Cubist Still Life
Have you ever had a project or assignment that you thought you would hate, but discovered half-way through you were in love with it? I had one of those moments recently.
In my Design II class, I was tasked with creating a cubist still life. My professor had set up three relatively complex still lifes in different sections of Cedarville’s Fine Arts building and I was allowed to incorporate different elements from each. The rules were simple: Create a unified composition in the cubist style while still maintaining enough realism so that the viewer was able to distinguish the original objects.
Quick Lesson: A cubist still life will general include the breaking apart and/or reforming of the objects. The work can be composed to include several different angles of the still life and will have various levels of abstraction. Two well-known examples are Picasso’s Three Musicians and Braque’s Violin and Candlestick.
I did several sketches to work out my compositional arrangement and the stylized details I wanted to include in my piece. Though it took a lot of time and had its frustrating moments, I enjoyed this part a lot. Even though it needed to fall under the umbrella of cubism, I experienced a lot of freedom in the project to cultivate and utilize my own personal style–something not allowed under the guidelines for my other projects in Design II till that point.
While working on my sketches, I pretended to ignore the fact that my composition would turn out best if done with colored pencil on black paper. Colored pencils are not my favorite media to work with. My use of line and inclusion of tight corners made oil pastel and paint a bad idea. Black ink on white paper was a possibility, if I increased the stroke weight of my lines, but the overall composition had the possibility of being lost. These problems would also have been present if I used charcoal or Conte crayon as well. If I had done a collage of layered paper, I would run the risk of having too much variety, making the piece busy and discontinuous. The option of scanning my sketches and recreating the piece in Illustrator was available, but this is one of my last studio art classes so I wanted to avoid using the computer for this project.
My professor encouraged me to take some time and consider which media I wanted to use. He realized I knew why colored pencil would be the best option, but he also realized that I did not want to work in a media I hate. In the end, I decided I would rather further cultivate my skill with colored pencils–even if they are not my favorite–and create the piece that would look the best, than settle by using a media I am more comfortable with and having a lesser quality end product. I was definitely stretched beyond my normal comfort zone!
About a quarter of the way into the final version, I realized that I was enjoying myself. A lot. I liked the look the pencils provided and vibrant contrast they had against the black background. Some frustrations I imagined I would encounter never materialized, making me even happier. The piece took a lot of time and blending, but I felt it was worth it–good art is.
I received a 100% for the project, which made me even happier. It was suggested that I hold onto it for my art exhibit my senior show. In the spring, I plan on submitting it for Cedarville’s student-juried Art Gala. Now, to name it…