Art & Design

Holding My Own Hand

This week, I will be talking about extraordinary women in art. I thought it’ll be a great opportunity to highlight the women who’ve inspired me to dig deeper into art and my voice as an artist. Today, it’s all about Frida.

I was blessed to have an elementary school art teacher who loved culture. Her room was surrounded with posters and books of various artists and styles from all over the world. Naturally, I absorbed them all. One of the posters I’ll never forget is Frida Kahlo’s, “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.” I was (and still is) captivated by her imagery, color palette, and the honesty about who she was as a woman, a Latina, and a person who lived to challenge herself artistically.

The painting I’ll be writing about is the 1939 piece titled, “The Two Fridas”. This painting was created shortly after her divorce from Diego Rivera. It depicts the Frida who is heartbroken (left) and the Frida who is independent (right). This piece reflects her loneliness and depression from Rivera, but with their extremely complicated relationship, can’t really say anyone was shocked with the divorce. Regardless, she was in love with him ; mainly with the connection she had with him on a soulful, spiritual level. Along with that, their love of art, culture commonality and evolution of the modern world.

From fridakahlo.org, it states, “In this painting, the two Fridas are holding hands. They both have visible hearts and the heart of the traditional Frida is cut and torn open. The main artery, which comes from the torn heart down to the right hand of the traditional Frida, is cut off by the surgical pincers held in the lap of the traditional Frida. The blood keeps dripping on her white dress and she is in danger of bleeding to death. The stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida’s inner turmoil.”

Knowing about Frida’s background, she has had her fair share of heart-break and trials prior to her divorce. From her bus accident to multiple miscarriages, Frida showed us her feelings through paintings, so the painting of “The Two Fridas” was expected. In this particular piece, we’re getting a glimpse of her trials, pain, depression, loneliness, perception of herself, yet with a sense of independence and acceptance of the situation.

I truly believe the choices we make the how we overcome them is probably one of the best feelings to have as an independent woman. Strong enough to cry, but able to wipe our own tears. Confident enough to know that our bodies aren’t perfect, but able to contently get dressed in the morning. Knowing that everyday isn’t going to be great, but realizing that’s more than fine. With “The Two Fridas”, she conveyed her struggle, yet she would eventually be complacent with herself again. She depicts a moment or insight of what it is to be a woman.

What I’ve learned from Frida is that sometimes you have to hold your own hand through obstacles, heartbreak, and unexpected life events. Being able to pick yourself off from the ground, to live candidly, and to move forward while wearing your heart on your sleeve. Frida was/is the image of ultimate strength, creativity, culture, and a woman who sought change; she’ll be the woman I’ll always admire.

-Michelle

*For more information about Frida Kahlo’s and Diego Rivera’s relationship, feel free to click on the link below.

the-two-fridas

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20171204-frida-kahlo-and-diego-rivera-portrait-of-a-complex-marriage

Standard
The Disney Diaries

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Last Disney history post (for now)! I am such a fan of Disney’s work and what it has become, that it would be impossible for me to ever stop writing about the topic. I’ll definitely come back to talking about Disney history soon, I promise.

Now, let’s get to it.

The castle welcomed guests on July 17, 1955. Modeled from one of Germany’s castles Neuschwanstein Castle (link below), the cotton candy pink structure would soon be known as one the most recognizable castles to date. Regarding the name Sleeping Beauty Castle; there isn’t an exact answer. I’ve researched everywhere and the best answer (or made the most sense to me) was that Disney wanted to promote his next animated feature film, Sleeping Beauty. So to build “anticipation”, that’s why the castle is known as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Perhaps if Disney knew the movie would have taken four years to release, he would’ve chosen a different name for the castle. Maybe he would’ve called it “Snow White’s Castle?” Imagine that?! *cue cackle of the old hag

It wasn’t until 1957 when Disney had Sleeping Beauty’s Castle become a walk through. He wanted visitors of Disneyland to have that magical experience of walking through a castle. Back then, visitors heard When You Wish Upon A Star by Cliff Edwards (original voice of Jiminy Cricket) himself, along with seeing original dioramas drawn by Evyvind Earle (production artist of Sleeping Beauty).  Fast forward to today, it’s now a walk through that shows the story of Sleeping Beauty. It’s told through multiple images that move and light up. It’s obviously cooler than how I’m writing it, but that just means you’ll have to check it out yourself.

