Art in Review: Why my work sucked

There comes a point in time where every college art student realizes that everything, and I mean everything they made in high school sucked.

You may fight it. You may say, “But wait, my work was the best in the class! My teachers loved it and I got the blue ribbon in the “Insert generic town name here” art festival!”

Well, it may have been good in comparison to other high school work, but compared to what you can and (possibly) will do? It sucked.

I remember how excited I was about my work from highschool. The colors were so great! The people were only vaguely misshapen! And the subject was so clever and unique!


And thus, I get to the point of this post. I am going to try to go back and review the work I made in high school with a clearer eye. I am going to try to talk about my work without bias (I may not always succeed, but hey, I get points for trying, right?). The work I review will be from my breadth and concentration for AP studio art, and possibly other pieces I feel are relevant. I may not cover everything and I can’t promise that I’ll go in order, seeing as how I don’t exactly remember the order, but I’ll try to make this a fairly regular feature of this blog. Hopefully by going back and realizing the mistakes I was making in the past I can improve the work I’m making now.

So let’s begin:

Helios: God of the Sun

More after the jump!

Helios. This is the first painting I made for my concentration that I actually included in the final portfolio (There were worse ones. Trust me.) This piece was useful in that I realized that foreshortening and interesting angles would make my work more visually appealing, and that looking upward towards a person made them appear to be more powerful. However, it’s still pretty bad.

I should give some background on my concentration topic. At first I wanted to have the Greek gods and goddesses interacting with modern day humans. Kind of using Greek mythology to explain and influence modern day life. As you can see here, I abandoned that idea after the first few failed paintings. The new idea was much more boring; paint the gods and goddesses… being gods and goddesses. The idea was old, but at least I gained experience working with the human figure, right?

The detail in the piece goes from okay to really, incredibly bad as we move to the right, I obviously rushed the last few horses. The edges of everything are way too sharp, with perhaps the exception of Helios’s head and torso silhouetted against the sun. And a lot of things are simply misshapen, particularly the horses.

The colors in this piece are also very unsophisticated. The purples are purple, the blues are blue, the greens are green, and the yellow is yellow. I had yet to understand that including colors that differed from the general color of an object in that object would make the object look more realistic as well as more interesting.

Of course, one of the things that I take issue with in this image is that I worked from a photograph. Not a single photograph, I combined the image of Helios, an image of the horses, and created the setting myself, but it would have been nice to work from something real. Obviously that’s not going to happen in high school, we didn’t have models available (duh) and we weren’t even allowed to work from nudes or create nudes (which will explain a lot of awkward drapery to come) but I could have at least taken my own photographs rather than use fairly well known images of statues.

I have no issue with the subject of this painting. It’s boring, but not offensive. Some of my later works really relied on objectifying women, which I realize now, but at the time thought was “edgy” and “risque”. That’s one of the reasons I want to do this review, to talk about how my high school work viewed women, and how I had yet to realize how I was simply reinforcing the male gaze as the default audience for my work.

Of course, Helios is the god of the sun and this painting appears to depict night. Wow. I missed that one by a long shot!

Does anyone else have an experience looking back on their high school work?

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