Drawing and Painting is a popular art course for underclassmen or anyone looking for an introduction to art. The class uses several different mediums to depict many different kinds of subject materials from still lifes to self portraits. Having taken the course myself in years past, I believe that I have valuable insight on a piece by Laura Boznango that others may overlook. The piece was submitted as part of what I shall call “The Hands Project” where students are told to bring in an item and take a picture of themselves using it, their hands being the focus of the piece. The image is printed, and then students make a grid on an oil pastel board and upscale the image. While the focus of the piece is to focus on the subject’s hands, another important element is the use of color. Oil pastels are known for their superior blending, and so they are capable of incorporating vibrant colors in a way paints and pencils cannot.
Boznango makes excellent use of deep purples in the shadows of her face and the dark reflections of her sunglasses. The clothing is well textured and she is careful to not use too much black or grey in blending, as it makes the white muddy and much less visually appealing. The textures overall are brilliant: one can easily distinguish between the metallic surface of her sunglasses to the fabric of her sweatshirt to the locks of her hair. While color can help this substantially, I commend Boznango for her shading technique to help bring the piece to life. The face is beautifully rendered; the highlights on her cheekbones and shadows cast by her nose bridge are perfectly placed. The eyelids especially look almost photorealistic. Her understanding of lighting and cast shadows create a three-dimensional feel for the figure’s face. Knowing when to blend softly and define bold, hard colors displays confidence in her artistic capability.
However, the project was a focus on hands, and my first impression on seeing this was that it was more of a self portrait. Her hand is mostly obscured by her sleeve, and her fingers are on the far side of the frame. While the index finger and thumb are right near where the focus is, the shading of those fingers makes them poorly defined. They seem disembodied from her hand, like they are simply undefined shapes rather than a part of something bigger. Additionally, the lighting does not seem to carry over to her eyebrows. Despite the left side of her face being considerably darker, both eyebrows are the same color, making it look like they are just floating on top of her face, rather than being incorporated with the rest of the piece. The same can be said of her lips which appear a bit too red. The shape of her neck is also partially obscured by her hair, and at first glance it appears to be extremely narrow. Additionally, I feel as though some darker shadows along the jawline could help give a better sense of depth, even if the side of her neck is out of view.
While there are a few scrupulous nitpicks, the piece looks gorgeous both up close and from further away. Her attention to detail is a refreshing change of pace from some of the other pieces displayed in the gallery. The work may not focus the hands as much as I would have liked to see, but she demonstrates mastery over the medium nonetheless. Boznango’s hard work is clearly demonstrated in this great work of art.