Pop Art

What is Pop Art?

Pop Art sprouted in the 1950s. In order to understand the purpose of Pop Art, it is important to understand what the world was going through. This was post WWII and art is something that is generally for the more educated population.

However, artists wanted the general public to be able to appreciate art. How do you reach the general population? You turn to pop culture.

Using popular culture in modern art allowed for people to recognize and understand the art that was being made. For example, Roy Lichtenstein took cells from comic books and would paint the single cell. People knew where the content came from, or at least that it was a comic book, but they weren’t given the context which is where the artistic element comes in. The viewer is still challenged to interpret meaning. It is more comfortable to stand in front of something that you at least know a little bit about- popular culture –> POP ART.

Pop Art, in design, is commercial, colorful, and simple.

Here is a YouTube video that explains Pop Art really well:

Here are some examples of the more well-known Pop Artists:

Andy Warhol

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Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn), 1967

Roy Lichtenstein

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Artist’s Studio “Foot Medication”, 1974

Claes Oldenburg

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Flying Pizza, from New York Ten, 1964

All of the artists I mentioned in this blog post have work displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago in the Modern Wing. Get on the train and check these out.

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Galaxy Images are Art?

One of my favorite parts of galaxy images are all of the colors. Like how amazing is it that we live in such a beautiful universe? Well, unfortunately those colors we see aren’t actually there.

Probably the saddest news you’ll hear all day, yes, these images are artificially colored. I’ll explain.

Take a look at a nebula that most people are familiar with: The Cat Eye Nebula

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One of the most captivating aspects of this image is the color. It looks like an eye. There colors are harmonious with the analogous combination of oranges, reds, and yellows. There blue thrown into the center to compliment the orange (blue and orange dance off of one another when put next to each other).

How NASA Produces Images From Space

NASA uses high power telescopes to capture information from space. Sometimes they can get a visual of what is out there but currently, NASA is exploring areas of our universe that are not even remotely close to us- light years away. So how is it possible to take a picture of the universe? They don’t.

The telescopes actually collect data from outer space. Scientists take the data and interpret it to be made into a visual. For example, they might be given information regarding what type of elements are in a new found galaxy, densities of the elements, and location of the elements. With this information, they are able to put together a map, if you will, of the data gathered. The map is the visual that we see.

However if it was just a map of data, how can we get a good understanding of what is actually out there? They add color. Colors indicate temperature, density, size, etc. The color is added simply to enhance understanding.

Why Is This On Arteresting?

I think there is something to be appreciated about images from outer space. They may not be a direct visual for what is actually out there, but the data is put together in a visually appealing way that helps the public understand the beyond.

This is why I have included this. A galaxy image has the ability to stop someone and make them stare and interpret what is in front of them, much like a painting would.

The colors are strategically chosen to not only enhance understanding but also to be aesthetically appealing.

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If you want a more detailed, technical explanation, you can check out the NASA website. I have also included a link to an essay I wrote about it:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Bgdia3VLyY4BQDAr0HmmIdBVM3v3wuNZwCIDSjOKg0o/edit?usp=sharing

There is also plenty of information on this on the web. There are some citations at the end of the essay you can look at, as well.

Photo Credit:

All photos from NASA

I Don’t Know What To Draw

I’m sitting here trying to come up with a topic for this blog post, hitting a wall for ideas. Writers block isn’t only for writers. Ever heard of artists block?

One of the struggles I personally experience a lot with art is trying to figure out what I want to create. I stare at a piece of paper for 30 minutes and end up getting frustrated and watching a movie instead. It always makes me feel like a failure in some way.

Picasso’s Golden Advice

About a year ago I came across a quote from Pablo Picasso: “To know what you want to draw, you have to start drawing.”

I read this and thought “frick yeah this is the answer to my artists block! I am going to draw all the time now and its going to be great.” Here is what happened: I would sit down, pick up my pencil, touch the pencil to the paper, and start drawing lines. Eventually I would just end up with a page full of weird lines. Thanks for the advice Picasso.

My Golden Realization

Within the last month or so, I decided to reflect on the art I have looked at in my art history courses and I realized that art isn’t necessarily about what you draw but rather how you draw. This is where an artist can develop style and skill.sketchbook

Art doesn’t need to be abstract, extravagant, colorful, outrageous, whatever. Obviously it can be and that art is beautiful, but I think one of the most important things an artist can do to stay with it is to practice drawing every day objects.

I discovered this when I was feeling artists block and all I wanted to do was draw something. I also wanted to use my watercolor paints. I have a gingko plant in my room that is planted in a colorful pot. I decided- hm, maybe I’ll draw that. And I freaking did. I was able to spend more time on the actual drawing than thinking about what I was going to draw.1

After this, I took a trip to Dick Blick and bought a pocket size sketchbook. I bring this wibottle-sketchth me everywhere and try to sketch at least one thing per day. I’ll often practice drawing my hand because it is always there, but learning to take whatever is in front of me and just drawing it helps so much.

