Studio Project 1
Intersection of Penn and Seventh
Arriving at the intersection of Penn and Seventh, I noticed that the area on all four street corners had been heavily landscaped. There were trimmed hedges, potted plants, and flowering trees. In addition to the vegetation, the intersection was paved with brick instead of asphalt On one corner there was the Agnes R. Katz Plaza which had an enormous water feature made of stacked slabs of stone surrounded by trimmed trees. Around the fountain were benches that were shaped like eyes. Across the street there was another park, which was walled with ivy on two sides and was home to several flowering trees. Diagonally across from this park there was a paid parking area, which was similarly decorated with trees and other plant life.
There were a variety of people hanging out there. At the bus stop there were homeless people, working class people, and others dressed in suits coming back from a day at the office. There were also mothers with their children and teenagers who had just come back from football practice. There was lots of pedestrian traffic due to the bus stop along with people who were spending time sitting in the parks on benches. Along with pedestrian traffic, there was bike traffic. There was even a sculptural sign that said “I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bike.” The automobile traffic was not too bad and people felt safe enough to walk across the street without a cross signal. At one point two woman carried carts of snacks across the street. Amongst the crowd, there was also a woman dressed in a yellow uniform who was picking up trash.
The buildings around the intersection were tall and mostly office buildings and a few apartments. Some had cafés on the ground level, but no one was sitting in them. On one corner of the street there was a theater. And all of the streetlights around it were holding up posters that said “The Cultural District.” I walked down the street about a block in each direction and the streetlights no longer had signs and the sidewalks were no longer adorned with plant life. The pedestrian traffic was also much lower. The Intersection of Penn and Seventh was a green oasis where people wanted to stay for a while.
Cutting a white on white paper illustration of the intersection of Penn and Seventh has forced me to pick out what is important and descriptive about the space. I did two attempts from two different viewpoints. The first was a view was looking past a bus station into a park and the second was looking from the park to the bus station. I like the second view better because it shows the sculptures and fountains in the park along with the fact that it is a bustling place opposed to the picture of the bus, which only emphasized the people.
From the beginning, I was torn between these two vantage points because the one of the park would be very recognizable to the people that have been there before because of the unique decoration. However, for the same reason, much of the scene would be unrecognizable to someone who has never been there. That is why for my first round I chose to emphasize the bus station and have the park in the background. After making the first cutout, I realized that the image I made could have been any intersection in any city. So for my second image, I switched to a picture that had the sculptures in the park, which communicates more about the space.
The class discussions helped me rethink what I wanted to emphasize in my illustration. In the first picture, I had many layers of cut paper that were meant to look like trees, but while they looked more realistic, they were so complicated that they took away the attention from what was important and didn’t communicate anything important about the space. I fixed this in the second attempt by representing the trees in one layer. This allowed the cutouts of the fountain, sculptures, and pedestrians to be more prominent in the composition. Now the picture shows that there has been a huge amount of effort put into making the space a really nice and pleasant to be in.
When I converted to greyscale, I decided that I would use the tones to create depth. I made the lighter tones farther away and the darker tones close up. The one dark tone seemed to be significantly darker than the rest so I used it to emphasize the important parts of the composition. The fountain along with the bush in front and the eye sculptures I decided to make dark. I also decided to make the windows of the buildings in the background dark because the buildings themselves were a light tone so anything lighter would make it look like the lights were on in the buildings.
After going over the cut paper illustrations with the class, I learned that the eye sculptures in my piece were distracting. When others looked at the piece all they could see was a pair of eyes staring at them. I thought of a few solutions to solve this problem. One was to cut out the second eye. I tried this, but it only made it unclear what the sculpture was, so I knew I needed to show it repeated. Next, I tried adding a third eye sculpture. This helped because when there is three of them, it doesn’t look like a face staring at the viewer. After cutting out a third eye sculpture and moving it around, I decided they all looked too much like two-dimensional representations of eyes. To fix this, I played around with rotating the sculptures and showing them at different angles.
After looking over my illustration in the critique, I also realized that along with the eyes, It would be very hard to tell what the fountain was if the viewer had never visited the space. To fix this I experimented with using a lighter value on top of the fountain to represent water cascading down.
The next step in the process was to pick one tone from the grayscale illustration and replace it with a color. I was between using green and using a dark blue. The green I would use to emphasize all of the plants that were in the space. However, when I took the image into photoshop and started making all of the plants green, there was too much green and it was overwhelming. The green stood out so much that it drowned out the rest of the composition. Looking at it from a distance, all I could see were green blobs because they overpowered the background of the image which provided important context for the viewer to understand what the green shapes were.
Next, I tried replacing all of the sculptural elements in the park with a dark blue which was similar to the dark stone that the sculptures were made out of. This was more understandable than the green, but all of the sculptures were in the bottom left corner of the composition, which seemed too imbalanced. To fix this I also made the bush that is in the foreground, the people and the windows of the buildings all blue as well. This got more blue in the rest of the composition and emphasized important details about the space. The blue showed that the space was highly decorated, used by people and was landscaped. The windows, though not unique to the intersection, I highlighted to remind the viewer that this intersection was in the middle of a busy city and the space is surrounded by sky scrapers. This made the space feel more like an urban oasis, which is the original impression that I had of the space.
To get to the final three paper cutouts, I edited the grayscale and the white on white to match the layout of the accent color.