I leave you with this: people’s faces light up when they see the structure. Young or old, there’s a sense of amazement and I live for reactions like those. Although the castle is only 77 feet tall, (tiny for a castle) it manages to show charm and capture the hearts of Disneyland visitors.

-Michelle

Neuschwanstein Castle http://traveltips.usatoday.com/neuschwanstein-castle-3453.html

Disneyland, 77.jpg

 

Standard
The Disney Diaries

it’s a small world

I’m back! Sorry for the long (but necessary) break. Over the course of two weeks, my entire family and I got sick and it was terrible. Worst of all, my grandmother got extremely sick and is still recovering. In honor of her, my next blog post will be about her favorite Disney attraction.

The Disney tradition you’ll either love or hate: it’s a small world. If you’re not a fan of the attraction because of the hundreds of animatronics dolls and the song that’s on loop and sung in like 50 languages, then I understand. It could be a lot at once; especially if you’re a first time rider. But if you’re a fan of the attraction, art and Disney history in general, then I suggest you keep reading.

The idea: of it’s a small world all started with the brilliant minds of Disney’s Imagineers at the 1964 New York World Fair. According to disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “it’s a small world was created for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. Personally overseen by Walt Disney in support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the attraction was a huge hit for 2 seasons at the fair and was eventually shipped back to Disneyland park, where it reopened on May 28, 1966. In 1971, it’s a small world was recreated to become one of the Opening Day attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. Due to its immense popularity, the attraction has been replicated in every Disney Resort around the world and is considered a Walt Disney classic…”

The song: Famous composer and songwriter Richard and Robert Sherman (brothers) were approached by Walt Disney himself to create a song that all children could sing and remember. Although they were working hard on the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, the brothers created it’s a small world, which has become a classic that we all know and most of us love. The coolest part of the process would probably be having children all over the world record the song in their native language and incorporating that within the attraction. Not only does it create harmony, but symbolizes what we all hope for: togetherness and world peace (definitely a Miss Congeniality moment).

The art: Mary Blair and Alice Davis. If you don’t know who both of them are, I suggest you do some research on them. Those ladies were absolutely brilliant and talented and I want to be like them when I grow up.

Also on disneyworld.disney.go.com, it states, “With her distinctive use of color, geometric shapes and a simple, child-like art style, Mary Blair was known for her visual aesthetic—felt in every aspect, in every nation, of “it’s a small world.” As you glide through the many scenes, colored paper in bold hues vividly create collages of some of the world’s most beloved countries, giving you the impression of sailing through a classic children’s book…Under the direction of designer Alice Davis (and her husband Marc Davis), Disney seamstresses gathered and sewed every inch of clothing to create a faithful portrayal of each nation’s traditional attire. That’s over 300 outfits in all! Authentic materials were used for each region, from silks for the saris of India and fine wool for the Scottish bagpiper.”

So many elements and hard work went into the attraction and it continually shows. Regardless of how you might personally feel about it’s a small world, it’s a ride that shows culture and different perspectives. The first time I rode the ride, I was three years old. As a three-year old, I don’t remember much about my first Disney trip, but I do remember when I rode it the second time (when I was ten). Wall to wall colors and sparkle, props and scenery that represented various countries, and a boat ride that emerged me into a world of many different worlds. Looking back, it was my first experience with knowing about what made us culturally different and what made us the same. At the time, I’ve only known my own, which is Mexican-American.

I’m thankful it’s a small world continues to celebrate culture and differences. I truly believe it creates conversations and curiosity between children and for those who want to know/learn more about what’s out there in our world; like it did for me. The more we tell people and children about the joys and fascinations about other parts of the world, the more they will become accepting and understanding of traditions and rituals. It could definitely do us some good.

Disneyland, 13.jpg

 

 

 

 

Standard
Art & Design

When Your Unapologetic Glass Becomes Half Empty

The headline to this blog would’ve been the perfect title to Henri de Toulouse Lautrec’s autobiography if he had written one. His paintings were risqué and “in your face”, yet those were the paintings his sorrows hid behind. Lautrec is a perfect example of a complex person with a contrasted life, and I hope you enjoy reading the following post as much as I did writing it.

