ddrees art

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Identity Images

Posted by ddrees on January 10, 2011

took a course in semiology in 2002 at U of Baltimore for my Doctor of Communication Design work.

Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of cultural sign processes (semiosis), analogy, metaphor, signification and communication, signs and symbols.

Richard Stanley, principal of Swisstrix who studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule Basel with Wolfgang Weingart, taught the course. Richard was quite fond of Hoffman and Hoffman’s graphic design ideas and has remained his friend throughout the years. Through this contact, I am but two degrees of separation from the Swiss Style. I like being aware of these connections, reflections in the net of gems. Many of my Skidmore professors from way back when, Robert Reed, Arnold Bittleman, Arthur Anderson, Victor Ligouri and others were directly connected to Josef Albers. I remember the day that Bob Reed and Arnold Bittleman had Alber’s newly published folio of Homage to the Square silk-screens in hand and were showing them to our class. Later I met many other Alber’s students, like Norman Carlberg at MICA. So there I was two degrees of separation from the Bauhaus version of color theory, which I have enthusiastically passed along to a multitude of CCBC art students. I discover that Weingart was also attached to Yale so the net of gems image continues to work.

One of our projects at UB was to develop sincere identity images. The two you see here are my results. Perhaps due to my many years on the planet yielding many interests or my older brain finding it difficult to hone things down to a single essence, my icons of self remained fairly divergent. They also reveal a lot to me if not to anyone else. They are somewhat of a psychoanalytic exercise.

D Drees ID 1 ©2002

D Drees ID 1 ©2002

D Drees ID 2 ©2002

D Drees ID 2 ©2002

Because I make images with an array of traditional media, plus digital media I do not think of myself as a painter or printmaker but as an Iconographer. Unfortunately that word does not mean to most people what it means to me. My take on it has more to do with art history and semiotics and less to do with graphic user interface icons that many think of, or paintings of holy figures in byzantine style. My icons include representations, likenesses, symbols, and signs.

So my sincere identity images incorporate some visual ideas that I have developed over many years including;

  • Spectrums embedded in an array of natural creatures like the ring of butterflies;
  • Aspects of fractals, like marbling passages;
  • The physicality of pictures as opposed to the abstraction of words;
  • Delight at the variety of creation as expressed in Pied Beauty by Hopkins;
  • The hand of higher power from which all ideas and talents flow;
  • Layers or dimensions of reality that we float through constantly;
  • Relationship of words to pictures, (allowing the troubling word iconographer to be present.)
  • Pens, brushes hands palettes keyboards, all very trite images standing for artists, I allow because they are what affords the transition from mental/internal to physical/external, hackneyed or not. (In our class we also discussed where to draw the line between hackneyed, obscure and simply understandable; what we do to make sure something is being sent out and received.)
  • My image of myself as the fairy godmother or good witch improves on a very early image of my aged self as the crone 1968-1969. The crone can be transformed into the good fairy.
©d drees 1969-3 The Information, oil

©d drees 1969-3 The Information, oil

©D Drees 1969-4   Revelation, oil

©D Drees 1969-4 Revelation, oil

©D Drees 1969-12  24x18 pen&ink

©D Drees 1969-12 24x18 pen&ink

Our primary readings in Richard’s class were from Arthur Berger’s Seeing is Believing.

Later I would incorporate these and other readings into my CGVC246 course, Graphic Design for Communication. My other reading suggestions for that course:

  • Hot-Wiring Your Creative Process; Curt Cloninger;
  • Semiotics for Beginners; Daniel Chandler;  http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html; free semiotics tutorial
  • Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art,
  • Hillman Curtis, MTIV; Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer,
  • Jim Kraus, Idea Index,
  • Rick Poyner, No More rules; Graphic Design and Postmodernism,

If an artist ever wants to clarify his/her messages, these sorts of studies are essential.

