Saturday, November 28, 2009

Assignment: abstract relief sculpture assemblage

Advanced 3D Art

Margaret Mellis, 'F', 1997

This will be your next project. You will create an abstract relief sculpture. It will be an assemblage sculpture, made largely out of wood. Today's blog post will introduce you to this project.

Please read this blog post and look at the pictures. Then, complete today's online assignment by answering the questions below (farther down, near the bottom of this post).

(Note: you will receive an handout with specific instructions for making your sculpture.)

First, let's review some terms:

Abstract art: pictures or sculptures that may be based on actual objects, but where the objects have been simplified, stylized, distorted, or otherwise altered to the point where they may become difficult or impossible to recognize. (The term abstract art is also sometimes used to describe non-objective art-- see below.)

Non-objective art:
pictures or sculptures that do not have any recognizable objects whatsoever. Non-objective art frequently focuses on things like color, shape, texture, and so forth.

Relief: sculpture that is attached to and projects outward from a wall or panel.
There are three kinds of relief sculpture— low, high, and sunken.
Low relief projects only slightly from its background; high relief projects farther out from its background. Sunken relief does not project at all—instead, shapes and forms are defined by carving into the surface. Some of the earliest forms of sculpture involve carving into various surfaces made of stone.

Assemblage: a type of modern sculpture where a number of objects and/or materials are combined and "assembled" to create a work of art. Objects/materials are often "found", but materials can also be things like wood that is cut to a particular size and shape.

A few historical examples of relief sculpture

Ancient Egypt, c.1500 b.c.

Assyrian Empire (Iraq), 665 b.c.

Ancient Greece, c.300 b.c.

Mayan (Mexico), 709 a.d.

Dogon, Mali (Africa), 19th c.

Art Deco relief on a building in Miami, FL, c.1930s

Contemporary (modern) abstract relief sculpture

Today's online assignment: we will be focusing on the sculpture of Margaret Mellis. Go to this website, read at least the first paragraph, and look at the images. Then answer the questions below. To answer the questions, make a comment with your answers. Number your answers, and SIGN YOUR NAME if you want to receive credit!

Margaret Mellis, Rust and Yellow, 1990

Questions for today:

1. What materials did Mellis use to create these sculptures? (be specific!)

2. How did she design/create these sculptures?

3. How are the pieces assembled?

4. Look at the picture titled Detail of Studio. What does this picture suggest in regards to the way she made her assemblage sculptures?

5. Select one of the sculptures by Mellis. Give its title and describe it in detail.

Next step: start thinking about what you might do for this project. Note that Margaret Mellis' sculptures are made out of "found" wood, while most of the others shown above are made out of wood that has been cut to size and shape. How might you approach this project? Where could you find some old pieces of wood?


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ugly Jugs, Face Jugs, Face Pots

Advanced 3D Art

This is your next project. You will make a pot with a face on it. These types of pots have been known as Face Pots, Face Jugs, Ugly Jugs, and sometimes as Voodoo Jugs. Although pots with faces on them go back to ancient times in a number of places around the world, in America, these pots are mainly associated with African-American potters in the American South. The exact origin of these pots is not fully known, but seem to originate with African-American slaves prior to the Civil War.

It is possible that in a tradition brought over from Africa, ugly jugs were made to scare away evil spirits from peoples' graves. They were also apparently used to store "moonshine" whiskey-- putting an ugly face on a liquor jug could have been meant to scare children and keep them away from the whiskey. Whatever the reason, these jugs present a unique means of expression for the potter. Artists in the south and elsewhere have continued to create this type of work up to the present day.

Your assignment for today:

1. Go to the website below, and read the article titled History of the African-American Face Jug, by potter Jim McDowell.

2. Search for images of ugly jugs by using google image search or something similar. Make a comment on this blog post, and provide links to the images that you want the teacher to see. You must provide at least three images; four or five would be even better. Make sure that you put your name on your comment-- if there is no name, you will not receive credit.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Assignment: Papier-mâché Animals

You will making a sculpture of an animal out of Papier-mâché. It can be “free-standing” or you may put it on a base (cardboard, wood, etc). Size: approx. 12”-18” high or long.

Papier-mâché (French for “chewed-up paper” due to its appearance) is a material that consists of pieces of paper stuck together using a wet paste. The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries.

Tomorrow in class you will receive a handout with detailed step-by-step instructions and photo illustrations.

