This project challenged me to compose a work that had depth created through layering. I was to include a diagonal in the composition to create unity, pattern to create rhythm, and opposites with tessellation to create balance.
To inspire my work, I followed Lari Pittman’s layering and coloring style of moving from dark to light colors. Lair Pittman is an American painter who specializes in layering lighter colors on top of darker colors to create depth with detailed patterns.
Here is an example of his work:
For my piece, I started out by creating my background. I chose a mountain setting because it seemed like a fitting place for both animals to live. I first added very dark base colors in the mountains and sky to have a surface to work on.
I used the sky to hold a tessellation created from one of the nature patterns. I chose a rotating tessellation to fill the space and to use yellow colors to create some contrast with the blue behind it.
For the mountain, I chose to use a Native American pattern. This choice came from my opinion that the eagle and wolf are spiritual animals in Native American culture. I chose a lighter green, blue, and burgundy in the pattern to tie back to natural colors.
Next I added the flame at the bottom for middle ground. I chose to keep the colors in the yellow-orange range to convey a sense of warmth that flames possess. I then added a bright red-orange meandering pattern on top similar to how a flame would curve to add a burning energy.
After finishing that portion of the image, I moved on to add the eagle. First, I put a contour outline of the shape. I then put washed-out brown and white for the various body parts to divide areas where there are different patterns.
For the right side of the eagle, I chose two different meandering patterns to visualize the direction and amount of energy when air flows over the wing of the eagle as it flies. I made the patterns purple and red-orange to tie back into the colors of the background and middle ground.
On the left side, there is meandering pattern as well as some branching pattern to show the strength in the eagle’s wing and how it forces air to move when it flies. I made these patterns blue to represent the sky.
For the eagle’s head, I chose a branching arrow pattern to show how an eagle may be intensely focused on its prey below. I made this pattern green to tie the eagle back to the earth.
After the eagle was finished, I added the outline for the wolf on top. I put a washed-out yellow-brown for the base color to keep the wolf grounded and to allow the background colors to show through. I then added a checker pattern on top to utilize the energy stored within a stacking and packing pattern. This pattern represents how a wolf may save its energy until it finds the need to use it, such as with hunting or fleeing from danger.
Over the checkered pattern, I put a branching pattern at a diagonal to create stronger composition within the piece and to show how energy may be moving through the wolf’s body as it howls. I made this pattern white to make the wolf a focal point of the piece.
After the wolf was finished, I went back to the flame to add a cross-hatch pattern to create emphasis. I also outlined the shape of the eagle to make it stand out.
When I originally started this project, I did not have a specific meaning behind the way I designed it. I knew I wanted to use a wolf, and then I reasoned that an eagle and mountain would work well with it. I thought that the flames could add an interesting element to the finished work, so I added that to the design as well. Through the process of actually working on this, however, I discovered that more conceptual ideas can be placed within it. This image can show deforestation, and how animals are being frightened and losing their homes due to the selfishness of people. Also, since the eagle and wolf can be tied to Native American culture, this work can represent how in the past the white man mistreated these people and tried to destroy their way of life. Whichever way you read it, my finished piece unintentionally has greater meaning to it than originally intended.