For this assignment, professor Jenny Chi wanted us to work in pastels and create a diptych or triptych – some multi-piece work. I decided to combine the still life with my autobiography and a less-than-subtle homage to a painter I admired.
I have worked in printing, design and photography for most of my life, so I wanted to use colors representing the 4-color printing process – CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), and combine that with a composition from Piet Mondrian, whose work has been incredibly influential in design.
The painting I referenced was Mondrian’s Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey and Blue, 1921. Each of the areas of the grid was colored with pastel to match as closely as possible the original grid pattern.
Interestingly, there are no direct equivalents to Cyan and Magenta in pastel crayons. So I had to carefully lighten my colors with white when needed to make them closer approximations to the real colors.
My original idea was to somehow split the composition into several smaller pieces to meet the assignment instructions. Fortunately, Prof. Chi convinced me to leave the original drawing intact, and instead draw a color test strip that hangs next to the larger piece as the second part of the diptych.
Working on this project required a lot of calculations and planning before completing the drawing. It also contained the germ of the idea that would become my final project for the class.