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Finding New Brushstrokes

By Kayla 

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve visited a museum. Walking around the galleries, I love to take in the artwork around me and explore the paintings that most deeply resonate with me. The pandemic has changed this experience, but it hasn’t erased it completely.

I recently visited a small art gallery at the Orange County Great Park. The gallery’s current exhibition delves into the theme “Home,” showcasing local artists’ interpretations of the complexities and comforts of personal and collective homes. The pieces ranged from a wide-scale mural highlighting iconic global structures to ceramic sculptures of strawberry Pocky. The normal bustling from room to room is nowhere to be found, and the only clicks of camera shutters that I can hear are from my own phone. The emptiness of the gallery is odd, but simultaneously rejuvenating. With COVID protocols in place, the gallery allowed me to absorb the artworks’ messages deeply and reflect on my emotions. Art is a communicative discipline, and I enjoyed taking my time to explore the exhibit.

The gallery reignited my love for art history. I took an art history course in high school, and I want to continue learning about the subject. Curbside pick-up at my local library and YouTube art documentaries help me learn as much as I can about incredible artists and art movements. In order to grow as an artist and dancer, I know that consuming a variety of art forms will stimulate my creativity. I’ve really enjoyed watching livestreamed performances by the Royal Ballet, and I’ve started comparing the fiction books I read to their television counterparts. Investigating this myriad of art forms is propelling me to develop my creativity further.

With more free time during my gap year, I’ve been able to explore my creativity in different ways. I don’t typically create hands-on art projects, but I’ve delved into a couple new activities during my free time. I started an embroidery project, which I’ve found requires a lot of precision (albeit a different type of precision than what I use when I dance). I also began a relaxing painting project, and I’ve continued to experiment with classical and contemporary choreography as a dancer.

Finding new artists and meaningful creations inspires me to reflect on my own creativity, and to keep forging my artistic identity.

Embracing My Artistic Side

By Camille

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had begun taking an online Adobe Illustrator course. I have now finished the class, and I wanted to share some of my pieces! Over the span of the course, each week we were given three assignments and a longer project to complete. By the end of the course I amassed a portfolio of work showcasing the different techniques we studied. 

I also wanted to use this post to highlight my progression! I’ve never really considered visual art to be my forte. This was highlighted by going to an arts high school, where we were separated by discipline. Admiring the work of the art students, I always considered the visual arts to be outside of my realm. Music and dance were always how I expressed myself. 

Going into my gap year, I set the goal of spending part of my time furthering the things I already love doing and using the rest to explore things outside of my comfort zone. This class definitely helped push me beyond my comfort zone and also allowed me to develop a new skill along the way. In school, I became wired to work towards concrete criteria that became familiar overtime. For this class, I was suddenly being evaluated on my use of perspective, incorporation of shadow, balance of tones and shades, artistic vision- concepts that were completely foreign at the start and seemed somewhat impossible to execute. 

To end the class, the task for our final was to design an imaginary world for a character to inhabit. The goal was to tie together much of the work we had done with character design, landscape, and typography. At first, I struggled with conceptualizing something imaginary that I wanted to work on. Perhaps more than ever, reality- and what it looks like today- has been at the forefront of my mind. After some deliberation, I decided to use the Blue Devil as my character and transport elements of reality to an imaginary location. My final piece features elements of Duke’s campus in space- a loose interpretation of things that really do exist. Besides being fun to make, it showed me how far I had come in a little over a month. Things that I had struggled with at first were second nature, and my work time had shortened dramatically. Looking forward to the future, I am excited to put the skills I have developed to use, as I now have the foundation needed to design posters, create business cards, and develop other versatile vector visuals. 

 Below is our very first assignment, where we learned to create basic shapes, and the two art boards I turned in for the final.