On Wednesdays, we look at artist statements and discuss the best vocabulary to describe an artwork. Today we’ll look at a piece by illustrator and photographer Natalie Shau.

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This is her artist statement from the Artist A Day website:

Natalie Shau is illustrator and photographer from Vilnius, Lithuania. Her digital masterpieces have graced the pages of the French Vogue Magazine during a Lydia Courteille jewellery campaign and her extensive client list of music labels includes Island Def Jam, Sony Music Entertainment (formerly “Sony BMG”) Century Media and Nuclear Blast.

Gothic horror fiction, fairy tales and Russian classics (e.g. Dostoevsky and Gogol) are among the influences she lists for her surreal and strange creations. Shau uses a range of media, mixing photography, digital painting and 3D. The quality she seeks is “at once fragile and powerful”.

In the first paragraph, the artist gives her background and talks about some of the places her work has appeared. She refers to her work as digital masterpieces. Digital means something created electronically – with a computer, camera, or other device.  A masterpiece means work done with extraordinary skill, and it is often used to describe classic works of fine art, like paintings or sculptures. It’s unusual to put these words together, so it catches the reader’s attention.

In the second paragraph, the artist shares her influences and describes her work. She calls her pieces surreal and strange creations. What is the difference between these two words? Do you think these are the best two adjectives to describe her piece? Other words she could consider are dark, mysterious, eerie, or ominous. One of the challenges of writing an artist statement is describing your work in only a few words – so you need to choose the best ones.

She describes her process with this sentence: Shau uses a range of media, mixing photography, digital painting and 3D. When used this way, a range of means a variety of things, or different types of something.  Her technique combines three kinds of media, so she uses this phrase to bring them together.

In the last sentence, she describes her style: The quality she seeks is “at once fragile and powerful”. In this sentence, we use the word quality to mean the feeling we get from the piece. Since fragile and powerful are opposites, or antonyms, it is interesting that she uses these words together. I think she means she wants to find a balance between these qualities in her work because it creates an interesting tension. This is a good idea because the final sentence is an important last impression to leave with your audience.

What do you think of this piece and the artist statement? Do you agree with my comments? Do you have questions about the vocabulary? Do you want to suggest a piece for me to discuss next week? Leave a comment below!

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

To see the original post at Artist A Day, click the link below: