WHATWHYWHENHOW: Artwork Analysis 11


“back off!: the arsenal of a woman’s heart”. Mixed media on paper. 2010-2012. (This is kind of blurry and soon I will replace it with a more clear, crisp image.)

Another in a series of analyses on my art. Kinda belated with this one. It took me a while to complete the drawing to begin with and, now also, to post this analysis, but here it is!

Feel free to comment with questions you may still have.

back off!: the arsenal of a woman’s heart

WHAT:  As you first viewed this piece, without reading the article yet, you probably thought to yourself: We have a psycho in the building!! Don’t worry, I am not psycho. A bit quirky and kinda strange (in a good, artistic and non-creeptastic way that is), yes, but not psycho. This is actually opposite of violent! The image reads violent, the message does not. But more on the meaning below in the “Why” section. For now directly what this is is a heart with a band-aid (I had fun modeling the band-aid using a REAL band-aid…details mean alot to me; I am a realism, naturalism freak…right down to the tiny little holes on the strip) with a radiating field of weaponry and a sort graffiti imagery in the background. I’m not a firearms fan and I haven’t played the game yet, but: This is an NRA-slash-Call of Duty Black Ops DREAM artwork!!

WHY: Why did I want to draw something that causes people to question my mental and emotional health and to scare some observers? Well, 1st of all, being an artist I do not care what people will think when they see it. If you care about scaring people, you will not produce half of things you would like to as an artist. Art is about expressing thoughts and feelings; making a statement (whether personal or societal). The most I’ll say is I try not to be disrespectful while still maintaining being an artist. This drawing is basically a visual and symbolic (not to be taken literally) representation of protection. I (along with countless women) have experienced a few crappy relationships with dudes. And I get that men have had bad experiences with women, but being a woman…I am coming from a female perspective. One very bad, disappointing experience some years back caused me to think about a couple other retarded experiences before that one and so those snowballed into this one piece of art. I have had a better relationship, but with this piece I wanted to focus on the dumpier ones because: a) crappy relationships result in more visually exciting results with artwork and b) I felt like visually venting. So, instead of moping over tirones (‘jerks’ in Spanish!), I put that energy into art. I am not into moping over ingrates. So now I have a cool, awesome-tastic piece of art with guns.

Which leads me to the other part of the ‘Why’. This is where I explain the symbolism. There are some bullets piercing the heart. They symbolize pain that managed to reach the heart. The heart itself represents feelings. The band-aid represents healing. God is the ultimate healer and family, friends also help that along. A woman goes through the motions for a little bit and eventually we’ve gotten over it. Then we’re continuing life’s journey with fun visits to the bar and the beach while the maniquí (‘dummy’ in Spanish!…trying to connect to my Latin side) is a distant memory! You even forget their birthdates-I did! That is the heart having healed. The guns, rifles and knives symbolize protection. If the heart is a battlefield (as some say), then the battlefield needs an arsenal. And so the weapons symbolize a woman putting a wall up against anymore male ridiculousness, untruths, weirdness and those corny lines about taking you out or about love (eyeroll). This work also shows if a man dare to come with that mess, he will get FUDGED UP (you know I don’t mean ‘fudge’, but I gotta keep it clean………..)! All in all, this was not a bitter moment for me to hash out, this was an opportunity to be creative and I had fun doing it. It is exciting & satisfying to see a piece of art go from your mind to reality on a piece of paper, canvas or other medium! And there you have the reason behind the title. And there you also have why this is the opposite of  violence. It is about self-protection. It is purely symbolism and not me wanting to actually shoot a guy. Although I have wanted to punch many a man in the baby-maker.

WHEN: This was begun in 2010. I took a looong break (I lost creative ideas for this for a while) and then, after one or two restarts, finally finished it this year.

HOW: (I wrote on alot of the process in these 2 posts—> ‘Back to Basics: drawing in progress 1′ and ‘Back to Basics: drawing in progress 2′). Charcoal is the main media in this piece. Except for drafting areas and detail (graphite and colored pencil), this is mostly charcoal. This was meant to be a bold piece and so I needed to use bold tones. Charcoal does that. It’s rich and, depending on how hard you go with it, it’s very dark. Menacing. I like menacing. First, I started with the heart and its arteries and veins and all that great detailed stuff, 1st. I isolated some details with color. Including the blood (Get this: my Mom saw the drawing and suggested I add MORE blood to help with the realism of a heart bleeding…wow, Mom! Yikes! Lol… She was right, though. I listened.). I modeled this heart  after the one I ripped out of an ex. Just kidding! Gosh! Some dark, macabre humor for ya, there… Anatomy is fascinating to me and the construction of the body and its organs is, too, and I loved having an excuse to draw the heart, again. As I said above, I modeled the band-aid from an actual one. Just that little detail was fun to render. The bullets and cache of weapons was next and since this was the bulk of the point I wanted to make, I got really into loading the plane (work surface) with a collection worthy of yeeeaaars of jail time. The tonal work and detailing took some time. I did not want any of it to look cheesy. They had to look as menacing and emphatic as possible! The knives were drawn from knives I had in my possession. …that-I-took-from-the-KITCHEN just in case you are thinking: She hoards knives in her room. See?? What’d I tell ya? I told you. Psycho. And the rifles, guns and bullets I modeled from other sources because I don’t possess not one single firearm, let alone a stash that would have me searched quicker than you can say Don’t drop the soap! The last portion of the piece was the background and I wanted it to be gritty, grimy and definitely no flowers or bunnies. I didn’t want a flat, completely black groun, either. That would be too boring and too lazy for such a work. The design of the background, somewhat reminiscent of graffiti, I feel, reflects a few of the shapes in the work and I also went for a somewhat comic-look by outlining some portions with bold contour (outside linework) lines.

Below are more images of this piece:

DETAIL. Upper portion.

DETAIL. Bottom portion.

I am glad that I could finally post this artwork. It took for-EEEEE-VAR. But I did it and I hope you enjoyed reading and learning about it!

Thanks for reading this post and please do view my other posts and also pages in this blog!

view more art at: http://paintingsilove.com/artist/caloniejohnson THANKS!

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2 thoughts on “WHATWHYWHENHOW: Artwork Analysis 11

  1. Cuz! This piece is beautifully done. The analysis was HYSTERICAL!! You know I’m just out of surgery two days ago….my stomach wants to hurt so bad from laughing!!! You are too funny! I love the imagery you used. I wrote a song where the imagery in this piece would fit perfectly. It’s called “Think I Won’t”, about a woman so tired of her physically and mentally abusive man that she threatens him with a gun. The lyrics are kinda funny, but they were written from a place of pure anger. My 1st husband was very abusive but when he started hitting me, I left. A man can call me all the names he wants, but if he starts hitting me, it’s over. Only one will come out alive. So I left before it even got that far. Anyway…you’re amazing…the piece is amazing!

    • Hi, Pam!! Glad to read this from you and extra glad that you are done with surgery and beginning healing process (God is a healer!)! I try to spice up the writing with some humor to avoid souning like an art lecture class. Plus I am goofy, so I HAVE to infuse the humor. It is inevitable and unavoidable! And, yes, do not laugh tooo hard; I want you to heal, not hurt… Laugh on the inside! That is a funny and heartfelt story about the crappy ingrate called your ex-husband. Wow! Glad you are out of that and glad it didn’t escalate! Glad you have self control. My drawing and your song (love the in-your-face proud Black woman title!) go hand-in-hand. If ever you guys need album art, let me know. DISCOUNT for you! : ) And thank you very much for the compliments *blushing over here* You are awesome as well! You’re a survivor in many ways!

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