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My Process

Before the course started I thought of my artmaking process like this:

My artmaking process begins with finding inspiration. I look for ideas in my everyday life. When I see something that sparks my interest, I research it. I try to find all the information I can about the subject. Once I know more about the subject I want to make art about, I decide if I am still interested in making an artwork. If my interest is still peaked, I make some sketches for my artwork. I try to find a composition that is visually appealing.

Once I have chosen a composition, I think about what materials I want to use. I start to experiment with different materials and try to decide which ones are giving me the look I want. Once the materials are chosen, I begin to work on the actual piece. I usually chose paint as my medium. I begin my artwork by sketching out my piece with a pencil or charcoal and then go on to paint in my work. Often if I am not satisfied with how my piece is coming together, I completely start over. I rarely finish a piece before I move on to something else. Some pieces never get finished and some I finish quickly. Usually, I end up frustrated, uninterested and with nothing to show for all my time and effort.



While exploring the artmaking process, I took these steps:

Once my topic was chosen, I made a word web of all of the things that I could think of that had to do with social norms. Once I had my word web finished, I listed the key concepts of my big idea and chose some questions that I had about my big idea. Next, I needed to choose a topic that would be more specific than my big idea; I chose the changes in social norms in public education. After choosing my topic, I began to observe the social norms at my school. I jotted down items and incidents that interested me that I saw on a daily basis at my school.

I decided to make a KWL chart about social norms. I then needed to work on finding objects to draw in my visual grid. I thought about the social norms that I could remember from when I was in grade school and the social norms that I noticed at my school now. I made a list of the norms then and the norms now.

I then worked on my visual grid. I sketched 9 single objects that I felt represented social norms in public education. Next, I began contextualizing my objects. When I first began contextualizing my objects, I wasn’t sure where to begin or what to change first. First, I chose the paddle (the object I had chosen to represent the changes in discipline norms). I thought about what it used to mean in terms of discipline and decided it should be large, bright, and in the foreground in my first drawing. Next, I thought about what the paddle symbols in terms of discipline today. I know that only a few districts (including mine) still have corporal punishment, so I thought the paddle should be small, dark and far away. I repeated this process with my other 8 objects. Each time I had to think of how the object once reflected the social norms and how it fits into the social norms of today.


When I changed the context of my objects, it changed the meaning I intended for them. I found that the size, color and location of the isolated object changed the meaning the most. Items that represent common social norms, I showed as large and near the forefront of my drawings and items that represent social norms that have been replaced or changed, I showed as smaller and farther away. The color change represented the connotation I associated with the specific norm and how well I felt it served its purpose of establishing order in public schools. From this exercise, I see how important it is for us to think about the context of objects in our artwork when trying to portray a certain meaning.



Next, I began working with the drawing commands. I started with zooming in on my objects. I thought about how cropping different parts of each object gave a different meaning to the drawing. When cutting out part of the object, the meaning changed significantly, often losing the meaning I had intended for it. I next multiplied the objects and thought about how having a single isolated object gave a different meaning than having several of the same objects together. I liked the new meaning this brought to the drawing. I thought that using several of the objects could show how widespread that norm was or is and using a single object could show, depending on how you look at it, how important it was or how it is rarely used or has been replaced. I took a negative approach as the command I created by switching the colors and surface quality of the object and its background. Switching the color between the background and the object changed the mood of the object itself.

  Next, I began researching contemporary artists that worked with the big idea of social norms. I looked at Tricia Earl and her work with social norms. I then started looking at contemporary artists that used interesting processes that I would like to try. I researched the work of William Wegman and Claus Oldenburg among others for this.
  Then, I started working with oppositions that dealt with social norms. I found that each social norm that I had been focusing on in public education could be broken down into oppositions. (While most behaviors fit into one opposition or the other, some fell into the gray area in between. I think this hindered my big idea when I could not fit a behavior into one of the oppositions.) Breaking behaviors into the oppositions gave me new ideas for how the social norms have changed over time and what each social norm looks like when I see it at school.


I started by thinking about the three rules that we use at my school (ready, respectful, responsible). The oppositions that I used were:

1. Ready v. Unready

2. Respectful v. Disrespectful

3. Responsible v. Irresponsible

4. Disciplined v. Undisciplined

5. Accepted v. Unaccepted

6. Acceptable v. Unacceptable

  Next, I began to incorporate the play strategies into my artmaking process. I collaborated with my students and let them make objects for me to use in my artwork. I used the multiplicity approach and made sketches of how I could use multiple objects (from my original grid) to make other objects. I began to focus more on the actual artmaking process and creating artworks I could use for the big project. I made my artworks with different process (which I discuss on the artwork page). Finally, I started creating my webpages for the big project.