Here are the images I made for my Spheres of Influence project:


I’m really quite fond of my little Balloon Man, and I like the image of the candle drink just because it worked out really well. I think the eye is a very hackneyed and cliche concept, but I was running out of ideas. I’m actually a bit fond of my lamp and sphere, as well – they represent a sort of running gag through my whole art career, and I like that I made the image out of nothing but my same circles.

I’ve been familiar with Photoshop for probably about ten years now – I received the full program as the result of a rather thorny teenage relationship with my father, who then subsequently tried to buy back my affection with gifts. (It worked.) I’ve mostly used the program for digital paintings, although I’ve dabbled in photomanipulation and I use it quite frequently to scale and color-correct photos that I plan to draw or paint in the meatspace.

The thing I found most useful in this early stage of instruction was shortcuts – I’m entirely self-taught except for the occasional HowTo article when I’m utterly stuck, so I don’t frequently know the easiest way around things. I gained most of my knowledge through clicking an icon that looked like it might do something related to what I wanted (and then becoming enraged that the Pen Tool did not in fact create calligraphy.) Learning the actual keyboard shortcuts for my most-used clicks will make my job much easier and more efficient, and everyone knows we Germans love our efficiency.

In terms of reading images and visual literacy, I’m not sure anything could make me better at that (that’s an insult to myself, not a compliment.) My hard line on art in general has always been that we project ourselves onto it. I can’t tell you how many paintings I’ve stared at for a while and given some deep meaning, when it turns out that it was just a commissioned portrait of someone’s niece that they got 200 florins for. “An Ode to 200 Florins.” I find that people are very willing to do the opposite, though – to see a piece of modern art that’s just some squares, and read the placard and see that the artist says it’s about man’s inhumanity to man during the Armenian Genocide, and go “nah, this is bullshit. It’s just squares.” Art interpretation is fascinating. Can you tell I’m a psych double major?

I’ve also learned that context and information are essential. Balloon man, for example – I thought I was very clever, anthropomorphizing my balloon and giving him his own balloon. How meta. How they’ll laugh. But then when I presented, I realized that no one else realized that it was a balloon in the first place – it wasn’t in a place where one would expect a balloon, and I’d turned the “Happy Birthday” around to the back to give myself an unblemished surface to work with. So while everyone was duly impressed and awed by my brilliance once it’d been explained to them, I’m aiming to be a “no-placard-necessary” artist: all of the information is available within the image. The header image of this blog is an attempt to jump one step closer to that ideal, and I’m making that my goal for this class. Because no one reads the placards.




  1. Ten years of Photoshop shows in your care and facility with the craft, and certainly works to your advantage to move into challenging yourself with a stretch of the assignment. I wonder if it’s even important that someone can’t tell the balloon guy is a balloon. He is animated and seems to float and has balloon qualities, so it is sort of subtle secret that his (her?) DNA is a balloon, and is that maybe enough? As far as interpreting art goes, what I think is important about the work one looks at is not so much what the artist intends but what the viewer wants and gets. The art is there for you to resolve and create with your perception and your brain whatever comes to you. It isn’t very important what the artist wants or intends, because at the point of you receiving the work the artist is gone and the world may have changed. The artist is attending to and responding to her culture, and makes an image, and you are attending to and responding to your culture (or self) and you make a meaning. So, even if the artist meant “no, duh, it’s just three squares” to her, it may be three doors to me, and that’s what I need it to be in order to make my next intellectual, spiritual, social, critical jump…if that makes any sense…

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