The Smithsonian American Art Museum is showcasing 66 paintings and drawings by Yasuo Kuniyoshi in an exhibition called "The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi." This is the first comprehensive overview of his work by a U.S. museum in more than 65 years.
I saw the show not too long ago and will admit to never hearing about this artist. Strolling through the exhibition halls I was drawn to both the art and Kuniyoshi's life story. A lot of his works reflect his quest to investigate the concept of identity. Kuniyoshi defined himself as an American artist while remaining aware that his Japanese origins played an important role in his artistry. As an immigrant to the U.S., I am daily considering how I view my own identity.
Kuniyoshi rose to prominence in the New York art world during the 1920s. He was inspired by American folk art, Japanese design and iconography and European modernism. His art can be linked to stages of his life. For instance, he started with portraits of oddly proportioned figures, but his long stays in Paris resulted in painting of reflective women.
His earlier pieces are wonderful - they are full of color and his lifestyles drawn attention as they display odd objects. However, the part of this exhibition that most caught my attention - as it highlights the concept of identity - are Kuniyoshi's works created during the Second World War.
While Kuniyoshi was integrated into American life, immigration laws prevented him from becoming an American citizen. Classified an “enemy alien” after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he remained steadfastly on the side of his adopted country during the painful war years, working with the Office of War Information to create artworks indicting Japanese atrocities. After the war, Kuniyoshi developed a compelling late style, with bitter subjects and paradoxically bright colors.
If you just stop at the Museum during your lunch break or spend a long time studying the pieces and their stories, this show is well worth your attention. It is on display until August 30, 2015, on the 1st floor West, American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, N.W.).
I set a challenge for myself: to draw a new dress once a day. I started with tracing a croquis, then moved to free hand sketching of the figures and focusing on how to render fabrics. My latest adventure is to locate ads in fashion magazines that I can use to study poses for my sketches.
It's been a lot of fun! My sketches now have more movement and mood and showcase my designs better. I spend a bit of time reviewing the ad - it's ambiance and scale. Then, I transfer it as closely as possible into my sketchbook. Finally, I dress the figure in my own design.
I mostly use color pencils - they are easy to handle as I can quickly decide on the thickness of each line. Sometimes, I use illustration markers to render skin color. I would like to expand my skills and experience with watercolor and gauche.
Do you do anything on a daily basis? How do you improve and measure your progress? Let me know!
Hattie Carnegie (1880 - 1956) was a fashion entrepreneur based in New York City from the 1920s to the 1960s.
I have been keeping you up to date about my latest class project: a little white dress designed for a woman in her mid-20s and 30s. I am almost done! The sample is with the seamstress and she is working to create the final dress so I can ship it to the Academy of Arts University.
The class simulates a real life experience. I am learning how to communicate my design ideas to another person who is then tasked with creating the final product. To facilitate this discussion and transfer of information, fashion designers use construction sheets with call outs and technical drawings of the various elements relevant to the production.
Below you can see my constructions sheets for the little white dress. The pages provide details about labels/hang tags, darts, constructions of neckline and armholes, and the finish of the skirt hem. The purpose of these construction sheets is to be precise and clear.
It has been a great experience learning how to convey my ideas to another person. I am looking forward to the final little white dress!
If you are wandering around Washington D.C. and enjoying the local history and architecture, you may be interested in "Experience America" - a permanent collection of art works at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
I am always intrigued by art that reflects a specific period in history. It is so fun to delve in and see how different artists experienced a similar time and how they chose to communicate it through their art. "Experience America" is an in-depth study of the 1930s in the United States.
As you walk around, you will come across art commissioned through President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs. At that time, the federal government paid artists to paint/sculpt with the intention to portray the American way of life. Many artists studied the landscape. Others focused on the working people and local industries. Ultimately, they all depicted local communities and shared stories of people during the Great Depression.
I just recently browsed through the collection and despite having seen it several times, still found great pleasure in the stories the paintings tell. Check it out!
Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation
When I think denim, I most often think jeans. The staple of our wardrobe; the iconic garment of the country. I love my jeans and have explored DIY projects, e.g., I bleached a pair, which I now enjoy very much. However, denim is extremely versatile and as I am obsessed with dresses, it is well worth to take a look around and see how denim can be turned into fabulous dress options for any occasion.
