Sunday, October 20, 2013

Principles of Design

Course Overview

All of the baking and pastry art students at the Culinary Institute of America are required to take a class called Principles of Design. It was a lot of fun! My class works well together, so that made this class that much better. We would show up early, listen to the professor's lecture of what we would be working on for that day, and then get to work on our projects. We were allowed to wear headphones and listen to music in class, which, to me, was awesome; I was off in my own little world during class. To get into my creative mindset, I usually listened to:

The Battlestar Galactica Soundtrack

Billy Idol



Fleetwood Mac

Pink Floyd

The late, great Warren Zevon

Radiant Image Project

The objective for this project was to create movement on a two-dimensional plane and illusion of three-dimensional space (depth), while using basic color theory.

Total Contrast Project

The objective for this project was to develop a composition that focuses on the push/pull aspect of contrast, using unit forms that full in the entire picture plane and create and uninterrupted pattern.

Block Print Project

The objective for the first part of this project was to develop a unit form that, when repeated in a simple grid pattern, creates a cohesive arrangement. The second objective was to produce designs that integrate color scheme or theme in a unified composition.

The prints are now hanging in my office,which puts a smile on my face every time I see them.

Logo Design Project

The first objective was to design an iconic image that represents a person (or persons), property (a place of business) or product (an object, preferably a food item). I didn't know what to do for a long time. But then it popped into my head that I should do this project for my niece, Hayleigh Rose.

 Pink (Hayleigh's favorite color)

 Green & Gold (The Culinary Institute of America's colors)


 I made a few additional cuts on my master stencil to add a bit more color to the flowers.

Sculpture Project 

The first object of this project was to design a theme-based three-dimensional object using the constructivist approach to sculpture. The next objective was to construct a small sculpture consisting of basic forms from plastic material, using a specified format and following an original, theme-based design. I used expressionism in creating my sculpture. 

Comparative Paper

This assignment required that I find "a single dessert item of exceptional artistic merit" and another non-food image. After I found the images, I was to discuss in a compare-and-contrast manner using design terminology - elements, principles, color terms, and other information that were presented in class lectures and during demonstrations.

