Joel Sturm – Final Project


Joel Sturm, Final Project, Acrylic on Paper and Photoshop, 11×17

I wanted my final project to be a Piece that included some things I am comfortable with, and some elements that I’m less confident about. I have used a whole lot of photos of myself as references for paintings and sketches this semester. I’ve never really been happy with my mouths on any of them, so that’s one thing I wanted to focus on with this piece.

I really enjoyed doing two tone, expressive, and bright colors on a white backdrop. There’s something about the sharpness that appeals to me. I decided to do two tone colors with a focus on color temperature. I wanted to focus on body language that the mouths were conveying, then try and give them fitting colors for the moods. I feel like with these goals, the themes of the piece would fit well together. Finally, I decided I wanted at least 4 mouths for even spacing, and to be able to easily apply the rule of thirds.

I started by sketching a larger version of the mouths from my proposal sketch. I did a few color tests on my old sketch, then started applying colors to each mouth. I feel like the two tone element didn’t come out uniformly on each mouth. The purple one is my biggest issue. It was originally yellow and purple, but it threw the balance of the colors in the piece way off. The whole left side was lopsidedly yellow. When I brought the piece into photoshop to do some finishing on it, I altered the hue and saturation of the purple mouth to where purple  was the primary color, and the secondary color was now blue. Even though the other bottom mouth has blue, they are both secondary, so it doesn’t throw the balance off.

I was happy with how the red mouth came out, but I had to color correct it in photoshop as well to make it a richer red. The cost was that the purple in the mouth is less evident, making it look closer to monochrome.

I considered not doing the facial hair, but the mouths looked a little naked with their crisp outlines on the white background. The facial hair was able to distinguish itself from the lips and teeth by having less solid outlines. At the same time, I may have been able to tie it in better by adding dark or black whiskers alongside the two-tone strokes.

I think that the yellow mouth works well. Bright yellow with orange does a good job of conveying joy and excitement, matching the mouth. After color correcting the red mouth, I think that it pulls off anger well. I was also happy to have the mustache for this one to give a bit more expression over the snarled lip. The purple one I am least confident about, but hey, maybe that conveys the awkward mood I was going for it. I think that it is maybe less subtle that its color was altered in photoshop. The blue and green mouth I wanted to show as calm at at peace. I think that it worked alright, but I would have liked to get a few more hues of green in there.

I think that despite a few weak points, the piece as a whole accomplishes its goal. The colors and emotions feel in sync to me, and i think the simple composition keeps the focus on the interest points.  My largest concern is that my choice to have a white background may make the piece feel too barren. I considered several backgrounds, or auras for the mouths, but ultimately decided against it.

I really enjoyed sketching and painting something, then moving it to digital editing for large changes. I haven’t really used photoshop for my paintings other than auto color and auto contrasting, so it was really nice to use it for a major change in color.

One thought on “Joel Sturm – Final Project

  1. This piece is a mix of photoshop and acrylic on paper and features the same mouth done in four different expressions. Joel purposefully chose two-toned colors to match the expression he was trying to convey. The red mouth is snarling to signify anger, the green mouth is content, the yellow is happy and the purple is an awkward expression. They are arranged in two rows of two on a white background.

    The brightness of the colors against the white background draw my eye to each of the subjects immediately. Since there is a good amount of blank space on the paper, the bright boldness of the colors really works well. The two mouths in the top row seem more dynamic than those in the bottom row, so I would maybe suggest having swapped the placement of either the smile or the snarl with either on the bottom row to make it seem a little more balanced. I can see what you mean about worrying that white background was too empty; it doesn’t exactly bother me, but I think I might have visibly divided it into four sections and centered the mouth in each. Alternately, you could have chosen bright, contrasty backgrounds and handled it like pop art. That could have worked well, too. But like I said, the white background doesn’t bother me; the white ties all those bright colors together!

    Looking at the piece as a whole makes me interested. I really enjoy the pops of brightness and the versatility of how the single subject was portrayed. I could see this being done as a series if you did the same kind of pictures with an eye or something like that.

    All in all, this project was a success. Personally, I find mouths ridiculously difficult to draw well- especially teeth! Great job tackling this and doing such a fantastic job with it!

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