Art Feature: A Study in Gestures

Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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A Study in Gestures
by Chrystal Berche

Chrystal Berche dabbles, lots, and somewhere in those dabbles blossoms ideas that take shape into images. Many of her current pieces of artwork start out as three minute gesture drawings and eventually get paired with some sort of still life photography and a lot of playing in photoshop. She loves to take pictures, especially out in the woods, where she can sit on a rock or a log and wait quietly, jotting notes for stories until something happens by. A free spirit, Chrystal digs in dirt, dances in rain and chases storms, all at the whims of her muses.

What drew you to the use of gestures as a theme? What inspired this particular work?

The gestures were originally done as part of a life drawing class, and for about a year, they sat in my art desk. Each time I opened the desk they’d be sitting there, mocking me a little because I really didn’t have a plan for them. I’d scanned a few into the computer and fiddled around with them, but nothing really stuck. Then one afternoon my children and I were doing an activity we’d found in a photography magazinedropping food coloring into water and taking pictures of the swirls. We had a glass punch bowl out and it was really capturing the light as well as the colors, and I started thinking about the gestures in the desk and wondering how they would look layered onto the photographs of the color swirls that we’d taken. So I put them together along with photos of water being poured and splashed and the gesture study collection was the outcome.

This is one of a series. How does this piece factor into the collection? How does working on a series or collection affect how you approach your work?

This piece is a wonderful example of the collection as a whole. With the gestures themselves I’d tried to convey emotion with as little detail as possible, and I felt like pairing this particular drawing with the blue and red tones gave it a desperate air and created a scene that was maybe one part anger, one part fear, and one part despair. The colored backgrounds chosen for each of the gestures were specifically created with a particular mood in mind. I think where the gestures lack in details, the colors and the flow of the water make up the difference in terms of creating motion and mood.

I never really start out intending to make a collection, though this is the second one that I have completed. I don’t really come to view them as a collection until they are completed, since there are so many opportunities to deviate from the initial steps and go in a completely different direction. The only thing that I knew for sure when I started was that I did not want the Gestures to resemble the dancers, so I tried to avoid using the same techniques. I think that in looking at the two finished collections side by side, they each have their own distinct personalities.

How would you describe your creative process? You used a hybrid of line drawing and photography in this work — how do these two media complement each other?

I started playing with line drawings and photographs roughly seven years ago when I got my first digital camera and I fell in love with the results. What I was able to create inspired me to go back to school and seek some training with software as well as with refining my drawing. Most times I invert the line drawing, and layer it on top of a photo background and work from there, sometimes the end result is unfavorable, so I end up starting over again. That is one of the nice things about working with digital mediastarting over is very easy to do.

I take a lot of pictures. Sometimes when I am out in the field with the camera I see something and immediately think “I should pair that with this,” and so out comes the notebook and a note is made on the image number and the idea. Other times I’ll look at a drawing and wonder what it would look like paired with a certain type of image, so I’ll look through my stock photos and start layering. Most of the time a great deal of trial and error is involved and I often end up with several variations of an image with different backgrounds and colors.

Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you’d like to clue our readers into?

At the moment I am working on several projects, actually. I have a poetry chapbook that I am in the middle of designing titled “Neon Collision,” which will also include pieces of my artwork and digital photographs. I am also in the middle of writing a novel that I hope to have completed by the end of the year. Art-wise, I have started reworking some of my fantasy drawings as I was not happy with the original outcome. After receiving more training and having a lot more practice working with the medium there were glaring flaws that I noticed in the fantasy art that I’d created prior to beginning school, so now that I have finished with my classes, I decided that this would be the perfect time to revise them.

Have any specific artists or works impacted “A Study in Gestures?” What artists have been your primary influences in general?

I can’t say that any specific artist or piece of artwork impacted or inspired “A Study in Gestures.” Living in rural Iowa I am not really up to date on current trends in art or current artists. I am more inspired by emotion, poetry, music, and nature. The artist that inspired me the most has been Frank Fanzetta. I grew up with his posters on my wall, the fantasy art was a big part of what drew me to drawing in the first place. I would say that in my own work, I try to play with hues and tones to put emphasis on form in order to create mood, which is something I always admired in Franzetta’s work, and one day, I aspire to be able to include the level of detail that his work is famous for.

If you could introduce the world to one artist, who would it be?

He is a photographer, actually, by the name of Frank C. Grace, from Fall River, Mass which isn’t far from my hometown of New Bedford. I would encourage any who enjoy dark, surrealistic realism style photography to Google him and check out his work, as well as this article about him. Other pieces of his work can be found here.

What are you reading right now?

At the moment I am reading book five of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward, the book is titled Lover Unbound. It’s been a long time since I’ve read through the series and decided, when I got the latest book, The King, that rather than jumping right into it, I would go back and reread the whole series and approach The King with fresh eyes and a fresh memory of the events that had taken place leading up to it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

 I’d like to encourage those who read the magazine and look at the artwork inside to explore their own dreams and never give up no matter how many times someone else might tell them that they are wasting their time, or don’t have enough talent. Dreams exist for a reason, and I think we all owe it to ourselves to follow ours as far as we can for as long as we can.

Cisco Covino is a writer and graphic artist and aesthetic scientist.  He received his MFA in fiction from Fairfield University and currently teaches at Johnson & Wales University.  His work has appeared in such publications as Now What?, Cracked.com, and Old Time Family Baseball.  He can usually be found riding his bike through the sweet absurdity of Boston, MA.

**Cisco also serves as Spry‘s Graphic Designer. 


Linsey Jayne is a wave-headed poet with a penchant for jazz who received her MFA in creative writing at Fairfield University. Her writing has been published in such publications as The Standard-Times, The Dartmouth-Westport Chronicle, and exactly.what.  She has served as the chief poetry editor for Mason’s Road, as well as the student editor for the Bryant Literary Review and the opinion section editor of The Archway. Linsey is currently at work on her first collection of poetry, entitled Idle Jive.

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