From the setting of the room to the colorful characters depicted, At the Moulin Rouge is a piece that is unlike any other.  The oil on canvas painting, created from 1892-1895, hangs at 4’ x 4’7”, and depicts nightlife in Paris (like most of Lautrec’s paintings).   

Not many people who view the painting know this detail, but At the Moulin Rouge is considered a self-portrait. Looking toward the back of the composition, Lautrec is standing next to a taller man with a top hat (his cousin, Gabriel Tapie de Celeyran). When I first looked at this painting, I thought he disproportionately painted himself in or was sitting at a table like the other people in the painting. As I continued to do more research, Lautrec was a shorter than the average man. His height ranged from 4 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet (according to different sources). Other than himself, Lautrec wanted to include the people he admired or had a friendship with. The list: La Goule, La Macarona, Jane Avril (speculated) and May Milton (woman with the blue/green colored face depicted in the foreground), Maurice Guibert (winemaker), Paul Sescau (photographer), and Edouard Dujardin (writer). Not only did Lautrec capture his friends and favorite entertainers in the portrait, but the particular piece captured the atmosphere of Parisian nightlife; showing us that the man behind the painting had more depth and meaning behind his works of art. 

Due to Lautrec’s height, he was ridiculed and wasn’t accepted into high society; which he was born into. He used art as an outlet to a lot of the suffering he had been through with his family and with his personal image. Although he found comfort and acceptance in Paris nightclubs, he suffered a great deal. According to Biography.com, it states, “Though presenting himself as a witty, fun man about town, Toulouse-Lautrec suffered greatly due to his physical ailments as well as past family trauma, with his father never accepting his son’s decision to become a professional artist. He had also contracted syphilis, which further impacted his health. As he had for much of his adult life, Toulouse-Lautrec turned to alcohol to deal with his pain and would ultimately drink himself into oblivion. He had a nervous breakdown in 1899 after his mother, whom he was close to, decided to leave Paris, and the artist was committed to a sanitarium for several months.” His paintings showed a perspective that was frowned upon in high society, but he ultimately found himself and genuine friendships at the Moulin Rogue. To Lautrec, being frowned upon from “his crowd” was worth it. 

The Post- Impressionist painter was rich enough to do what he wanted and hang out with whomever he pleased. So when he started to hang out at Parisian nightclubs, one of the owners of the Moulin Rouge made an agreement with Lautrec to paint pictures of the nightclub to capture the essence of the environment and entice more people to “join in on the fun.” Lautrec was pretty well off and could have easily rejected the offer, but because the Moulin Rouge became an escape from criticism and disapproval of his personal life, he happily agreed to the deal and hung out there all the time. From an economic circumstance, most of his work wasn’t done for money; it was done for the place he called a second home. Being that he was an artist for the Moulin Rouge.

I don’t think his decisions were based on his political, economic or social stances. Instead, based with what he wanted to do. One of the attributes I loved about Lautrec was that he didn’t care about what others thought about his artwork. He made pieces that made him and his friends happy. I wonder, if he carried that same outlook into his personal life, would he have had a longer, happier life? Then again, syphilis. 

Lautrec’s social circumstances led him to make the choices he made during his life as an artist. He did the things he did according to how he felt, not because it was right or wrong. Ultimately, he did what he wanted to do, hung out with performers, prostitutes, drunks, etc. and that’s how he loved to live his life. Additionally, that kind of attitude was reflected in his paintings, such as At the Moulin Rouge.

He never depicted his subjects as something they weren’t or in judgement due to his status. Lautrec candidly painted them for who they were.  I found that perspective extremely refreshing. Coming from a generation where being Photoshopped in a magazine is the norm or being manipulated into an image that is acceptable on social media, there is a lack of authenticity in today’s society. I think the goal is to boldly and unapologetically be yourself wherever you go. Lautrec did exactly that with his art! With that said, I truly believe the genuineness from his art left a huge impact in the creative world and paved the way for artists and designers who came after him. 

-Michelle

default

 

Standard
Art & Design

My America

Since I’m a huge art history nerd, I thought, why not have a week where I talk about my favorite art history masterpieces? This week, I’ll be talking about art pieces that can be found at The Art Institute of Chicago (the house of dreams).