Final Essay: The Comparative Paper

     Ice cream is, by far, my favorite dessert. And eating a banana split is my favorite way to enjoy the creamy, cold comfort food. So, it didn’t surprise me much that when I started looking at pictures of desserts to complete this project that I was drawn to find what my heart, and stomach, desire most. After searching extensively (as well as making and eating a few banana splits myself), I finally found a photograph worthy to be included in this report. 
 “Going Bananas!!!”
photo credit: Daniel Y. Go via photopin cc
As I looked through photographs of banana splits, I noticed that the majority of these shots had a banana split into two halves, lengthwise, which created perfect symmetry. This reminded me of the shape of a canoe. As a boy, growing up in Ohio with my grandparents, mother, sister, and brother, I would often walk out to the pond and canoe by myself, or with another member of my family. So, with my knowledge and experience of canoeing, I began to look for a photograph that I could compare and contrast with “Going Bananas!!!”. 
I graduated from Jacksonville State University in May of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science with a major in Geography and a minor in Anthropology. During my studies at JSU, I worked for the school and with Dr. Harry O. Holstein who is the Professor of Archaeology/Anthropology. I assisted students and staff in general field excavation procedures and conducted intensive field research on locating, mapping, and documenting Native American Sacred Stone Structure sites in Northeast Alabama. And Dr. Holstein always told me that Native Americans built the best canoes. My search for canoes quickly turned from shiny metal and fiberglass construction to old-fashioned, wooden Native American canoes. I found a photograph of Native Americans in a canoe that has both similarities and differences to “Going Bananas”. 
“Hmmm, PC?”
photo credit: Patrick Dockens via photopin cc
            The images used in this project have many things in common and many other things that are dissimilar. As stated earlier, the shape of the banana is very much like the shape of the canoe. Also, the glass dish is canoe-like in shape. The banana ends are not, however, left to their full length, and therefore do not curve upward into somewhat of a point. The same holds true for the serving dish. There is a definite sense of volume in both photographs. Where the Native Americans occupy the canoe, the ice cream, the toppings, and the banana are enclosed in the glass dish.
Gravity is quite noticeable in “Hmmm, PC?”, as the viewer can see Guinness holding a canoe with five Native Americans and six paddles. There is also direction in this photo; you can see that Guinness is walking from right to left and the canoers appear to be paddling from the front of the canoe (bow) to the rear (stern). As for the banana split, gravity is noticeable in that the sauce is dripping down the side of the banana and the glass dish is sitting (and not floating above) the plate on the table. There is no direction in “Going Bananas!!!”.
There is a stark contrast between the two images when meaning is called into question. The banana split photograph is meaningless, and “Hmmm, PC?” conveys a crystal clear message to the viewer; Guinness is strong. He is so strong that he’s able to carry, with one arm, a canoeful of Native Americans and their paddles, with a smile on his face. This, to me, evoked an intellectual response. I found myself asking, “Why is Guinness so strong?” Is it because he has so many more feathers in his headdress, compared to his fellow canoers? More questions came to mind. How did Guinness become so strong? Does the strongest man always have to carry the canoe? Is Guinness the strongest person in the group? Where is Guinness taking them? Why is Guinness carrying the canoe in the first place? I was not stirred up intellectually when looking at “Going Bananas!!!”.
Balance and symmetry are important in both images. Aside from the tweel right of the cherry being larger than the tweel to the left of the cherry, the banana split is perfectly balanced. One can assume that the three scoops of ice cream are of equal texture, size, and shape, that the other half of the banana is on the backside of the ice cream, and that there is probably some chocolate sauce dripping from the backside. This would create symmetry, both lengthwise and width-wise. If Guinness happened to be in the canoe, my being completely subjective, I’m almost positive that he would be paddling on the starboard side, and this would create symmetry, again both lengthwise and width-wise. But because he is carrying the canoe, we will never know for sure. Balance is crucial for Guinness. Counting from bow to stern, Guinness is directly beneath the third Native American. The canoe would certainly tip forward if he had positioned himself in the exact center of the canoe (in between Native Americans 3 and 4). His not being in the exact center also conveys that the Native Americans in the canoe do not have anything stored out-of-sight in the stern of the canoe, next to the extra paddle.
            The colors, or hues, are very important in both images. The primary colors (red, white, and blue) are used in “Hmmm, PC?”, but, not surprisingly, blue is not used in the “Going Bananas!!!”. The yellow banana and canoe are lively, cheery, and motivational. Both images have a little bit of red in them; the cherry on top of the whipped cream, and the triangle pattern along the edges of the canoe. The cherry definitely energizes and commands attention, but, to me, the triangle pattern is less effective in keeping my attention.
            A banana split, in my humble opinion, should contain the following ingredients: ice cream (1 scoop chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla, 1 scoop strawberry), banana (1, split lengthwise with tips trimmed down to form a 90 degree angle and maintain the same thickness throughout), pineapple (fresh, cut into equal-sized chunks), strawberry (fresh, quartered), cherry (minimum 1, with stem/stems), chocolate (warm sauce), and whipped cream. “Going Bananas!!!” has most of these ingredients, but because there are no strawberries or pineapples visible I am assuming that they are not present. Therefore, to improve this banana split, I would have to add these ingredients and redesign it. I like how the banana is cut to my above mentioned specifications, so that would remain the same. The chocolate sauce drizzle is sloppy, so I would make mine with a distinct pattern. I do like the tweels added to the “Going Bananas!!!” banana split. But with tweels being so easy to make in size, shape, and texture, I would not accept the different-sized tweels pictured. I like how the glass dish gives the customer full-view of the tasty dessert, but I believe the edges may need to be a bit higher to ensure nothing is slopped out over the side. And last, but certainly not least, the cherry needs to be placed perfectly in the center of the whipped cream. Great care must be given to ensure that it is not tipped in any one direction; it must be both perfectly plum and level.
The professor asked to speak to me in the hallway a few hours after I had turned in the assignment. He said, "Your paper is AWESOME!" I was thrilled! I told him that I could have written a lot more, as there was so much going on in the two images. And he said that he could tell that I had really "gotten into it." Also, he complimented me by saying that if he had to show a group of students a paper that they should model their own paper off of, that it would be mine. It truly made my day! I was awarded full credit for this project - 15/15 points. 

Dessert Menu

The objective for my final project was to create a Dessert Menu prototype, utilizing materials and techniques experienced in the class, following individually chosen theme by applying elements, principles, and color considerations learned in the course. 
Being careful not to plagiarize, I had used a variation of the Starfleet insignia in each of my design projects.
photo credit: epmiali via photopin cc

So, in keeping with my course-long theme, I created a Star Trek Dessert Menu prototype. 

Front cover with the Great Seal of the United Federation of Planets

I chose to represent four different Star Trek races in my menu: Vulcan, Borg, Klingon, and Human.

Vulcan - Live Long and Prosper Apple Pie A la Mode
Our pies are made daily with fresh apples transported directly from planet Vulcan. Ice cream is made with our in-house replicators, and there are over 2,000 flavors to choose from.

 Borg - Tricorder Pie
This Delta Quadrant classic is loaded with crushed Starfleet tricorders, finely chopped bio-neural gel pack casings, class-4 probe buckling, navigation sensors, and nacelle discharge sockets. Plasma oil drizzle is available with no additional charge.

Klingon - Blood Pie
The heart of a true warrior longs for this tasty treat! Each slice contains at least 4 different types of blood. This dish is perfect with an after-dinner glass of Klingon bloodwine. 

Human - Cellular Peptide Cake with Mint Frosting
Chocolate cake with the best mint frosting in Starfleet!

The Dessert Menu was made from construction paper, and it was held together with rubber cement. The professor told me that, when grading the menus, he looks for things that he would make differently. He said that he wouldn't change a thing in my menu. Again, I was awarded full credit for this project - 15/15 points. 

Final Grade

I enjoyed Principles of Design, and I learned a lot from the course. My final grade was an A. I am very proud of myself for working hard and turning in some good work. The professor told me that he has about 300 students each year, and of those, only about 10 earn an A. To me, it is not about a letter grade; its about what I have learned and how I can apply it in what I am doing. So, I'm anxious to take what I have learned in this course and apply it to my next two classes: Basic and Classical Cakes and Individual & Production Pastries.