Ross School - Senior Projects 2012

 

Student: Liam Chaskey

Mentor: Therese Lichtenstein

Domain(s): Art/English

Faculty Grader: Ned Smyth

 

 

 

Documentation of Product

 

Title: Feeling Surfing Abstractly

Description: Having been born and raised so close to the ocean I had no choice but to develop a love for nature, specifically the ocean. I produced twenty poems and over fifteen abstract paintings and other pieces of art as I believe this was the best way I could express and show viewers how strongly I feel connected to the ocean.

In all of my paintings I used similar brush strokes as well as a palette knife. Most of the strokes are long and straight to represent the shoreline. I also tried to use as many colors as possible to emphasize the bright side of nature rather than the dark side. The reason I chose so many different sizes and types of canvases and paper is because they represent waves and reveal how no two waves are the same. Waves appear in different sizes, shapes, and colors. 

I wrote both rhymes and free verse poetry. I used both forms in order to express how abstract language can be. My poems and paintings do not specifically match. In hanging the exhibition I chose to display my poems amongst my smaller works on paper. When you read the poems and look at the paintings you might feel a connection between a few pairs. This project really opened up my mind to new ways of painting and writing. I do not think I could have chosen a better project to represent who I am.

 

(Catalog Entry-You can copy and paste this directly from the Senior Project Resources page by clicking on the digital catalog)

 

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Exhibition & Presentation Summary

 

 

(Written description of your project and process. Pull from your presentation notes to complete this.)

 

Deciding on a Project

Both my older siblings graduated from Ross and during their senior years I watched them go through the process of working on their senior projects.

My brother, Levin, made a film called ÒAbout LoveÓ in which he interviewed two teenagers about their love of basketball.

My sister, Rowenna, did a black and white photography project inspired by two black and white films from the 1950Õs.

I remember asking my parents while my brother was working on his project, ÒWhat could I do for my project?Ó

They said, ÒAnything you want!Ó

This is what makes the process of doing a senior project so great.

I was very young at this point as I was in second grade (my brother is 9 years older than me.) So, I said, ÒOh, so can I just try to make 100 half-court basketball shots throughout my senior year?Ó And they just laughed . I was confused then but now I understand it takes more than an idea or accomplishing a goal to create a senior project.

I thought about that at the end of last year when I was trying to think of what I wanted to spend the beginning of my senior year working on.

My first idea was to make a cookbook because I thought there is NOTHING I love more in the world than food! I decided against this after some thought.

Then one night I was with my friend, Matt Hollander, who graduated last year from Ross and wrote poetry about the moon for his senior project. He told me, ÒI did poetry and it was fun. Why donÕt you try that?Ó

My first thought was: NO!, but then later that night I saw my dad sitting down writing a poem, which is something he does often. He has a few published poetry books.  I felt that seeing him writing poetry was a sign, so I decided to do poetry for my project, but I didnÕt think it was enough so I came to the thought that I could also create some paintings.

Not until half way through the summer did I decide that I wanted to base all of my creative work on surfing, the ocean and abstraction.

ArtistÕs Statement

Having been born and raised so close to the ocean I had no choice but to develop a love for nature, specifically the ocean. I produced twenty poems and over fifteen abstract paintings and other pieces of art as I believe this was the best way I could express and show viewers how strongly I feel connected to the ocean.

In all of my paintings I used similar brush strokes as well as a palette knife. Most of the strokes are long and straight to represent the shoreline. I also tried to use as many colors as possible to emphasize the bright side of nature rather than the dark side. The reason I chose so many different sizes and types of canvases and paper is because they represent waves and reveal how no two waves are the same. Waves appear in different sizes, shapes, and colors. 

I wrote both rhymes and free verse poetry. I used both forms in order to express how abstract language can be. My poems and paintings do not specifically match. In hanging the exhibition I chose to display my poems amongst my smaller works on paper. When you read the poems and look at the paintings you might feel a connection between a few pairs. This project really opened up my mind to new ways of painting and writing. I do not think I could have chosen a better project to represent who I am.

Process

My first job was to order all of my canvases, at least the medium sized ones, 40Ó x 32Ó, and the smaller ones. This was an interesting part of the process and it took some time for me to decide what types and sizes I wanted.  

After ordering the canvases I ordered brushes, paints, palette knives, and more.

Everything arrived together in 5 huge boxes.

At that point I realized I hadnÕt really thought through this part of the process because I had no idea where to put it all! But luckily my sister was away at college so I made her room into my studio and put plastic down on the floor so no paint would get on it. Once everything was set up I was so excited I ended up doing two paintings that night.

The paintings actually flowed very nicely for me throughout the whole project. The poems would take some time to write but I would go sit at the beach and just let the ocean do its work and inspire me.

After writing all my poems a lot of people came up to me and said, ÒYou know, all your poems really sound like raps.Ó

I didnÕt even compose them with rap in mind but after hearing these comments I heard them in a new light and I liked my poems a lot more as I read them in a different way. One of the reasons that I began to develop this aspect of my poems is because rap has a lot of rhythm and the ocean has such a strong presence In its rhythm that you especially have to master as a surfer. ItÕs all in the timing.

Here is a poem in which you can hear the influence of the rhythm of rap.