The first piece I’ll be writing about is Marc Chagall’s America Windows, ca. 1977.  Back story: Chagall came to Chicago, seven years prior to making his art piece, to install one of his other completed works titled, The Four Seasons. Due to the amazing feedback the people of Chicago had, he wanted to create a piece that would celebrate the wonderful progression and independence of America.

When Chagall came back with his finished masterpiece, he came back with six panels of pure beauty. Chagall never put a label on the type of art his artwork was, but to me, it’s a fusion of Cubism, Surrealism, and Fauvism; that’s what makes this piece so special. Additionally, the deep indigo background along with other colors presented, could captivate any audience. Other thing to look for would be figures that are crafted into the panels: people playing instruments, floating guitars and fiddles, dove, olive branch, Statue of Liberty, etc. Each panel has a significant meaning and I’ll post a link below of a great summary of just that. Seeing America Window in person has been one of the best experiences at a museum and it’s a must see every time I visit The Art Institute of Chicago.

From the Art Institute of Chicago’s website, it states, “The resulting six-panel work celebrates the country as a place of cultural and religious freedom, detailing the arts of music, painting, literature, theater, and dance. Because of his admiration for Chicago and its strong commitment to public art during the 1960s and 1970s, Chagall chose to dedicate the work to Mayor Richard J. Daley, a great supporter of public art projects.” Chagall gave this gift to the city of Chicago, but after evaluating this particular gift, America Window has become a gift to me. With everything going on lately, it could easily discourage anyone in believing in the future of America and it’s people. When I look at this masterpiece, I see hope.

Knowing that this art piece represents the beauty of America’s culture, freedom and art influences, that is the America I choose to see and believe in.  I see it everyday with the people I surround myself with; people who are kind, loving, hard-working, strong and filled with dreams. For that, I am truly blessed to know them and I hope I meet more people who exude those qualities. Just like America Window, I still believe this is what America represents. Except now, we just have to look a little bit closer.

-Michelle

 

26165236_1910782162268749_8233352748648240481_n

For more information on America Window, feel free to check out these links:

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/Chagall

https://blogs.colum.edu/reviewing-the-arts/2014/04/07/visual-art-the-america-windows-1977-marc-chagall-art-institute-of-chicago/

Standard
Art & Design

Back to Work!

On this cold and blustery day in the city, I’ll be writing about my current pride and joy: my Etsy shop. It’s called The Gift of Giving Co. and it’s a shop my sister and I created that (at the time) sold Holiday handmade ornaments, napkin rings, and designed wrapping paper sheets. Now that the Holiday season is over, we’ll be focusing on creating items/prints for weddings and baby showers. Not only do we sell items that we love to make, but some percentage of our profits goes to charity. We believe in the “it’s better to give than to receive” motto, which was one of the things that inspired the name for our shop.

It all started a few months after we both graduated from Columbia College Chicago. Since I’m a graphic designer and she’s an illustrator, it seemed natural and expected to go into business together. Honestly, it’s been the best, tiring and most expensive thing we’ve ever done; but completely worth it. There’s no one else I would rather work with and to craft products that make people smile is the best part of it all (sappy moment). Fast forward to today: hands filled with graphite. Literally been sketching and drafting for the majority of the day, but I’m happy to say we’ve come up with products that we’re excited to create.

Glad I had the chance to write about the shop, but it’s time for me to focus and work on digital sketches. I like to digital sketch because it allows me to look at colors (obviously Pantone) that I want to incorporate in the products. Plus, it’s a lot cleaner too. Haha!

Until next time,

Michelle

P.S- If you’re new at Adobe Illustrator and want to use Pantone colors in your illustrations, follow these steps:

  1. Once you have your document, click on the bottom arrow next to the color box on the top left of your screen.
  2. Then you click on the tiny image to the right top side of the box that looks like a bulleted list with a down arrow.
  3. Scroll down to “Open Swatch Library”, then select “Color Books”
  4. Once you do that, there are various Pantone options to use. I usually use “PANTONE + Solid Uncoated” for print purposes, but feel free to do the research on Pantone Color Books.

 

Standard