In interpreting the theme try to be as imaginative and creative as possible. Being imaginative and creative does not just mean thinking of a brilliant and unique image or form. It is as much involved with your ability to use your medium in traditional or new ways, to use more than one medium in mixed and unexpected ways, your willingness to change dramatically the scale of images within your work, your sensitivity to the visual appearances of things and your receptiveness towards “accidents” which may occur in your work and its preparation.
Here are some ideas to think about:
Light and Dark Contrasts
- The contrast of light and dark has been used traditionally throughout the history of art and design. In drawings and paintings light and shadow have been carefully placed and balanced. Artists such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio are usually thought of when considering the effect of light and dark in pictures.
- The effect of light and dark is not restricted to pictures. Sculpture and architecture often depend upon the effect of this contrast for their strength and appearance.
In the same way, the contrast is present in images other than drawings and paintings. Film, video and television images are just as dependent upon the effective use of this contrast.
Black and White Contrasts
- Black and white have been used in contrasting way by artists and designers over the ages. Consider works such as silhouettes, lino-cuts, stencils and collages, or the deliberate black and white effect in the work of artists such as Aubrey Beardsley and Franz Kline.
Contrasts of Color
- Most artists use color in their work. Some use the “theory of color” in deliberate ways to create effects.
- The theory surrounding “complementary colors” is an obvious example. This depends upon the
observation that the three “primary colors”, red, yellow and blue, each has a completely opposite color which is formed by mixing the other two primaries together. Thus red is considered opposite to green, yellow to purple and blue to orange. In paintings by Pissarro, for example, the effect of green foliage is often enhanced by small dashes of red amongst the brush strokes use to draw a bush or a tree. Cezanne used the opposite colour of an object in the shadow it cast. As a consequence it is possible to see lines of blue in the shadow under an orange where the fruit stands on a table or plate in some of his still-lifes.
- Other color contrasts include cold and warm colours (see the work of an artist such as Nicholas de Stael), as well as the simple fact that red is different to blue and blue to black or brown, and so on. Study of the work of artists such as Matisse, Gauguin and Mondrian will make this clear to you.
Contrasts of Appearance
- Different shapes are important in art and design. It is possible to use a family of shapes, such as the roundness of plates, cups and saucers, and the rectangles of walls and roofs. In such a family, the planned introduction of a contrasting shape, such as a square.
- It is possible to use a family of shapes, such as the roundness of plates, cups and saucers,
and the rectangles of walls and roofs. In such a family, the planned introduction of a
different sort of shape creates a contrast.
- Most towns and rural areas abound in the unexpected juxtaposition of things in the
environment. The visual lines of a facade of a Peranakan terrace of houses confused by
parked motor vehicles, the old and the new buildings viewed from Boat Quay, or the
HDB’s built next to the jungle provide examples of sharp environmental contrasts.
Contrasts of Art and design Materials
- Each medium used in Art and Design has its own unique appearance.
The contrast of these media can be the basis of your work.
- You could experiment doing the same scene in a different medium each time, to see what
influences the medium has on the visual effect of your subject. Study the pastel work of
Degas, the watercolours of Egon Schiele, the oils ofSickert, the collages of Kurt Schwitters and the sculptures of Giacometti to see the distinctiveness of the different materials in the hands of experienced artists.
- Some media in art and design contrast in a different way, in that they will not mix
physically with each other. You could do work which combines materials, which do not
easily mix, such as wax and watercolor
Make drawings, take photographs, collect reference material and so on, so that your ideas can be clearly seen and understood by your art teacher.
You may work from any of these ideas but try to add other ideas which are your own and work from these if you prefer them.
It is not only the shapes of things which are different and intrigue artists, sculptors and designers. Apart from the differences between the colors of things there are the differences caused by the materials things are made from. Thus metal looks different to wood, and wood to fabric, and so on.
Johannes Itten used to get his students in the Bauhaus to do exercises experimenting with media to show the differences between the different materials. Your teacher can explain this to you, but it is a fascinating exercise to try to show the difference between a hairy surface, a wizened or wrinkled surface and a smooth shiny surface, as well as many others.
Sometimes the unexpected contrasts with the customary coziness of our level of acceptance and disturbs us.
Consider the fur lined cup and saucer sculpture by Meret Oppenheim.
Contrasts of Events, Time and Place
It can be interesting to research how similar events, such as weddings or funerals, are carried out in different parts of the world or amongst different religions. Their contrasts are likely to make powerful images for artwork.
In the same way, you could study how the appearance of something such as coal mining or “wash day” has changed over the years, with the ever increasing development of technology.
EXPLORING AND DEVELOPING THE THEME
Many artists show in their work the contrast between:
LARGE AND SMALL
HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL
REAL AND UNREAL
YOUNG AND OLD
LAND AND SKY
CARE AND NEGLECT
NEAR AND FAR
DAY AND NIGHT
OLD AND NEW
CURVED AND STRAIGHT
MALE AND FEMALE
INSIDE AND OUT