Here’s a quick little art project I recently did just for fun. It’s a mini-magazine that explores the idea of retro-futurism. It has 4 pages, each one showcasing a different aspect of life in the future (as it may have been envisioned pre-1960). Topics covered include: business, science, fashion, and travel/transportation. The front cover has an excerpt from this BBC program, which technically aired in 1969 but was just too good not to include. I’m not sure what I had more fun doing, making this silly little magazine or doing the research for it. I mean, who can beat clips like this:
This summer Mike and I spent a lot of time working on creative projects. Although we generally enjoyed ourselves, ideas did not always come easily. Creative ruts can kill your enthusiasm and your output.
In retrospect we had a few go-to methods for overcoming these mental obstacles. The tips below are by no means exhaustive, and may not work for everyone, but they definitely helped us get through some of our summer projects!
1. Get out of town or at least the house. A change of scenery can really help clear your head. As students, Mike and I don’t have a lot of spare cash or time to travel, but we like to take quick day trips here and there to recharge our batteries and check out new sights and sounds.
2. Time travel to the past and/or future (not literally, of course!) Try looking for inspiration in history and science fiction. I find these two genres are chock full of ideas that spark my imagination. Envisioning what life was like way back when or what life will be like in 100 years always helps reinvigorate our minds.
3. Unpack your likes and dislikes to better understand your interests. Ask yourself why you like or dislike certain things in order to gain some insight into who you are and what you want to produce as an artist. Looking at art you like (or dislike) can also inspire you to create something similar or something better.
4. Do a 180 by trying something completely different. Recently on a collage supply hunt, I randomly reached for a magazine I would never usually go for – a rural living-themed periodical circa 1971. Although it’s not my usual style, it ended up being one of my best finds so far. I found images inside that instantly sparked ideas for future projects.
5. Give yourself a free pass to create something imperfect. It’s important to remember that art is a creative process (emphasis on the word process). Things may take a while to come together or to look the way you want. Try not to let a fear of imperfection stop you from starting.
Here’s a little collage I completed a few days ago. It’s made from 50+ year-old New York Times Magazines (except for the two insects, which are from a copy of the Canadian magazine, The Walrus). The piece explores longing and desire, of wanting to be somewhere – either emotionally, mentally, or physically – that you’re not. I really like how the composition of this collage turned out, I think the curves of the balloon, circle, watch, etc., play well together. This is my first non-robot collage, and I have to say, I’m really enjoying this medium. Cut and paste has never been so fun!
It’s important to make room in your life for the things you love. In my case, that meant literally making room for all my vintage magazines and other art supplies. A few days ago, I cleared out a corner of the apartment and made a very very small studio space. It’s not entirely glamourous, and you can tell by the repurposed cardboard boxes and tin cans that it was done on a budget, but I love it. I’ve already logged quite a few hours there creating new pieces and workshopping ideas (more on that soon!). Someday I’d love to have a real studio where Mike and I can both work, but for now I’ll happily take my humble little artist’s nook.
Our major assignment for the summer semester was to design a theatre on an existing site in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They probably could not have chosen a more complicated building at a time when no one really wanted to be in school, but somehow we made it through.
There are many considerations in my scheme but these are the basics. The theatre itself is a rectangular structure with the other rooms arranged in a round building surrounding it. There is a bar at the street and a courtyard for outdoor seating and small performances. For larger performances the audience circles around to the second floor lobby and enters the audience chamber from the rear. Attached are some of the graphics from my final presentation last week. In order of appearance:
1. Plans for levels one to three.
2. The big moves I made to get to my final form.
3. A photomontage of the neighbourhood with my proposed elevation inserted (ie. the frontal view).
4. A section (cut) through the theatre chamber and courtyard.
5. A section from the back of the theatre looking at the path from the street to the audience chamber.
Here’s a quick update on the little art project I blogged about a while ago. It took some time but I’ve finally built some new bots: Zoe (right) and Gloria (left). Zoe has motorcycle-wheel eyes, a nose-cone mouth, and killer legs (literally!). Gloria has portable paraffin stoves for eyes, mismatched wheels for feet, and two hug-ready arms. I had a lot of fun building them and can’t wait to keep updating my collection with new pieces. Stay tuned – more bots are on the way!
Studying architecture isn’t all fun and buildings – sometimes we get to play with masks! For what is probably our most bizarre project yet (especially for a history course), last week we had to make masks based on a theatre study and collage we completed earlier in the term. My mask is one of the most traditional in the class, and is probably influenced in no small part by a mask workshop I took part in while studying in England. My concept was based on the prop or set piece, something which may appear complete from one side but betrays its construction on another.
Katie’s knowledge of plaster and scissor skills were a big help with this one. This was my first time using the stuff and it never would have turned out so well without her instruction. Luckily for you, she’s kindly decided to share her instructions below.
What you’ll need:
Large bowl of warm water
Acrylic paint and/or decorations for your mask (optional)
1. After you have all your materials lined up, the first thing you need to do is select a base for the plaster features. For Mike’s mask base, he decided to use a piece of perforated scrap metal cut to shape with tin snips. There are a ton of options for possible mask bases, just make sure whatever you use will be sturdy enough to handle all the plaster you are going to be adding. You can also create a mask base by using your own face (or a friend’s) and plaster cloth (watch a tutorial on how to do so here).
2. Once you’ve figured out the base, start thinking about what kind of features you want the mask to have. For his mask, Mike added a large nose and a well-defined chin, cheek, and forehead. He created the features by crumpling up newspaper in the shapes he wanted and taping them to the mask base. I should note that you aren’t limited to newspaper, you can use almost anything to create funky facial features, such as paper towel rolls or styrofoam. As long as it can handle the plaster, it’s fair game.
3. After you’ve added the features, its time to start plastering! The plaster cloth I bought at the craft store was not pre-cut, so I used scissors to cut it into individual strips. I find strips a lot easier to work with and better at covering all the nooks and crannies of the mask. To plaster: dip the strip into a bowl of warm water, remove, then place the strip between your middle and index finger and squeeze out the excess water. Then, simply place the wet plaster bandage over the top of your mask base and newspaper features. Continue this process until you have covered the entire area of your mask with plaster bandages. I recommend having a couple of coats of plaster over your mask to make it sturdy and smooth (there should be no little holes showing through!). Let the plaster dry overnight or until it’s no longer wet to the touch.
4. If you’d like to keep your plaster mask au natural, then congrats – you’re done! If you’d like to make it a little more colorful, try decorating it with different coloured paints. Mike used indigo acrylic paint to coat the mask, and then mixed it with white and black to create soft highlights and shadows. Similar to adding newspaper, the paint helps give the mask some dimension and depth. You may also want to glue flowers, feathers, beads, yarn, or anything else you can think of to your mask – let your creativity guide you!
Plaster cloth masks are a surprisingly easy craft that are a ton of fun to do. Mike’s already making plans for Halloween!
It’s crunch time for Katie and I at our respective schools, but to keep you interested I have a quick architecture update. Followers might remember the axonometric drawing I posted previously of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Jacobs House (1936). This is a follow-up drawing from the case study we’ve been completing throughout the term, this time a two-point perspective from an angle not usually seen in photos or drawings. I picked up a great book on drawing techniques at a second hand shop near the school and wanted to give the shadows a shot. It took a while and many lines but I like the result. I hope you do too!
One of our major building technology projects this term was “The 4th Element,” named after Semper’s four elements of architecture. Given the pieces above, representing floor, wall, roof, and hearth, we were tasked with creating a functioning lamp expressing an architectural idea of our choosing. This is my result.