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Confluence of Influence Faculty Show 2010

Posted by ddrees on August 1, 2010

Our upcoming faculty show is themed Confluence of Influence. The concept is that we reflect on our strongest artist influences and write about how these are manifested in the works shown.  The show shall be up in the Catonsville Gallery at CCBCMD from August 30 to September 24.

Here is my influence statement, just submitted.

Lots of artists will tell you their best ideas came from beyond, were given. But I need the precious commodities of time and quiet spaces to bring the inspirations to fruition. I do a lot of slow synthesizing. Among my most important influences in the language of image making are Charles Burchfield, William Blake, Rembrandt Van Rijn and Arnold Bittleman. These fellows provide a tradition of notation that can be built upon to maintain meaning.

We are stuck in our bodies but we make trips to transcendent places all the time. We need to reaffirm this and put it in perspective as four-fold vision in works of art, as Blake said, “An eternity in a grain of sand”.  The transcendent is embedded in the actual in works of art.

William Blake’s classical archetypal figures all signify our identity. He embodies multilevel meaning from the particular of the streets of London to the eternal. My Dad quoted “The Tyger “ to me when I was a little child, which made me sit up and take notice. Blake connected verbal and visual as well as anyone ever has.

William Blake from Songs of Innocence and Experience

William Blake from Songs of Innocence and Experience

I saw and was influenced by Charles Burchfield at an early age. His evocative art was a personal inward response to creatures, sounds, weather and temperature of everyday life. His perceptions in the moment with total awareness allowed the connections to the vibrations of the universe to happen.

Charles Burchfield

Charles Burchfield

My college drawing teacher Arnold Bittleman took reality and observation and rendered it with a meaningful line system and a respect for the mark as the creative instant. He synthesized the aesthetics of the West and the East.

Arnold Bittleman Untitled

Arnold Bittleman Untitled

Rembrandt’s inner feelings and introspection were backed up by compositional choices, as in “David and Saul”. He used light to direct the viewer’s gaze and color and texture to set an introspective mood. Yet he worked “naar het leven” so the transcendent and real are connected.

Rembrandt, Saul and David, 1655-60, Mauritshuis, The Hague

Rembrandt, Saul and David, 1655-60, Mauritshuis, The Hague

My short artist’s statement is here. I need to update it sometime soon.

I want to make art that is beautiful, that addresses the viewer’s spiritual needs. Perhaps that is my role—to try to get people to look at the sublime and the beautiful again. I want to create works that show, as Blake said, ‘an infinity in a grain of sand.’ I like the idea of an art that is multi-cultural and multidirectional, connecting then and now, here and there, them, and us into images that show the transitional forms that bind. The more the artist can put into the work as potential meaning, the more the viewer will be able to connect with, no matter where or when.

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Trees replaced

Posted by ddrees on August 9, 2009

I inadvertently discarded this post from last August. So here it is back again unchanged except for order in time.

Trees and leaves are among my favorite image subjects. Trees loom large in my legend as well as on their own accord.  I just uploaded thirty tree art pictures to Flickr and I have more to add. (tree art set) I have tons of tree photos as well. Often on our trips (my husband Dana Fisher and me) we seek out famous trees to photograph. I have photos of some that are no longer with us, like the Liberty Tree in Annapolis. We are long time tree huggers and planters. Some of the trees we have planted have reached great heights. The tree photo set will take some time organizing.

The Beech tree in this watercolor is on the grounds at Hampton Mansion. We first spied it while scouting sites to take my summer landscape class years ago. I was delighted when my favorite all time colleague at CCBC, Ray Quigley, no longer with us, bought it. I like to think of it giving him pleasure.

Beech Tree, 3,2,1 other ©D Drees 1987

Beech Tree, 3,2,1 other ©D Drees 1987

This Beech tree and Yew are in back of the Hilton Mansion at CCBC Catonsville. I started a few offspring from blowbys of that yew but they are very slow growing. But what a great Yew it is.

Beech Tree and Yew © D Drees 1989

Beech Tree and Yew © D Drees 1989

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