Creating Artwork with Meaning - Use Research and Symbolism to Develop Your Pieces! | Jordan Hill | Skillshare

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Creating Artwork with Meaning - Use Research and Symbolism to Develop Your Pieces!

teacher avatar Jordan Hill, Illustrator and Storyteller.

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Research - General


    • 5.

      Research - Color


    • 6.

      Developing Your Idea


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Closing Thoughts


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About This Class

Have you ever created a piece of artwork and just weren't happy with it?

Have you ever wondered how some artists seem to create artwork steeped with meaning, artwork that makes you keep looking and thinking about it long after you've walked away?

In this class, I will discuss the methods I use to develop concepts for art pieces that are more than just surface level. We will discuss all of the different aspects that go into the creation of a finished piece, and I will even give a few tips on execution.

I'd love if you would join me in this class, and infuse your own artwork with meaning!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jordan Hill

Illustrator and Storyteller.


Hi, thanks for visiting! I'm Jordan, and I've been an artist and storyteller all my life.

I've always been intrigued by the arts and the sciences alike, and this curiosity has an impact on the way that I approach my artwork and life in general. The most important thing to me has always and will always be the emotion people get from experiencing my work. I want people to feel something, and I hope that I can help encourage you as well. 

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1. Introduction: everyone I'm Jordan and I create stories. For as long as I can remember, I've been writing and creating artwork in an attempt to speak my mind. This class will take you through the steps I used to develop concepts for my finished pieces of art I tend to approach are in a more structured, almost scientific manner. In this class will show you how this process works. From the initial spark of inspiration to brainstorming and researching to the actual execution. This class will help you develop a piece of art that explores a theme of your choosing. This process will infuse your artwork with meaning, giving a whole other layer of interest in entry beneath the surface, thus extending time that people spend looking at your art. This is not a technique oriented class, so there is no set list of materials you will be required to use. Instead, I encourage you to use whatever you feel will allow you to best express the idea you have in mind. The only thing I would recommend having on hand is a sketchbook, so you could get away with blue sheets of paper. So grab your supplies and let's get started 2. Finding Inspiration: one of the things many our struggle with is finding the inspiration to actually get started . I think there is a misunderstanding, especially among beginner artists, that you have to wait until you have a fully fledged concept in mind before you start working. This leads to the dangerous act of putting off your artwork, which is a good way to get out of practice. In addition to being a false thought, there's a quote I really like by Thomas Edison, who says success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. The supplies tar as well. There is the tiny spark of an idea that leads to a finished piece. But the concept of a fully fledged idea coming to you in a flash of genius is, by and large a myth. These tiny sparks of inspiration typically come in one of two ways. Probably the most common, at least for me, is a visual idea. This has to do with something physical, so something like a subject matter, or perhaps a color palette and the piece I will be creating in this course. The idea was black dripping from eyes, which is a visual idea. Some other examples of visual ideas are cherry tree or pink hair. The second type of idea is a conceptual idea for some people. These ideas are harder to represent visually, but they're much easier to infuse with meaning, because the idea itself is the meeting. The biggest problem, I think artists have but maybe don't realize, is not actually coming up with ideas but recognizing an idea when they see it. Though the idea of the involvement of inspiration is mostly a myth, there are several ways that you can prompt these ideas to show themselves. All of these include giving your brain some sort of input or material to work with. These can include nature and your surroundings. Museums or art sharing sites, music, magazines, books or the process of actually creating are my personal favorite sources. Outside of actually creating our our music and books, specifically nonfiction books, these can be just as relevant and coming up with ideas as fiction books and you learn a lot . Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to ideas is that you need to have some system of organizing them, or at the very least, make sure that you don't lose thumb. You can use a notebook, a program such as ever know or one note a Microsoft Word document or even post it notes. I use a combination of all of the above, though I tend towards post it notes because they're handy. 