You are on page 1of 14

Title: Paintings of the Nature within Human Nature


I plan to create a visual environment that places viewers within a world where creation,

destruction and the balance between hold identical importance. The viewers will be the center of

the exhibit, as their eyes meander through the imagery and the inference therein they will realize

that this work is about them and situations they must encounter in their lives. The connection

between the viewer and the imagery will not be passive; this work will inflict a perspective,

forcing them to examine their lives within new parameters. The aim is not to be despotic

however, but to inspire a new stage of observation in the everyday normalcy of life, death, and

everything in between. (114 words)


At its core, art has always been a means of communication. Although many times art

seems to communicate only aesthetics, it also has the capacity to convey complex concepts—for

example science. One of the greatest examples of this is the work of Leonardo DaVinci who was

able to convey his scientific theories through artwork (e.g., the Vitruvian Man).

Although I neither claim the scientific nor the artistic prowess of DaVinci, my project

aims to loosely pull from contemporary scientific theories to inform my artistic concept. The

goal of my proposed work is to present a visual exploration of the fluctuations that occur in

human systems and how the fluctuations interact. In essence I am exploring the complex

associations among thought, culture, and biological mechanisms in humans. Because describing

all possible interactions among human systems would be an insurmountable task, the focus of the

project will be on only a select few (i.e., population growth, pollution, birth defects, political

systems, social identity, mental health, debt).

Painted imagery will be used to convey these associations to the public. The paintings

will consist of realistic imagery interacting with abstracted surroundings. For example, one pair

of paintings in my proposed set will depict the way population growth affects rates of pollution

that lead to rising numbers of birth defects (Gupta, Gupta, Chhabra, Eskiocak, Gupta, & Gupta,

2008). In the painting related to pollution and birth defects, I will incorporate images of factories

lining a river, where the river itself is not realistically depicted but painted using a combination

of colors that emphasize its toxicity (e.g., chromium oxide green, burnt umber, black, earth

yellow, orange).

My goal is to visually communicate a necessity that humanity understands the

implications of its involvement in the natural world.



Like so many things, art’s communicative value is based on relevance and the message

being conveyed. There are many artists that relay scientific concepts through their work,

however, few have approached usage of a myriad of connected concepts to create a common

theme, and none have approached these concepts the way I am proposing to.

Alexis Rockman is a contemporary painter whose work is grounded in ecology. He paints

a wide array of animal species, sometimes in bizarre scenarios. He has used his work to express

his distress over the destruction of wildlife habitats. One series of his in particular focused on the

inevitability of all habitats being destroyed and being replaced by coinciding space ships. The

message becomes a warning to the viewer that if things do not change everything in nature will

be replaced by an artificial representation.

Instead of the focus being on one potential fluctuation this project will incorporate many,

accentuating the depth of the concept to the viewer. The series will not be only about pollution

and its ramifications but also about the complexities of human interaction, the structure of

societal norms, ideas of debt, love, hate and everything in between. Being that the series’

attention will not be paid solely to one aspect of human systems, there will be greater potential

for the viewers to find a relationship to the work’s imagery. This series will be a forum for

humanity’s success and blunders.

This work is meant to find and communicate the commonality that is in many different

facets of what makes us who we are.


This project will represent a culmination of what I have learned up to this point at Idaho

State University. I will use the information absorbed from science courses and the technical and

conceptual approaches learned and practiced in studio courses.

Through this project I will gain a greater understanding of relating artwork to the general

public than I ever could in a studio art course. The ability to communicate ideas and emotion

through artwork to an audience is perhaps the greatest challenge of an artist, and a quality that all

great artists share. This project will be a major stepping-stone on my way to becoming a

successful working artist.

After I graduate from Idaho State University I plan to further my education. The

experience I will receive from completing this project would be without measure when the time

comes for me to endure the rigors of obtaining a graduate degree.


My first goal is to construct four 6’x4’ and two 4’x3’ canvas covered panels. These

substrates will consist of a rectangular frame built from 1”x4” select pine boards, a sheet of

tempered hardboard will then be mounted on the frame and then canvas will be stretched over

the hardboard. The hardboard is meant to support the structure of the frame as well as protect the

canvas from potential damages that may occur while painting or transporting the pieces—

specifically it will allow me to aggressively paint without the canvas becoming loose.

The entire series will be created in a modular fashion, meaning that any one painting

will be able to link with any other painting via connecting imagery. I plan on drilling holes in the

frames of the canvases so that each painting can be connected physically with bolts. The

reasoning behind the modular technique is to illustrate the interconnectivity of the themes as well

as to establish a visual repetition through the series that the viewer will be able to follow back

and forth through the expanse of the paintings. Having the ability to modulate the paintings lends

the prospect of presenting the work in a multitude of ways, potentially altering the viewer’s

experience of the paintings as the connections change, in this way the paintings will remain

fascinating with every new arrangement (for an example of this technique in my previous work

see appendix A).