See below! So many finishes, so many cuts, so many silhouettes! I am a fan of dresses that can function well across different social occasions. The ones below can be dressed down or dressed up. Also, denim is a long-lasting fabric, sturdy and reliable. It can be treated to get different looks - a bleached denim dress would be perfect for a brunch with friends; a dark denim dress would work well for a business casual office.
Which one would you wear? How would you style it? Let me know!
Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota has a fascinating installation on show at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washiongton D.C.
The piece is rather monumental. Upon seeing it, I was at first overwhelmed by the number of shoes on display and then taken aback by the feeling of intimacy once I learned about the project. Shiota is fascinated by the human experience over time. She collects discarded shoes - they represent past moments. Each shoe in the installation has a story written on a piece of paper and attached to it. These stories, even when one cannot read them, make the large art piece feel familiar. Shiota certainly draws of our experiences and memories of the past.
What I enjoyed the most was the variety of shoes - each shoe has its own character and style, like human beings. Yet, the shoes are all attached by a string to a central single string. It is almost as if Shiota reflects on the variety of our experience, yet understands that we all share a larger understanding of life.
The installation, called Perspectives, will be around until June 7, 2015. If you have a chance, stop by and see it!
My latest project is a little white dress. The design combines the iconic silhouette of the little white dress with a casual fabric (100% sportswear twill) so it allows the wearer to enjoy it in various social settings. I updated you earlier about the pattern and testing out my design idea.
Today, take a look at my muslin sample! It is done and it fits well! While the final dress will be completely white, I used two colors of muslin for the sample. The front panel and waist are done in beige muslin; the remainder of the dress is done in white muslin. This color contrast allowed me to evaluate proportion of the design details. And I think everything came together well!
Next steps? Sewing the dress in final fabric, creating a woven label, and designing hang tags with essential information about the dress.
I will keep you posted!
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. has a show worth seeing: Elaine de Kooning: Portraits. The exhibition gives an in-depth view into the creative process of the wife of Willem de Kooning, a famous a Dutch American abstract expressionist.
Elaine (1918 - 1989) focused on portraits of friends and family. Her work was valued during her lifetime and her friends included Allen Ginsberg and Fairfield Porter. Her figures, done in vivid colors and wide brushstrokes, are large-scale, impressive, and intense. Even across an exhibition room, her portraits hold attention and make a statement. Elaine did many studies of each subject - in charcoal and in paint. She enjoyed working on the same pose until she captured the person's personality - something special about them, something that set them apart, e.g., a gesture or the warmth of their eyes. Ultimately, through her work, she was seeking an answer to "What makes a person?" question (apart from the physical aspects of each individual). Color scheme was a huge element in conveying a person's character.
Elaine de Kooning is famous for her portraits of John F. Kennedy. She characterized them as “a glimpse” of the president through an accumulation of sketches and finished likenesses. In 1962, Elaine was commissioned to paint his portrait during his winter sojourn in Palm Beach, Florida. As with her other portraits, Elaine did many sittings with the President and tested out different media to capture his personality and her impression of him.
If you have time to spare and want to learn about Elaine's work, stop by the National Portrait Gallery.
Elaine de Kooning: Portraits is on display March 13, 2015 - January 10, 2016.
I am learning so much in the Trends Analysis and Product Development class I am taking this semester at the Academy of Arts University! In addition to researching the fashion industry, I am deepening my fashion design skills through a production of a dress.
I designed a little white dress to market to the urban areas of the East Coast. The dress is for women who would wear it at work (e.g., on a business casual Friday) and then head to a party or a dinner with friends. The design combines a fitted top with a voluminous circle skirt on the bottom. The silhouette is both classic and classy and works for a professional environment. The fabric, a sportswear twill in 100% cotton, makes this dress also feel casual and allows the wearer for an easy transition to her leisure activities.
The product development part of the class requires that I do not make the dress myself. Rather, I had to identify a seamstress and work with her to get this dress professionally made. In order to do so, I drafted the pattern. At the moment, I am testing the pattern - I am making a muslin sample. I cut out all of the pieces and started assembling them together. Everything fits!
I am looking forward to completing the sample and meeting with the seamstress to start the actual production of the dress in the sportswear twill.
Come back to this site to keep up to date with my progress!
Welcome! My textile/fashion design brand RADOST™ (Czech) is all about JOY (English).
In the blogs, I bring you thoughts on textile and fashion design, art, and travel.
Check back often, as creativity never sleeps (well, almost never) and surround yourself with joy!