Of course it depends on the restaurant but in general I think it is most likely some light, melodic music; something you don’t pay much attention to but it is nice that you can listen to it. Sometimes people’s talk can mix with the music and perhaps, after all, it can considered to be more sound pollution than pleasant voices.
So, I came up with this idea to illustrate the background music; bringing the music in front. I used the ad as a surface for my painting. I listened to some jazz music pieces, looked for some music sheets, and using the light box I copied ties, staves and notes to the surface. I choose the piece below as I think it well represents a music genre that I would hear while having lunch or brunch at an idyllick restaurant.
I painted over the ad with silver acrylic paint to bring out “the invisible” in front. I left it to be little bit transparent as I wanted the food plates and cups to be recognizable. I wanted to illustrate how music, and on the other hand human voices, would interact in the space. It can be quite a mess when you try to distinguish music from the other voices in a busy restaurant.
Overall, I found it was fun to paint and play around with this idea. Besides, this is a new media for me as I haven’t really done any experiments with a collage style before. I like how acrylic paint performs on the magazine. Depends on which angle you choose to view the work, the picture of the magazine appears more or less visible, and the texture of the acrylic paint shows differently.
Media: Silver acrylic paint, a golden pen and black fiber tip pen on magazine page.
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