I will paint all of the paintings together in stages to ensure the continuity of the series.

First I will stain the raw canvas with a “wet on wet” application of acrylic paint; this style of

application allows for interesting blends of color and will serve as an atmospheric backdrop for

the paintings. Once the acrylic paint is distributed I will seal it on the canvas with an acrylic

matte medium; the medium keeps the stains from being altered with further applications of paint

and will aid to a visual distance between the acrylic under-paintings and the foreground that will

be painted with oil.

The imagery (foreground) of the paintings will consist of realistic depictions of human

figures interacting with a variation of other realistic and abstract imagery according to the

scenario of the piece.

Each painting’s imagery will focus on a specific component of the theme. There will be a

painting dedicated to the following aspects: (1) human subsistence patterns transitioning to

systems of direct or indebted reciprocation and how the individual is affected, (2) stages of

mental health within a culture and how ideals of mental health and disease have changed

throughout human history, (3) population growth and how it relates to increased pollution, (4)

increase in birth defects due to a rise in pollutants, (5) oscillation between stability and unrest in

political and social systems, and (6) how personal identity is formed and changed due to

experiences and how cultural identity affects personal identity and vise versa.


JAN 15, 2010 Construction of all canvases completed

FEB 15, 2010 Completion of under painting on all canvases

MAR – JUL, 2010 Initial imagery painted on all canvases

OCT 15, 2010 Completion of all imagery

NOV – DEC, 2010 Exhibition of Series


After the initial hurdle of completing the series, the next step is to display the work.

There are multiple local venues where exhibition would be possible. It is my plan to utilize a

local gallery like The Cordillera Gallery, located inside The Walrus and The Carpenter, a space

where I have previously exhibited work. There are also venues in Boise that I plan to approach,

such as The Basement Gallery and the J Crist Gallery to further the project’s exposure.

During the completion of the project, if possible I would like to be able to display a

portion of the work during ISU research fair in the spring. This would be a very beneficial

forum; I could gather feedback from scientific researchers to strengthen the process of generating

artistic works.

My senior B.F.A. exhibition will incorporate the completed series; however, it will not be

the only work shown, nor will my senior exhibition be dependent on this project. I am actively

making work in studio courses that will be used as well. It will be exciting to show both bodies

of work together because they will technically and conceptually play well off of one another.

After my senior show has elapsed I will enter the project in as many galleries, shows and

contests that I can find.



Coupland, J. (2009). Discourse, identity and change in mid-to-late life: interdisciplinary

perspectives on language and ageing. Ageing & Society, 29, 849-861.

Embree, L. (2009). Phenomenology and Social Constructionism: Constructs for Political

Identity. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 40, 127-139.

Gupta, S., Gupta, R., Chhabra, S., Eskiocak, S., Gupta, A., & Gupta, R. (2008). Health issues

related to N pollution in water and air. Current Science, 94, 1469-1477.

Heriot-Maitland, C. (2008). Mysticism and madness: Different aspects of the same human

experience? Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 11, 301-325.

Liebenberg, L. (2006). Persistence Hunting by Modern Hunter-Gatherers. Current

Anthropology, 47, 1017-1025.

Patnaik, U. (2003). Global Capitalism, Deflation and Agrarian Crisis in Developing

Countries. Journal of Agrarian Change, 3, 33-66.

Reid, S., Palomares, N., Anderson, G., & Bondad-Brown, B. (2009). Gender, Language, and

Social Influence: A Test of Expectation States, Role Congruity, and Self-Categorization

Theories. Human Communication Research, 35, 465-490.

Ritz, B., & Wilhelm, M. (2008). Ambient Air Pollution and Adverse Birth Outcomes:

Methodologic Issues in an Emerging Field. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology &

Toxicology, 102, 182-190.

Appendix A: two paintings that demonstrate the use of modular imagery

Connection of Imagery via Flower

Connection of

Imagery via Skull Connection of

Imagery via Torso



Supplies for building canvases (wood, tempered hardboard, canvas) $208.64

Oil paints and oil medium $1204.40

Acrylic paints and acrylic medium $114.94

Brushes and palette knives $88.24



Below are tables listing every material I am requesting and the reasons for doing so.


To build six canvases, four 4’x6’ and two 3’x4’ I will need the products listed below.

Select pine boards will be used to insure that warping of the frame will not occur after the canvas

has been stretched. The tempered hardboard will be used to strengthen the integrity of the

structure and to serve as a protective measure when the painting is being transported—something

is less likely to puncture the canvas if it is backed by a hard surface. The canvas is the surface

that will be painted upon.

