Salvador Dali – Creative Minds Art History Project

Yikes, it’s been a whole month since posting last! My blog isn’t the only thing I’ve neglected … I must tattle on myself and admit that I gave up on Inktober after week 15! A half marathon if you will … perhaps I should have only committed to every other day! I have kept up with doing art every day though, which was the entire goal of Inktober to begin with. I was finding myself in the sticky situation of having to de-prioritize commissions and actual projects with deadlines in order to get my Inktober illustration finished for each day, which seemed counterproductive in the end. I do have a lot of fun art history based projects queuing up to share with you, and today our inspiration is an artist from my favorite genre of art: surrealism … Salvador Dali!salvadore-dali-simpsons-persistence-of-memory

Dali is best known as “that melting clock guy” from his famous piece “The Persistence of Memory” that has now become a part of popular culture, parodied regularly. However, he also had a thing for tall and spindly creatures as evidenced from two more of his more well known works, “The Elephants” and “The Eye of Surrealist Time”.

tall frameMy students in the Artshop Program love drawing animals, and the idea of depicting real things in a distorted way by stretching out their features was a concept that would be easy for everyone to grasp, so this seemed like a great jumping off point for making Dali’s work accessible.
Every work of art looks better behind glass, from works created by a master to works created by someone who specializes in stick figures. Though not every drawing or painting has to be framed especially in a classroom/learning setting, it’s nice every once in awhile. Pro-tip! Frames are expensive, but often times nice frames with ugly artwork in them can be snagged for cheaper than so-so frames that are empty at your local art supply store. These long, framed pastel-dyed crinkly paper guys were clearanced out, because this dentist-office-esque art is really bland and kind of hideous, not something that people would be racing to put on their wall at home. So, we got some custom dimension frames perfect for this tall animals project for super cheap, and just discarded the mass produced “art” inside! This project could be executed with any drawing or painting materials, but I had my students use watercolor markers because it was a medium not all of them had the opportunity to try before,  and the markers would allow us to get bright, saturated, unnatural colors like the deep reds and golds behind Dali’s elephants.

They found a photographic reference of an animal they liked for their subject, and then were encouraged to sketch on scrap paper and brainstorm how they could distort the image. They then made a pencil drawing on watercolor paper pre-cut to size, and used a sharpie pen to outline over the pencil so they wouldn’t lose their guide as they added the ink. The images were filled in with color and water, and there you have it! A simple, yet beautiful and intriguing end result where students had to challenge themselves to distort reality in an effective way. All ages and abilities could take this project in their own direction.

Happy creating! Remember, you are the artist, so you get to determine how you portray your world. Don’t be afraid to play with reality a bit ;).

 

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Art Discussion – “God As The Artist”

I have always loved paper dolls, although they were a bit hard to find already even when I was young. I used to get American Girl Magazine in the mail, and each issue would come with a set of punch-out paper dolls based on REAL girls, with an outfit from present day as well as 3 more from women 1,2, and 3 generations back in her family. The dolls were my absolute favorite part, and I really wish I would have kept them now. The American Girl paper doll sets were the only ones I really played with, because more than just the different outfits to try on, I was captivated by all of the different PEOPLE!

This brings me back … I definitely had this one – along with near 50 others.

I would lay them all out and marvel over all of the differences – in build, in facial structure, hair color, skin color, eye color, smile … and no two people look exactly alike, even twins; how can this be? It blew my little 8-year-old mind.

Fast forward about a decade and a half later, and I got this crazy idea – what if I made a paper doll in which the “doll” was a skeletal structure and the “clothes” were the skin that goes over them? I adore detailing internal structures of both humans and animals. I swear if computers were never invented and they still needed people to hand draw the illustrations for medical textbooks, I would be your girl (then again, I would not be typing this blog either. No lie, I love technology. Goodbye obscure dream career, definitely worth the tradeoff.).

"God As The Artist"; bristol board, ink, acrylic, corrugated cardboard

“God As The Artist”; bristol board, ink, acrylic, corrugated cardboard

At first this was just something quick I was going to do for fun for myself, but then I had to stop and think about why I was so excited about this idea. Both human beings and animals truly are moving, breathing works of art. They are living sculptures, filled with beautiful angles, textures and colors, and intricacies. We tend to idealize one type of beauty and overlook the artistry in anything that lies outside of that predetermined, narrow field. You would never walk into a gallery and say “My favorite color is violet, so I’m only going to look at the violet paintings. Any others, no matter how interesting or skillfully rendered, are completely worthless.” Yet how often do we write off other people in this same way?

Back view, depicted as a wall in an abandoned house complete with skeletal themed artwork and wallpaper print, "We are all living sculptures"

Back view, depicted as a wall in an abandoned house complete with skeletal themed artwork and wallpaper print, “We are all living sculptures”

"God As The Artist" aerial view

“God As The Artist” aerial view

I decided to include animals as well, because I really think we don’t have enough awe for how amazing they actually are. We get pumped about the unfamiliar and exotic, like lions and tigers at a zoo, but neglect to equally appreciate those living in our own backyards. In general, we kind of only notice animals when we need them for something, otherwise they are either an annoyance or just part of the furniture. I challenge you to go out for a walk on a nice day and pretend you are an alien from another planet who has never seen earth and its creatures before. Then really look, especially at the birds. Think of how tiny their skeletal system is, how it must interlock so that the framework of their wings can move as they need to in order to ascend into the air. Look at the colors and textures of their feathers. If that isn’t art, I don’t know what is. I guess that’s why I’ve never been one for hunting. There are increasingly less beautiful things in this world, why would you want to destroy something beautiful?

We are the most complex kinetic sculptures ever formed, and being alive surrounded by all this living and breathing wonder truly is a privilege. I forget that sometimes; we all do.

I still love drawing paper dolls for people to play with. Maybe every grown-up feels this way, but I’ve noticed that dolls, and the so-called “girl” sections in toy stores in general, kind of suck now. If I’m going to complain, I suppose I also have to do something about it! Since kids aren’t likely to play with skeletons, and also this crazy awkward giggling thing tends to happen when they are confronted with things like “boobs”, I have made many more child friendly sets since this one. I have two types of sets, one in which each girl has an “aspiration” theme (athlete, artist, chef, scientist …) and a pet, and another fantasy hero set in which your girl can save the world in various time periods and universes, from an imaginary world where superpowers exist to medieval Europe (Upon watching me draw the fantasy outfits, my boyfriend commented in surprise, “A girl knight?” and I swear to god, I almost clocked him. Exactly the kind of preconceptions I am trying to combat here ^_^.) Basically, I want to represent a wide variety of girls with a wide variety of personalities, styles, interests, talents, and dreams. I’m not done yet; as I touched on earlier, there are innumerable different types of people, that’s what’s so cool! But I’m working on it.

Zooey and Genesis Paper Doll Set

Zooey and Genesis Paper Doll Set

Fantasy Hero Layla Paper Doll Set

Fantasy Hero Layla Paper Doll Set

These paper doll sets and many more are available in my ebay store and etsy shop. If there’s a set you’d like to see, let me know! I take suggestions.