Maybe this post will help you to become more creative in your daily life. Just remember that practice makes perfect and not everything you draw has to be a masterpiece.

Photos are all my own.

Stop All The Clocks

Moving onto poetry. I’m not a huge poetry buff but I think in order to run an art blog, it is necessary to cover as many forms of art as possible. Written form is used by many who need to express themselves artistically without paint, pencils, or instruments.

penpaperEveryone has some sort of poetry unit in high school literature class. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t take much away from it and I don’t remember how to write a haiku.

I took English 196 freshman year of college when I thought I wanted to be an English major. It didn’t work out because I’m not all that great at reading, but I did end up taking more away from this class than I did back in high school literature (although I still don’t know how to write a haiku). My favorite read from this class was the poetry unit.

Impact of Poetry

I think poetry has a way of reaching the soul and really making a person think. They are often left for the reader to interpret, which I love. My favorite poem is a love poem. Well, it’s more of a mourning poem but the sadness is a result of love.

When I first read Stop All The Clocks by W.H. Auden (see poem below), I wasn’t in the exciting, sunshine filled mindset that I am so blessed to be in now. I was feeling sad and this poem made me feel understood. It’s funny how words on a page can make a person feel so connected.

I’m sorry if you feel this is too personal, but I think that art is a very personal thing and if I’m going to take the liberty of talking about it with you then I am somewhat obligated to be willing to put my feelings out there. Art is a feeling, thought-provoking concept.

W.H. Auden’s Poem

Poetry is words on a page that are strategically put together to express a thought. W.H. Auden writes about the loss of a loved one. Whether it is a breakup, a death, etc. -it is never explicitly stated. I think why I love this poem so much is that losing someone is a normal, common, occurrence. Everyone experiences a loss at some point.

The exact wording seems to be referencing a death. For an English assignment in ENG196, a student went in front of the class and explained her interpretation. She was going through a break up at the time and connected heavily with this poem. I had the same experience and therefore felt connected to another person. I think it is so interesting that two people who have never talked before could read a piece of poetry and have the same interpretation.

This poem is also read in the movie Four Weddings And A Funeral with Hugh Grant. It is read during his lover’s funeral. Just an example of how else this poem is used/interpreted.

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All in all, I think this poem is worth a read. Even if it isn’t something you relate to in any way. Regardless it is a beautiful poem and W.H. Auden is worth reading.

Stop All The Clocks
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 

Photos:

Pen & Paper

Four Weddings And A Funeral

 

 

The Dark Room

Today, we know photography as something that is accessible to anyone with a phone, digital camera, whatever is convenient. But what about photography that maybe isn’t as simple as touching a button?

I’ve talked about this before in my Diane Arbus post, but it wasn’t until recently that we could take a photo in less than five seconds. It used to take up to seven minutes to capture a single photograph.

Whats the worth in photography?

I think digital photography makes a lot of us take photography for granted. Is there actually worth and effort in a picture you took on your phone? Does Snapchat count as art? Is there any value to photography anymore?

My answer is yes. I think there is beauty in being able to document moments, capturing the now. I think there is thought and skill put into instant photos. That being said there are also a lot of pictures that are not art. Again, it all depends on your definition of art.

Although I appreciate modern photography,  I have found true love in the art of the dark room.
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Manual Photography

The dark room is a place to develop photos taken manually. That’s right. The ol’ roll of Kodak film that you load into the camera, conscious to not expose the actual film to any light, and developing the photos yourself.

The purpose of this blog post is not to teach you how to unnamed-2develop your own photos in the dark room. 1) Lets be realistic, would you actually do it? Probably not. & 2) There are already a million postings on the internet that provide you with a step-by-step process. I think me telling you would be throwing words into an abyss.

Instead I want to talk about why I think it is such a valuable process. Consider this as more of an argument for using the dark room, not a how-to.
Whats so great about the dark room?
First, you’ll appreciate your photos more. The process to manually develop a photograph can take hours. You have to develop the roll, adjust the film, project the photo, develop the photo, time everything perfectly, it’s a lot of work. The payoff is much greater when you have to actually take the time and do it yourself.
Second, you’ll gain technical skills. Not only is developing photos timely, but it requires you to perfect the process. Since you’re working with chemicals everything is very sensitive. Things to pay attention to are temperature of the chemicals, the amouunnamed-1nt of light exposure in the room, aperture, etc.
I think the hardest part of the process is getting the roll of film into the developing canister. It is pitch black in the room, you have to pop the roll of film open with a can opener- in complete darkness, get the film out of the canister without touching it, and roll it onto a spool. The reasoning for the darkness is because you can’t expose the film to light until it is fully developed or else everything will fog over.
Third, you’ll be more relaxed. After the darkness you can use a safe-light to illuminate the room. It emits a soft red glow. I also like to play my music while I’m in the dark room. Wilco is usually the band of choice for this activity. Its not rare to be alone in the dark room so just picture this: you’re working through a set process (its almost mindless once you get the hang of it), there’s a soft red glow illuminating the room, and Jesus Etc. by Wilco is quietly playing.
This is an artistic process that is fading out. I think it holds a lot of value and sentiment and should be more appreciated than it is.
Even if you’re not into photography or you don’t want to go into a dark room, I hope I’ve at least shed some light on why it is something to be appreciated.
All photos are mine.