Product description Quantity & Price Total Price
1”x4”x8’ Select Pine Boards 16 @ $7.67 $122.72
1/8”x4’x8’ Tempered Hardboard 6 @ $6.57 $39.42
4 1/2’x3’ Cotton Canvas 10@ $4.65 $46.50


Because I will be covering one hundred and twenty square feet of canvas for this project I

will need to use a large amount of paint. I chose oil paint as my main medium because oil is

superior to other painting mediums with its richness of color, its slow drying time for blending

and its permanence.

Along with a quart of white paint I have selected eight core colors that will be used the

most often, and seven additional colors that will help to create a deeper variety of hues. For the

core colors I have selected 16oz cans, and for the additional colors 8oz cans. The variance in

price is due different pigments. Certain pigments cost more, but cannot be replicated with

inferior replacements—for example, natural cadmiums are more expensive than synthetic

pigments but give a purer and more brilliant color.

The mediums: liquin, linseed oil, turpentine will be used to manipulate the viscosity and

flow of the paint. Turpenoid is used as cleaning solvent.

Alizarin Crimson 1 @ $77.29 $77.29
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Burnt Umber 1 @ 50.99 $50.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Cad Red Deep 1 @ 138.99 $138.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Cad Yellow Deep 1 @ $109.99 $109.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Cerulean Blue 1 @ $164.99 $164.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Chromium Ox Green 1 @ $77.29 $77.29
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Cobalt Blue 1 @ $138.99 $138.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Ivory Black 1 @ 50.99 $50.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 16oz Can
Titanium White 1 @ $45.99 $45.99
Utrecht Artists' Oil Paint, Series 1, Quart
Olive Green 1 @ $35.29 $35.29
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Phthalo Emerald 1 @ $32.99 $32.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Burnt Sienna 1 @ $28.59 $28.59
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Hansa Yellow 1 @ $44.99 $44.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Prussian Blue 1 @ $35.29 $35.29
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Earth Red 1 @ $44.99 $44.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Earth Yellow 1 @ $44.99 $44.99
Gamblin Oil Paint 8oz Can
Distilled Turpentine 1 @ $25.99 $25.99
Winsor & Newton 1 Ltr
Liquin 1 @ $38.29 $38.29
Winsor & Newton 1 Liter
Linseed Oil for Oil Painting, Utrecht, Quart 1 @ $9.49 $9.49
Turpenoid 32oz Can 1 @ $12.99 $12.99


Acrylic paint will be used for the principal under-painting and priming of the canvas. The

acrylic gel matte medium will be used to create a flattening effect between the acrylic under-

painting and the oil painted foreground. The acrylic paint I have selected is drastically less

expensive than the oil paints because they are of a lesser, student-grade quality. It is more cost-

effective to work this way since acrylic will be the under-painting.

Gel Matte Medium for Acrylic Painting, 1 @ $34.99 $34.99
Utrecht, Gallon
Bright White 1 @ $15.99 $15.99
Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Paint, Quart
Deep Black 1 @ $15.99 $15.99
Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Paint, Quart
Red Deep 1 @ $15.99 $15.99
Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Paint, Quart
Ultramarine Blue 1 @ $15.99 $15.99
Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Paint, Quart
Yellow Ochre 1 @ $15.99 $15.99
Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Paint, Quart


The palette knives I am requesting are made for handling and stirring larger amounts of

paint. The 3” nylon and 4” bristle gesso brushes will be used mostly in the under-painting but

will also be used in covering large areas in the foreground, the difference of nylon and bristle

will create a variety of texture and line quality.

The two sets of sable brushes will be used for the foreground. The sable brushes are

especially apt for detail work, and being that they are made of red sable, a natural hair, their

reaction with the paint, quality and durability is superior to synthetic and synthetic blend brushes.

I have requested two sets because of the large color palette I will be working with and the

volume of space to cover.

Utrecht Special Forge Style Scraper - 4-1/4 1 @ $5.49 $5.49
Utrecht Square Diamond Palette Knife, 3- 1 @ $5.49 $5.49
1/4 in - Extra Large
Utrecht Kolinsky Red Sable Art Brush Set 2 @ $29.99 $59.98
for Detail Oil & Acrylic
Utrecht Bristle Gesso Brush 4in 1 @ $11.99 $11.99
Utrecht Nylon Gesso Brush 3in 1 @ $5.29 $5.29

 I certify that the information provided in this application is complete and

 I understand that as award recipient, I have ultimate responsibility for the
conduct of the study and the
ethical performance of the project.
 I agree to comply with all ISU policies and procedures, as well as with all
applicable federal, state, and
local laws.
 I will not modify the approved budget or procedures without submitting an
amendment to the Chair.
 I certify that I am not requesting wages for research for which I am
obtaining credit (course work or
independent study).

Applicant’s Signature___________________________________