Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In Which I find Old Art from my First Semester of College. And they turn out to be mostly Old Shames...

"You birds have a hundred thousand bad drawings in you; start getting rid of them now."
— Chuck Jones, quoting one of his art school instructors

I should preface this by saying that the basement is mostly clean now.
Also, as you've noticed, I don't usually comment on current events. But given that my aunt in Florida called us this weekend to ask if we were okay, I think maybe this calls for it.
We're fine. The pipe burst is mostly affecting the city of Boston proper, but the water supply to the suburbs has been diverted to an alternate reservoir. The only thing is, it hasn't been treated to kill the possible naturally occurring bacteria, so we shouldn't drink it in large quantities unless we want to crap out a kidney later (obviously younger and older people, and people who have very little built-up tolerance to bacteria shouldn't drink anything but bottled or boiled water at all). We can do pretty much anything else with the water, though I've held off laundry and washing dishes for a while just to be on the safe side.
The thing that gets me is the reason why I hate televised news. You'd think our tap water had been hooked up to a vat of battery acid the way they've been going on about it. It's just lake water, calm the heck down!

Generally speaking, I made better art in high school than I did in my first year in college. That may sound counterintuitive, but I'm pretty sure you're going to agree with me when you look at what I dug up.
I had completely forgotten about the paintings and drawings you are about to see. I thought they were lost forever and, honestly, I wasn't too sad about that. These are probably my least favorite college pieces, which is why this is the only place you'll ever see them online.
Remember when I found the painting from high school and said that it made me realize just how much figurative space there is between the person who drew it and the person currently looking at it? And how the scary part comes in when I realize both those people are me? Yeah. In hindsight, that painting was whimsical and cute. A lot of these paintings are freakin' scary.
(It should also be noted that these were all created in a small dorm room with thin, thin walls -- and the guy who lived on the other side of the wall liked to blast his favorite album over and over and over. That album was "My Own Prison".)

This is pretty typical of my early-college output. I obviously hadn't got used to using watercolors yet; many of the characters blend into each other and into the background. Some of those character designs are just awful, but I kinda like the werewolf guy in the lower-right. I'll be on Team him.
The assignment was to design a set of paper goods for a Halloween party. One of the requirements was the snazzy display you see this piece mounted upon.
It should be noted that our professor was an older gentleman. According to him, in our professional careers, we'd always have to send the original artwork through the mail, mounted in such intricately cut matboard displays. That's the way he did it. It was 1998, and as far as he was concerned - and WE were concerned- computers were for writing essays and playing "Doom" and "Tetris", not for making art. Certainly, never for *delivering* art. That's unpossible!
(This has been your Funny Aneurysm Moment for the day.)

I remember mentioning in an earlier post that I was not blessed with the ability to create three-dimensional artwork. These guys, made for a project in high school, attest to this.
They aren't the only sculpture I found. This next one comes from one of the strangest aspects of my first year of college. The way UMass' Fine Arts track went, we were all required to take both 2-D and 3-D art classes no matter what our actual major was. You wound up with sculptors struggling to paint and painters having to try and wield sculpting tools without losing a finger. A couple of students in my classes actually complained about how pointless this was, and the professors countered this with, "Oh, well, we wanted to let you try out all kinds of art! So you're going to spend your entire first year of college doing stuff you hate! Misery builds character!"
So that's why I -- the only 2-D major in a class of 3-D majors (whew, that was all kinds of fun) -- had to spend four hours a week building things that *sort of* resembled what they were meant to be out of matboard and balsa wood and tons and tons of hot glue gun glue, instead of taking that computer graphics class that looked cool but always filled up fast and ran the same time as something pointless I had to take in order to graduate. (This is your second Funny Aneurysm Moment of the day.)
Anyway, here's what I made when I was told to do a relief sculpture out of clay, which would be the mold for the plaster final version seen here:

I am very, very curious to know if anybody out there gets what I was going for here. Because *NOBODY* in my class did.
So what was I producing in the 2-D class?

OK. This image was not my idea, it's the result of Professor Meddling. MY original version of this "parody a print ad" assignment looked more like this. Ironically, this is much closer to what I can do now:

College Stuff - Parody a Print Ad
Guess what version I like better. Go on!
And let me say right now that the "Professor Approved" version (which I never questioned at the time and probably should have) is NOT the most embarrassing thing I'm going to share with you today...

I don't even know! I DON'T EVEN KNOW!!!

(Trish goes to the fridge, pours herself a pint of
UFO White out of the Growler, and downs half of it in preparation for this next...

In case it isn't obvious, this isn't the whole painting (my first -and last- ink wash). It's just a small excerpt. You HAVE to trust me when I tell you that this is the LEAST scary and/or inappropriate part of this illustration I could have posted online for all to see. Of all the old art we've seen today, this is the only piece that genuinely made me upset and ashamed.

Now, let me assure you that this was also part of an assignment and it also was not my idea. I remember the context rather vividly and I
really did not want to make this drawing; I don't think anyone else in my class was really thrilled about this assignment either. There wasn't anything we could do without getting really offensive.
The assignment was to do a political cartoon about a then-recent historical event (circa late-summer 1997, and that's the only context you're getting). And when I say "then-recent", I mean it. Like, it happened
the week before we got the assignment, WAY too soon for us innocent little illustration newbies to really digest how we actually felt about the event. Maybe professional political cartoonists eventually develop the ability to immediately comment on something that is traumatic on a very large scale; we sure hadn't. Hence the monstrosity you see before you. Ugh. Just ugh.
I need to go to the
Old Shame TV Tropes page, so I know everybody has something like this. Also...


Sketch of the Day!

Actually, I'm going to cheat and show off a finished piece I really like. Look at this classy Icthyosaur. I sketched him before I came up with my final idea for Art Evolved's Icthyosaur Gallery. I still liked him, so I went ahead and brought him to final:
Classy Ichthyosaur
Note: In case there are any art directors out there,
ignore everything else on this page; this is what I can do now.


Zachary said...

Love the ichthyosaur. Brings to mind the Velociraptor in the Jurassic Park parody on "The Critic."

John Hammond: You may have us, but you'll never get off the island!
Raptor: (English accent) I beg to differ. You see, the other raptors and I have constructed a crude suspension bridge to Venezuela. Once there, I shall lie low and assume odd jobs under the name 'Mr Pilkington.' But perhaps I've said too much..."

The relief piece makes me think of a Cambrian seabed? Maybe?

Trish said...

^^ You're close. The relief piece is meant to be a fossil (cause is there anything else besides fossils when you think of reliefs? Apparently, yes.)

Zachary said...

Oh, I see it now. It's a pterosaur. Kinda. Yay?

Trish said...

Oh yes, it's a Pterosaur. Though it's a certain specific fictional Pterosaur.

Zach said...


Trish said...

Older, and remarkably *less* scientifically accurate than Aerodactyl.

(Here's a hint: I'm an 80's kid and there was a big to-do that caused this character's show to be canceled. And I never in a million years expected it to be obscure then or now.)