Bob Ross

Yes you’ve read correctly. Bob Ross. What’s an art blog without some Bob Ross?

Who is Bob Ross?

Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably heard of Bob Ross. If you don’t know, here’s some background:

He was an American painter, art instructor, and he also had his own show. On this show he would teach everyday people how to paint.

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Painting Style

Ross is known for his landscapes. He used a wet-on-wet style, meaning he wouldn’t let the paint dry before adding another layer of paint. This makes a smooth, blended, seamless effect to a painting. This technique can be very difficult as it is easier to end up with a muddy finish if blended too much or smudged.

What I love so much about his painting style is how for the first 20 minutes of the painting, it looks like blobs of paint. It doesn’t look like much but once he goes in to add subtle details it turns into a masterpiece.

He will typically use a larger brush or a mixing knife with oil paints to paint.

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Bob Ross and Nature

Bob Ross shows a true appreciation of nature in his work, which I appreciate. He paints a lot of mountains and trees in his art. His sunsets are always beautiful.

Art Philosophy

Bob Ross is all about encouraging everyone to paint. You can learn anything if you just practice. As an art gal, I can attest to this mantra. I’ve seen people start drawing for the first time ever during their sophomore year of high school. They practiced a ton and now one of them is studying art at UCLA. Practice makes perfect.

He also kept a positive attitude throughout painting. It is quite endearing. He spoke about his art as if it were living inside the canvas, as if the subject matter had feelings. What a great way to treat your creations.

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Bob Ross painted until his death in 1995. 20 years later and people are still watching his painting videos. He is admired by many for his positivity, sensitivity, and creativity.

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Media Credit:

GIFs

Bob Ross’s videos can be found on:

YouTube

Netflix

Fleet Foxes Album Art

There is so much to be said about album art. Album art sets the tone for what the artist wants to portray for the listener. It is meant to compliment the music. This is done with color, style, subject matter, etc.

Fleet Foxes (2008)

I picked Fleet Foxes out of all the albums out there because the band used 16th century Dutch art to act as the visual component to an album. How interesting.

Background on the Album Art

The art featured on the cover of the album is Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559).

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At first glance it looks like a crowded everyday genre scene (a genre scene is a depiction of everyday life). However, if you look closer, chaos ensues. People are hanging out of windows, running in the water, arguing, shaving lambs, in the middle of the panel there is a fox sitting down at a table like a human, its almost humorous.

The day is hectic and it seems like every individual in the painting is dealing with some kind of crazy. I think one of my favorites is in the bottom right hand corner, a woman spilled a pot of food and shes trying to pick it back up with a spoon. For all of my Office watchers:

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More on Dutch Art

Moving on, this painting is reminiscent of Garden of Earthly Delights (1504) by Bosch. The chaos, the detail, the subdued coloring, the natural elements, strangeness. Something to think about when discussing Dutch art.

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How it influences Fleet Foxes (2008)

The overall feel of this album is very chill, pretty, the songs sound almost echoey.

The vocalist for the band commented, “We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do, and my brother had been working out some stuff, when I saw that Bruegel thpainting in a book my girlfriend had. I liked that it had a really intriguing meaning, like there’s a story to each little scene. Which I just felt fitting for that record- dense but unified, not a collage or anything. And I liked its Where’s Waldo quality, that it was something you could look at for a long time on a vinyl sleeve and find new little things.”

I think this quote explains it pretty well. It makes their album stand out on a variety of levels.

  1. The art is distinctive and interesting in that there is a lot to look at
  2. Who would think to put 16th century art from the Netherlands on the cover of an album?
  3. It gives people something to analyze and appreciate

The music on the album is relaxed enough that the listener could put it on and look at the cover art. Seems like a good time to me.

Songs to listen to

Quiet Houses

Ragged Wood

Oliver James

All of the songs on this album are lovely. These are just the three that stuck out to me.

*The album is available on Spotify

Image Credit:

Netherlandish Proverbs

Garden of Earthly Delights

Fleet Foxes