Thursday, February 26, 2009

Postage Stamp Piece Write Up

The idea was to "design 4 grouped postage stamps on the subject of A Celebration of Cultural Diversity in the United States. " We were to "choose a cultural group found in the US, and select 4 aspects of the culture that have been integrated into the broader American culture."

My culture choice was American Indian. The cultural aspects I chose for the stamps were:

Food (stamp design—the 3 sisters—corn/beans/squash) These and other vegetables (as well as the techniques used to grow them) were introduced to European colonists by American Indians, and remain a part the US diet today.

Native Medicine (stamp design—yarrow plant, medicine rattle, "The Good Red Road") American Indians introduced European colonists to native medicinal plants. At least 200 wild medicinal plants & formulas were introduced to colonists, and many are still listed as medicines in the United States Pharmacopoeia. The medicine rattle and "The Good Red Road"represent the general holistic view of traditional native medicine— treating mind, body and spirit, and maintaining the philosophy of a proper "life path" that guards against illness and/or facilitates healing. After the introduction of "mainstream" medicine, traditional methods fell out of favor within the general US population. Within the last 10-15 years, however, there has been a consistent nationwide trend toward the use of "alternative" and "complimentary" therapies, methods which are rooted in traditional holistic and herbal practices.

Native Design (stamp design—traditional, inter-tribal designs from pottery, textiles and paintings) Many of these designs are found present-day in non-native produced textiles for clothing and furniture, home decor (southwest motifs), ceramics, and jewelry.

Lacrosse (stamp design-traditional hand-made lacrosse stick and ball) America's first sport. Played by American Indian tribes across the US as early as the mid-1600's. There are 477 college and college club teams and 14oo high school women's teams, as well as 400 college teams and 1200 high school men's teams in the US, today.

Postage Stamp Piece

Mind map, from sketchbook—favorites of stamps that appealed to me for one reason or another.

Thumbnail groupings, looking for the right combination.

Final drawing mock-ups with text.
Graphite on tracing paper, manipulated in Photoshop & Illustrator.


Final version of stamps.
Watercolor paintings (each stamp 6x6") on Arches Aquarelle 300lb. cold press paper (this stuff is great!), digitally re-sized & manipulated in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Final version: post-critique. Slight shading added in upper right stamp, 42USA text reduced, and text blocks shifted slightly, drop shadow density increased, color block background removed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Death Penalty Opinion Piece Commentary

The death penalty. What do I think of it? Am I for it or against it? For me, it isn't clear cut. But then, I'm a Libra, and I rarely find anything like this to be clear cut. Libras like me have a hard time. We weigh, we pace, we try to balance, we get frustrated and wad things up and pitch them physically and metaphorically in the general direction of an overflowing trash can. We worry and fret and wonder why we've been railroaded into a position where we have to actually take one side or the other and stick with it, because we can often see both sides of an argument, and to us, they frequently both make some sense. We spend way too much time looking back and forth, and up and down, and in and out, losing hours and hours while we ponder—our heads threatening to explode from the efforts of our deliberations, as we inevitably cry out to the heavens in desperation for the gift of an infallible cosmic 8-Ball to rescue us from our fear of commitment to the "wrong" side of an issue. But I digress.

How do I feel about capital punishment? To kill or not to kill, is there an easy answer? Arguments for and against capital punishment find common roots in issues ranging from civil rights to religion. Is there a point at which the offenses we commit become so grievous that we must allow the life and liberty we enjoy as citizens to be extinguished? When we take away the rights of others permanently, should our own rights be ignored, as well? And where does religion fit into the puzzle? "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a very large statement that does not appear to deal so much in specificity. After all, it doesn't say, Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless (You Think) the Other Guy Kills First, but we certainly seem to use this type of reasoning when we're waging war on each other—on global and local scales. It doesn't say Thou Shalt Not Kill Only People, But the Furry, Feathered, Scaled and Leafy Things Are Fair Game—and we're certainly involved in substantial carnage within the animal and plant kingdoms. It doesn't say Thou Shalt Not Kill Only Members of One's Own Race, Religion, Gender or Socioeconomic Group, either. So if Thou Shalt Not Kill means don't do it to nothing, nobody, ever, then haven't we already screwed up royally?

I loathe the fact that we have to have a death penalty. I hate that in response to heinous acts of violence, we take it upon ourselves, collectively, to snuff out even more lives—sometimes traumatizing additional innocents (an addition to those already severely traumatized by the aforementioned heinous acts of violence). It's frightening to me that under our current system, it's possible (and documented) that not only are innocent people sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit, but that in many instances these errors can go completely undetected (except, of course by those wrongly convicted, and the actual perpetrators of the crimes). I find it ridiculous that in the United States (a country which considers itself—for right or wrong—to be the policing agent of the world), the law enforcement and judicial systems (where justice is supposed to be blind), do not appear to utilize standard operating procedures across social, economic, gender and racial lines. Nevertheless, all that being said, I absolutely believe that in this day and age, the death penalty is unavoidably necessary. But for the most part, I believe from arrest to conviction to sentencing to execution, it's a crap shoot, a gamble, and I have to wonder—who's winning?

Death Penalty Opinion Piece

I just noticed the pics of the painting look a little wonky on the left side...they got a little distorted in the photography process.

Final Painting, second go-around. I increased the contrast with more layers of watercolor, and added gouache on top of the red and blue. The red and blue still need to be lightened up some; I didn't quite get the colors right.

Final painting, first go-around. Watercolor on very annoying board. Critique results: 1)in some places the contrast of light and dark needs to be stronger. 2) the brightness of the straight-from-the-tube red and blue needs to be toned down some, and these areas made a little lighter, even.

This is final sketch number two.

This is final sketch number one.

These thumbnails came after the initial bunch. The first batch didn't seem to communicate my ideas as well as I needed them to.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Watercolor Site and Hue Test

This is a link to a site with some pretty good watercolor and gouache info:

This is a link that was sent to me by one of the Contemporary Realist Academy artists:

This one takes you to a world map; you choose your continent, then choose your country & it'll take you to the test. I thought it was pretty cool. My score was a 7...I missed some values in the mid-range. :( I guess I need to work harder on my expensive art school education.