3. Brainstorming: as I mentioned in the last video, A spark of inspiration can come in either a physical or a conceptual form, and this is far from a fully fledged idea. Because of this, we will have to brainstorm to come up with the other half of the idea. There are many different methods of brainstorming, from free riding toe listing to mind mapping in this video. I will be using mind mapping, but feel free to do whatever makes you feel comfortable in order to create a mind map. We begin with one central idea than branch out concepts. From that central point. It is essentially an idea tree that you create using word association. No matter what method of brainstorming you use, I recommend that you brainstorm until the words or ideas start to relate and make connections that could be translated visually. When you're done with your brainstorming, take a photo or scan it, then posted in your project file 4. Research - General: As structured as it may seem, research can actually be extremely beneficial to the process of generating ideas. I tend to do my research after my brainstorming, since I'll typically have more things to research. Let's say, for instance, that in your brainstorm you decided that you wanted to depict a girl holding a bouquet of flowers. If you wanted her to appear in love, you may want to use red roses, a common symbol of love. For my project, I took notes on Objectivism, which was mentioned in a song I had chosen for the project. The number five way Stargazer lilies and our glasses for the number five and the lilies. I looked at general symbolism numbers and flowers in order to pick ones that fit my piece. When you're finished with your general research for your piece, update your project with what you've discovered in the next video, we will be discussing color 5. Research - Color: This is not a color very class, but I will be discussing color briefly. The usage of color could be incredibly important to the feeling of your finished piece in our piece that has oranges, one of its primary colors looks and feels much different than one that makes use of the color black. There is much symbolism surrounding the history of color, and the associations we have with specific colors has a huge impact on how we respond in interact with art. For my art piece, I ended up using a lot of dark blues, purples and blacks in order to represent the mysterious sadness and powerful transformation I wanted to portray in my piece. Update your project with your color research and tell us what you expect the feeling of your finished piece to be like as a result. 6. Developing Your Idea: the developing of your idea is the final step before the execution of your piece. This consists of finalizing your idea in putting the pieces together. I started out but playing around with a few different ideas for poses. Trying to decide which would look best within the context of the peace and the visual of black dripping from the eyes, I finally settled on a view of looking back over the shoulder, symbolising looking at the past. I then moved on to writing a summary of the story I was trying to tell. This helps give the peace some context and further cements the idea I am trying to represent. After this was complete, the final step was to do some thumbnails. If you don't know a thumbnail as a small version of your piece, where you can experiment with different versions and formats for your final when you were working on your thumbnails, you may find it useful to take notes on the subject matter, and things were experimenting with. It helps to write down your thought process so you can look back on and later, when you were done, poster thumbnails in your project and tell us which one you've chosen 7. Execution: As I have previously stated, This is not a class on how to draw, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about how to execute for peace. However, I will share a few tips on how best to execute the piece in the context of creating meaning . Something I personally find particularly useful is to choose a song that fits the idea of the peace and play it on. Repeat in the background as you work for this piece, I used objectivist on fire by Bayside. This technique may not be for everyone, but I find that it seeps into my subconscious and influences pace for this piece. I use the bird and the worm by the used Another tip is to be conscious about what you were doing while you work. Think about the meaning you are trying to infuse while you move your hand, and I find that the finished piece turns out better when you are creating your finished piece. Do not feel is that you cannot shift from your fun. Now, with this piece, I end up adding the stargazer Louisa's tattoos rather than scattering them throughout. The piece is I had initially intended. If you would like to see a longer time lapse of this piece or other pieces I have created, you can find them on my YouTube channel. World of immense. Um, when you're finished with your piece, please share it with us in your project. I look forward to seeing what all of you create. Ah. 8. Closing Thoughts: Now that we've reached the end of this course, I hope you can see the benefits of planning your finished pieces from start. I know that I prefer my finished pieces. When I approached them in this manner and I thought I would give you an example here. This was the piece that I created in this course before I applied this method to it. So you can see it's the same idea of a boy looking over his shoulder with black dripping from his eyes seem general concept. But after applying the context of this class, we have ended up with a much different result. Wait Can put up side by side for you, e. I hope you will give this process a chance. And if you do, please don't forget to post your finished project in your project files so we can all see what you've created. So thank you all for joining me in this class, and I hope you enjoyed it.