Sunday, July 13, 2008

Art Blog: Visual Vocabulary

When I was in elementary school, I remember being faced with the annual “I.Q.” test. I always hated tests. However, I looked forward to this one because there was a portion in which you had to match pictures. I am sure there is an official name for this type of assessment. Maybe it is “visual analogies” or something like that because it is asks which pictures are related. I am sure I did very poorly on this portion of the test. This just has to be true because I approached it with a weird, right brained logic. For example, faced with a picture of a duck, robin, and umbrella, I would circle the duck and umbrella. Why? They both get wet! Another brilliant response after seeing a mailbox, table, and step stool, I would surely circle the mailbox and stepstool because in childhood I would drag a stool down the street to mail letters at the box.
I loved seeing visual relationships and still do.
Struggling to start my treasure maps series, I realized I am lost. I am approaching the work in a different way. I don’t have a true agenda and I am not premeditating. I am just making marks. I noticed some triangles emerged. I thought “Those triangles always manage to make their way into my art!” This got me thinking of some of the images of my own visual vocabulary. These are elements, symbols, or components I have repeated for decades. Here are some examples of some I found in past work:

Feathers always appear year after year.

This is a weird one. BIRDS! I am not fond of birds. Even the way I paint them is always static and emblematic. Yet for some reason, I have this compulsion to put them in paintings every so often. I have a painting in my studio waiting to be finished and of course, there is a bird as the focal point.

Hands I understand. I have bizarrely small hands and feet. I tell people it is a genetic flaw. LOL I think I have always put my hand print in work because it is a simple way of saying “Sheree was here.”

Of all the shapes, triangles are my favorite. They pop up everywhere in my work. I get some kind of pleasure drawing them, painting them, and looking at them.
Do you have a repetitious visual vocabulary?


Tom Tiernan said...

Hi Sheree

Interesting about you noticing the types of images you have created over a period of time.

We have noticed a similar pattern when people create images in response to questions using our facilitation tool which is based on photographs.

People will generally create the same basic visual patterns such as alignment to grid (or not), and/or using horizontal, vertical lines, etc.

There seems to be innate patterns that people relate to.

Sheree Rensel said...

I am sure this is true. I see this when I teach. Certain students have an identifiable "style" even at a very young age. Since I have taught at the same school for 15 years, I have seen these styles develop over time and the same kinds of lines, colors, and elements appear over and over again. I think this is so interesting. I wonder why. It is just another "brain" thing, I am sure.
Thanks for your comment!

self taught artist said...

i guess my comment didn't make it through last nights slow connection...
i had said something like
are you sure you were born in michigan? (were you?) you have such a southwest/indian feel about a lot of your work/palette.
i do like those feathers and triangles quite a bit.

Sheree Rensel said...

I know what you mean Paula. Isn't that kind of weird. Yes, I am a DEE-troit girl! The only thing I can think of that brings that southwest feeling out in my work is an experience I had when I was a teenager. I went on a trip to central Mexico. That trip made a huge impression on me. It was like I saw color and form for the first time. From then on, I always loved bright, pure color and naive, folk art. Even in college I was influenced by outsider art and any thing tribal. So it goes!

self taught artist said...

that makes sense
thanks for explaining...
nice to think about how a midwest gal went to mexico and got turned on to color..i felt the same way when i left illinois and moved to arizona.
nothing compares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sheree Rensel said...

YES Paula! It is very much the same. Detroit is grey. Illinois isn't much different. When you travel and see other parts of the earth, you can experience a new vision. How great is that????