Mary Woolley Advanced Art Studio

Literary Project

This project was inspired by the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Throughout the book Minnie, one of the African American maids, finds herself unable to express herself because of her racist employer and the general closed mindedness of the community. In frustration, after she is unfairly fired, Minnie bakes a pie for her employers as an ´apology´, then later reveals that she had added a ´secret ingredient´. I painted the pie and a slice with a bite taken out of it in watercolors on watercolor board. I decided on this particular passage because I think that not only is it one of the most memorable chapters but this reaction shows Minnie´s strength and passion. She was a mother, an abused wife, and a black woman struggling to make ends meet in a town filled with racist ideologies in the South and yet she still had the energy and the self respect to know that she is worth so much more than what she was told.

I loved painting this because it is something that I am truly passionate about, both the novel and learning about the social issues of the time that still exist today in many places. I am not the best at watercolor and struggled with it a little but in the end my piece was exceedingly mediocre. Originally I was going to illustrate a piece of writing that I wrote myself but decided in the end that I would not like to display my writing and would rather make a statement about a book that confronts a serious social issue like The Help.

Best Part of Me

  • I am very blunt
  • I did not want to write this
  • Sorry not sorry.

I chose to attempt to represent what I think is the best part of me: my bluntness. Since I was a little kid I have been missing some sort of filter that prevents me from censoring myself, as so many people do in the name of politeness. People claim that this is merely a lack of manners however I choose to look at it as one of the best things about me because people are able to hear the truth from me, difficult or not to accept.

Before starting this project I had little to no experience or instruction in using oil paints, and did not have a lot of time to experiment with the medium before jumping into the self portrait. It was difficult to figure out what aspect of myself I wanted to show in this portrait and then how to express that aspect. I did like these paints, I love the consistency and how much thicker and smoother the oil paints are than the acrylic paints. I almost wish I had chosen a smaller canvas so that I had more time to focus on detail and know I need to make the hairline lower and lips darker. I will be making these edits as soon as the critique is finished. I have already fixed the lips.

From left to right: nearly finished product, project at the beginning, and reference photo.

Hands and Feet

I used oil pastels to tell the story of someone reading under their blankets. I chose this because it is a little open ended. Who are they? What are they reading? Why are they under the covers? Personally, I like to see a young child who is up past their bedtime who is so absorbed in the story that they are staying up against their parents' wishes. This is often what I did when I was a child, my mom tells me that I always had a book in my hand. The book I used in this picture is a book I have had since I was five or six, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

I faced some challenges using the oil pastels because it is very hard to be detailed with them, and my sheet had a very delicate flower pattern on it. At first I attempted the flowers, but when that proved impossible I attempted to make them polka dots. I then just decided to leave out the pattern all together. I now understand why we had to use the large paper: had it been any smaller I would have had to leave out many more details, such as the words on the pages, which were already reduced to just lines. Also, the material got everywhere: all over the paper in places I did want it to be, on my face, hands, and clothes. This was very frustrating. Overall I did not like the oil pastels but I do like how my piece is looking.

Early progress
Reference Photo used
Created By
Mary Woolley


Created with images by effwun - "Stormcloud"

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