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Jennifer Lee
Exploring the Universe

10.5″ x 8″


Deepti Menon, Filmmaker & Animator

Deepti Menon
Filmmaker & Animator

Artist Statement
“I am aspiring to be an illustrator. I currently go to an arts high school in Canada and that is where this project began. This pencil drawing is from a collage made with photographs from National Geographic. This plays an important role in the theme of my work because it portrays making something out of nothing, similar to the big bang that created the universe. This study was further translated into an etching (a plexiglass

I contrast the old with the new, and highlight the unknown through the boys jumping into the vast space and the children playing checkers. I illustrate the theme of exploration through the uses of paper fragments, both in the background literally, and conceptually, if you knew this was based on a collage. The reason I have this scene against a white background is to illustrate an element of uncertainty and fear. As we explore our lives and the universe, mentioned in the title, we may find uncertain things that our mind cannot make sense of, and only in art can we portray it.”

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Video Transcript

“I’m really getting a sense of childhood happiness and a very surreal feeling when looking at this. It also feels theatrical to me because of the lights in the buildings that have a set-like feeling to them. I’m really curious about the white horizontal lines or rips that appear in the background of the piece and the white border. I’m not quite sure what purpose they serve but perhaps they are rips in the illusion of this childlike happiness or a pathway to another dimension, maybe the imagination of the kids in the foreground.

I’m also noticing a very small figure coming out of the darkness of the background, almost motioning a ‘hello’ to the three figures in the back. This also makes me feel as though there is some sort of alternate reality or dimension.

I’d encourage you to play around with composition, layering and diagonals because right now the bottom half of the image is a lot heavier and busier than the top half, and some of the figures like the boy on the bottom left are getting cut off when I don’t think they need to be. However, overall I think this piece evokes a lot of great curiosity in the audience and is exploring a lot of wonderful themes and ideas.”

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4 responses on "Jennifer Lee"

  1. This is a hugely ambitious piece! I think everyone has really good advice to be more intentional with how you’re using high contrast. Since you’re going for a very magical realism element with this style, I (of course!) have to recommend you look at the work of Chris Van Allsburg – in his work you’ll see two areas I think that could be really helpful for your future pieces.

    First, his anatomy and perspective. Perspective can be such a necessary tool for artist if realism is the direction you want to go – even if you’re using photo reference, you can still create inaccuracy because things are not sitting on the same plane. In this case, we appear to be looking at the girl head on, but seeing the checkers board slightly from above. Little things like that can lead to big mistranslations with work sometimes!
    Second, notice his use of strong lighting. You have a great example of this here in your work with the lightning bolt! How can you shadow and light this piece accurately with such a powerful source of illumination? Building a small model with clay and lighting it with different light sources is a great way to see just how powerful a change in illumination can be.

    This is such a stellar piece, I have to say again! You’re speaking in an art tradition that is long standing and very technique-heavy, therefore it is a tradition that takes a lot of rigorous practice in anatomy, composition, perspective and value. And you’re off to a great start!

  2. What a captivating piece! There’s so much here for us to sink our teeth into; whether it’s each distinct element or the cumulative mystery of the whole. I do agree with what has already been said about how uniformly high-contrast your drawing is, however, and that more attention could be paid to creating a hierarchy of focus for the viewer, and more spatial depth. I sometimes find that a helpful way to figure out whether or not a piece is working in this way is to just squint my eyes… Without all of that fine detail (which you have a true mastery of, by the way!), does the image still read? Is it clear what is in the foreground and what is in the background?

    It’s obvious that you have an impeccable handle on the material you’re working in, and no problem achieving a wide range of value – so now it’s only a matter of figuring out where each object would best fall within that range!

  3. This is a really ambitious composition! It’s wonderful the way that you’ve combined so many complex images together to create a very exciting and dynamic composition. This is a drawing that keeps the viewer fully engaged, every single section of this drawing offers something new to explore. The fact that so much is going on visually can be a curse and blessing; while the piece definitely grabs my attention, to a certain degree, it’s challenging to find any direction or focus, primarily because everything has been rendered to the same level of focus.

    I would consider what parts of the drawing you want to leap forward, and what parts of the drawing you can to push back into space. For example, the fact that the white paper fragments are located behind the 2 children playing checkers suggests that they should be further back in space.

    However, the paper fragments are so crisply articulated and so high in contrast that I actually bypass the children initially and go straight to the paper fragments. If you can think more deliberately about the depth you want to convey in this drawing, I think that would create a greater sense of depth in the piece.

    Not every part of your piece needs to be described in so much detail! Let yourself be an editor and select which parts you want to emphasize, and which parts you want to receded in space.

  4. This drawing is fun to look at. You have great contrast between lights and darks, and I feel as if this universe is being created and expanded upon directly from the minds of the children playing checkers. My eyes bounce around the entire composition, starting from the checkers game, climbing up the spotlights, jumping into the abyss with the time lapsed figure into the city scene below.

    I don’t get the sense of fear at all from the white. To me, the white coupled with the lights makes that area look like a flat set. You could have gotten that apprehension of the unknown better by expanding the black to the edges of the paper and strengthening the variation of dark tones across that spatial expanse.

    I do think working with paper collage and translating it to drawing is a good technique for you, and I’d love to see you continue using this method, maybe even by taking some of your own photographs of subjects, environments, and textures that interest you!

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