“The heir of this culture”
Colored pencils on Bristol paper
“The heir of this culture” is an artwork which I created inspired by the topic “Illustrating yourself”. The artwork was made using pencils, colored pencils, ink, and Bristol paper in four main processes: drawing and tracing my self-portrait, sketching the artwork, inking and coloring. The self-portrait was sketched and shaded separately and then traced onto Bristol paper, details were then added by pencils. After the sketching process was done, I inked the majority of the artwork, using pens with different line weights since the contour lines of each part is different and then started coloring areas that I had inked. Several coloring techniques I used were: layering and build up colors, especially when coloring the skin and objects that needed value or perception such as the lanterns or the tree branches; mixing colors to create my desired hue by layering and building them up: this can be seen on the skin, the background,… I also used complementary and analogous colors to emphasize and harmonize the objects in my work.
This artwork focuses on illustrating myself as a Vietnamese person, which is why there are many cultural elements in it. These elements are significant because they help the audience distinguish Vietnamese cultures from other South East Asia country’s, it also reflects a bit of my bubbly, nature-friendly personality since the patterns and symbols that I used are features of the nature such as trees, flowers and ocean. All the patterns in this artwork appear on many Vietnamese ethnic minorities’ clothes and equipment. Not only are they very colorful and vary in designs, materials,… they also reflect the diversity of races in Vietnam. The lotus and yellow apricot blossoms are both symbolic flowers: lotus symbolizes the traditional morality of Vietnamese people: modesty, integrity, altruism, honest. The flower is also the symbol of Buddism, which is a religion that most Vietnamese, through many generations, have practiced and believed in; Apricot blossom is the symbol of the most important holiday in Vietnam – Tet (Luna New Year). It symbolizes the hope of happiness and success for the year ahead, it is also a sign for family reunions. Lastly, there are also the lanterns which always appear in Vietnamese important holidays and festivals, this element is special because these lanterns are traditional yet they can be designed in various modern ways.
Looking at this artwork as a whole, I mainly used two groups of hue which are blue/mint blue and orange/red and hot pink. These two groups are complementary, they created the contrast between the objects in the artwork and the background. I used the metallic gold and silver colors on the radial pattern because these patterns appear on Vietnamese traditional instruments, which are actually made from bronze or silver. The purpose of combining of blue and minty blue in the background is to help the audience visualizes the ocean and the blue sky; since my country is famous for having gorgeous beaches with beautiful blue sky and sunshine. The apricot blossoms are drawn in a realistic way to show the soft movement of the blossoms, which has given the whole artwork calm and relaxing feelings. The bright yellow hue of the blossoms contrasts with the branches also help brighten up the whole artwork.
There are several parts that I am satisfied with in “The heir of this culture”. As a whole, it is balanced in terms of both positions of the objects and the colors. My most favorite part is the yellow apricot blossoms at the top because it gives the whole work a sense of soft and slow movements. I also really love how my background turned out to be, it is exactly what I had visualized in my head before. Having said that, there are some parts that I ended up did not like so much and struggled with. For instance, even though I think the colors go together well, they are a bit off, they are not vivid enough. If I could change something in this work, I would color them more intensely and give more values to the object to create dramatic shadows and strong perception. Inking is something that I struggled with the most throughout the process since I was not familiar with it. I hope by practicing more in the future, I will be able to overcome these struggles and improve in my next artworks.