Debut

 

He walks through

He walks to the Blue

No Shoe

In Peru

His name is Drew

Drew took that wave and he flew

His board stuck to him like glue

This is his Debut

There is no redo

I know he will pursue

Nothing like a canoe 

For Surfing can be called a Taboo

That is his view

As precious as the gold from Timbuktu

He did not misconstrue

Surfing is for you

I donÕt like staying with only one type of style. I like to mix it up. Reading all my poems, you will notice how I play with the style even as I keep to the feeling of the rhythm.  IÕll read a few just to show you how the differences between them actually create a strong connection with the theme of abstraction in my paintings too.  You will also hear how I use a varied vocabulary in my poems to echo the various ways of putting paint on the canvas I used in my paintings. All this reflects all the various moods of the ocean.

Morning Surf

5:30 am

Waking up for only one thing

Drive to my home

Shivering

Shaking

ItÕs October! What am I doing?

Check three different spots

Find the perfect one

Slip on a damp sand covered wetsuit

Starts with a walk to the waves

Turns into a jog

Then a sprint

IÕm finally home!

Surfing Is

 

A-Frame

Air

Snap

Backdoor

Banks

Bail

Barrel

Beach Break

Bottom Turn

Carving

Clean

Close out

Cutback

Drop in

Duck Dive

Dude

Eat it

Firing

Flat

Gnarly

Goofy

Glassy

Going off

Hang ten

Heavy

Inside

Kook

Layback

Leash

Line up

Lip

Long board

Lull

Mush

Nose

Ocean

Offshore

Onshore

Paddle

Pumping

Rail

Rip

Sick

Stoke

Swell

Tail

Tail slide

Thruster

Tube

Wax

Wetsuit

Wipe out

Worked

This one is a haiku.

Surfing

 

I am surfing

And surfing is me

And we will be

ME

 

You donÕt want to mess

IÕll impress

Unless you suppress the press

Nevertheless IÕm blessed 

I run recess

Success

Although I must confess

I possess a dress

I must always progress

Never depress

Regress to profess

About your obsess

How could you not acquiesce

ÒLÓ

 

Liam is what I am called

Let my mind drift away with the current

Left out there forever

Learn the new way

Leave my past

Live my new life as best as I can

Love always

Look back never

Lecture the world with my actions

Letters with no words

Inspiration

I have been inspired by many forms of expression and many artists. The two that most inspired me were Mark Rothko and Gerhard Richter.

Mark Rothko was a Russian-American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected and hated this label.

The part of his work that I like a lot is that he uses a lot of bright colors like red and orange and yellow. I tried to use this color palette in some of my paintings.

 

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Gerhard Richter was also a German abstract painter, famous for never changing his style as his main goal. He produced many paintings, photographs and pieces of pieces.  

I really like the way he uses color and line in his paintings.

 

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My grandmother, Connie Fox, who lives in East Hampton, is a painter whose style is abstract expressionism. I grew up seeing her at work in her studio, working on paintings of all sizes, some very large.  She works in acrylic so I am familiar with the color range of acrylic paints. She also likes to work abstractly from her love of the water and land here on the east end.

Style

I tried to use a similar style of painting in all of my paintings. I used different palette knives in all of my paintings because I really like the straight lines that they produce that canÕt be made with a paintbrush. The knife makes a very defined line and when you drag it repeatedly, the color starts to fade. You can see how I use this style in this painting.

 

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Another technique I used was to put tape onto the canvas before I applied the paint to make straight lines or to keep a color from touching another color.

To tie together all the various aspects of my project I created a work of art by painting on the back of one of my surfboards. It provided a really smooth surface and the paint didnÕt stick that well, so I had to apply a number of layers that created a layered effect. I mixed a lot of colors for this one. 

Challenges

I definitely experienced many challenges, for example when I had writerÕs block as well as ÒpainterÕsÓ block when I would sit there for many hours and not put anything down and get very angry and just leave it for another time.

But there were also times when I would get in the zone and write three poems in an hour.

I would say the hardest thing I had to do during the whole project was stretching the canvas for my big painting. I would have just bought the canvas already stretched like I did for all the other paintings but this was 80 by 88 inches, which is a very large canvas. I had a very strong feeling that I wanted to create a painting this large though I had never painted at this scale before. It would have meant that it would have been very expensive if I had bought one already constructed. So, here I would like to give special thanks to my grandma, Connie Fox, for being an amazing painter and helping provide me with the right materials to stretch the canvas and also her expertise and knowledge of how to do it right. Without her the big painting never would have been possible. After a lot of work I finished stretching it and then had to gesso it. Only then was I ready to paint.  I enjoyed working at that size. It reminds me of being in the presence of a vast body of water when I am surfing.

Another challenge was getting the painting to Ross to hang and then the means to display it.  The Ross maintenance staff did a great job of constructing a structure to display the painting.

Skills I Acquired

Before this project I was not very confident in my poetry writing ability or in my painting ability. Now, after this project, I feel I progressively got better and better throughout the whole process. I donÕt think I would have been able to make a painting before this over 20 inches by 20 inches but by the end of this project I created an 80 by 88 inch painting and I am very satisfied with the outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography or Works Consulted

 

(In MLA format unless another formatting was used, i.e. APA, scientific, etc.)