Your assignment for today-- read carefully:

1. Decide what kind of animal you would like to make a sculpture of.

2. Search the Internet for reference photos--
a. photos of actual animals
b. photos of sculptures of animals, realistic or stylized (They can be made from any materials, not necessarily Papier-mâché)

3. (optional) Download a few photos you like, and save them to your AAW folder (or e-mail them to yourself if you like-- store in Photobucket, whatever works for you).

4. Print two or three pictures-- here in the lab or on your own time, but bring them to class tomorrow!

5. Make a comment on this blog post, and copy/paste links to at least four reference photos:
--Two photos of real animals
--Two photos of sculptures of animals
To receive credit, include your name
with your comment. Full name, or name/initial. For example: Reuben O.


Optional for today, if you are finished with your comment and links....

Here is the information you will be receiving tomorrow if you would like to take a look:

Newspaper, paste (flour/water), masking tape, latex primer, acrylic paint

Papier-mâché (French for “chewed-up paper” due to its appearance) is a material that consists of pieces of paper stuck together using a wet paste. The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries. We will be using the traditional paste made from a mixture of flour and water.

1. Decide on what animal you would like your sculpture to be of.
2. Do some research—locate pictures of what this type of animal looks like.
3. Get copies of pictures—from books, magazines, or online (print them).
4. Do some more research—find pictures of other animal sculptures (papier-mâché or other materials). Maybe get copies of some of these as well.

1. You may want to make a sketch of the way you want your sculpture to look.
2. Begin construction by making the main body shape. Crumple some newspaper into the appropriate shape, and wrap it with masking tape. (You do not have to cover the whole shape with tape, just use enough to keep it together.)
3. Using the same method, create arms, legs, head, tail, etc. (If they are really narrow, you may want to use a heavy wire or coat hanger inside the paper to give it strength.)
4. Attach limbs and head to body with masking tape.
5. Make sure that your sculpture is fairly solid, and that it looks pretty much how you want it to be.

Add papier-mâché:
1. Before you start, make sure that your table is covered, so you don’t get paste all over the table!
2. Mix up some paste, using around 1 cup water to 1 cup flour. Put the flour and water in a bowl; use a whisk or fork to mix—mix until smooth, no lumps. Your paste should be kind of like pancake batter—not too thick, but not too runny.
3. Tear a bunch of strips of newspaper. Make them about one inch wide, and four to six inches long. (tear paper from top to bottom, and it will tear more or less evenly.)
4. One piece at a time, dip the paper into the paste making sure it is totally covered—then, squeeze out the excess paste by running the paper through a couple of your fingers.
5. Apply the paper to your sculpture, and smooth it out with your fingers.
6. Continue this process until the whole sculpture has been covered. You will be overlapping your paper to some extent; try not to make it more than 3 or 4 layers thick at this point. Don’t over-do it; if it stays wet for too long, your sculpture may develop mold.
7. Allow sculpture to dry completely, typically 24 hours.
8. Repeat this process at least two more times, more if necessary.
9. By now your sculpture should be nice and firm, with a hard surface. You may use sandpaper if you want to smooth the surface a bit, but you may also want to leave it “as is”, with a nice texture on it. (If using sandpaper, make sure that your sculpture is totally dry!)

1. Paint your sculpture with a coat of laxtex primer. Let it dry. You may need a second coat of primer.
2. Use acrylic paint to color your sculpture, adding stripes, patterns etc. You have a couple options for painting your sculpture:
a. realistic colors and patterns
b. decorative colors and patterns
3. If desired, a final coat of acrylic matte medium or Mod Podge may be used.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Online research assignment: Ceramic bottles

You are going to be researching photos of ceramic bottles online, and posting your research on the 3D Art blog. The bottles you select should have a high level of artistic quality.

Open a second window (ctrl+N)

In the second window, go to

At the top of the window, click on “images”

Do a “google image search” for: ceramic bottle, clay bottle, stoneware bottle, etc.

Find some examples of bottles that you like, and follow the link to the website where the picture is located.(ceramic/art bottles, not wine bottles etc.)

Copy the url (web address)

Go back to the 3D Art Blog in the other window

Click on Comments. This will take you to the “Post a Comment” window

Paste the url of the photo/website you want me to look at.

Repeat this process

You are required to show at least three examples, so you will need to choose three pictures that you like, and paste the url for each of the three pictures/websites into your “comment” on the blog.

So, your “comment” should consist of the three urls/addresses, and YOUR NAME.

(I have posted the first comment, so you can see what I am looking for. Of course, you need to find your own bottles, don't use the ones I posted!)

If you finish early, please either 1) look at more ceramics websites, or 2) start searching for "assemblage art".