Friday, June 29, 2012

The pitfalls of inviting me to your wedding

With summer now here and it being wedding season, I'm keeping with my resolution of this year to live a life more creative and give handmade.

Now, giving handmade for a wedding present can be a dicey thing. Gift giving can be really hard and wedding registries exist specifically for informing all invited guests of what might be most appropriate or most welcome by the newlyweds. With regard to this, a handmade gift might be graciously received but it might also not be as fully appreciated as something else. What it comes down to is it depends on the type of handmade gift that is given.

While I could do any number of handmade works, I have been taking the painting class and I am feeling confident that I can paint something reasonably acceptable for the caliber of a gift that would be for a wedding. The bride and groom are both history buffs and appreciate the value of our nation's capitol so it seems most appropriate to do something grounded in that. I got an awesome panel (essentially it's cradle board) in a really nice size that will hang without a frame just beautifully on any focal wall of their home together. I have already done some commissioned artwork for the couple so I know they appreciate my brushwork enough and I pray that I can make the piece I am working on (as seen above) special and timeless enough for it to be well received to recognize their marriage together.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 15 & 16 of 20

Don't have very much to show of yesterday other than how I finished...

Yes. It's very dark and (in all honesty) I took a LOT of artistic license because the tree looked pretty much nothing like that. The goal was to focus on the larger forms of the tree though and also learn how to use the tool that is omission when making decisions during the creative process when painting. As far as that goes, I did both of those items and so I feel like this is a successful painting. I definitely took an abstract approach - and that is something I have REALLY been trying to avoid as much as possible but I'm learning to accept that that approach isn't just OK but it's also necessary sometimes.

The funny thing about this one is that while I feel like it might be my most successful piece from this week, nobody else in my class liked it other than the professor and the two advanced painting students. The other beginning painters (like me) kept offering suggestions that maybe if I painted the leaves more individually or striped in grass then it would be "better." Kind of amusing to me that despite the fact that I said what my goals were, they still insisted I make it look more like what someone thinks a tree looks like versus what it might really look like. So, there's that. Oh well.

And then today this is what I did...

I moved spots and fell in love with this particular place that allowed for me to use more than just greens, yellows, and browns. I happened to have a whole bunch of small canvases in my studio and so I grabbed a bunch because my professor suggested it would help me with my one personal goal to stop painting everything larger so much that it doesn't fit on the canvas. I am so delighted to report that working this smaller size has been so helpful for me to think more carefully about proportions and scale. I would say the canvas is probably about a 5x7. (I don't remember and don't feel like going to measure it. Sorry.)

Because my canvases are/were so small, I was able to knock out not just one but TWO pieces today and for my next one I simply swiveled counterclockwise where there was a great view of a blue shed against some trees and houses.

For this one I used an even smaller canvas. I think it might have been 3x5 but (again) I don't know and don't feel like measuring it to give you exact info. It worked up really fast because of how small it was and gave me a huge boost of confidence that maybe I can paint enough to hold my own. I tried to take a picture of the canvas by itself but it's actually so small that my camera phone wouldn't let me so here is a shot of it with my other finished piece from today.

Next week there are only two days left for painting and while we were going to be assigned to do self-portraits, the professor has changed his mind and decided to allow us those days to continue doing landscapes. I'll be honest, I have never been a fan of landscapes or doing any kind of art en plein air but I am getting it now and I am absolutely loving it.  That being said, I am thrilled to have two more days to do some more tiny paintings that can eventually all be hung together somewhere in my house. I have some larger canvases that I could definitely dig into but I don't know. I'm loving the small canvases so much that I think I might just stick with them for the remainder of the class.

Our last class (next Thursday) will be spent doing a little bit of critiquing amongst ourselves that also will require each of us to present all of our work and explain it - basically, we are expected to make artist statements.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life as an art student | Days 13 & 14 of 20

I could have posted yesterday but I didn't because I was feeling pretty lackluster about what I did. It was the first day of landscape paintings en plein air and I actually did tree studies in pencil rather than in paint. I guess I did OK (for the most part) but I started the day on the note of, "I feel like I've lost my mojo..." and I pretty much finished like that. While I tried to focus all I could think about was how I would rather be at home cleaning up the mess that is my house or how much the dog needed shampooed. *shrug* Well, here is what I did with a nod to the linear progression of the day's work.

So, yeah. I finished the day on an unfinished tree study. The professor insisted that the last one would be the stronger study to focus on and further develop into a painting on day 14 but I kind of rebuffed his suggestions and stubbornly insisted on doing just the one tree.

Today was day 14 and I did my best to do something different even though I was working at the same spot as yesterday. I ate breakfast (didn't do that yesterday) and I even took some quiet time before I got started to read scripture and just take in and connect with the space I was in. I felt tremendously better once I got started and even found myself humming some of my favorite hymns while I worked. Here are some snaps of the progression I made today and where I finished. 

Perhaps it is sacrilege but I scraped my canvas clean and rubbed it down with turpenoid to finish my day. Yes -  I did make some decent progress today but mostly? It was me just riding the learning curve and not me working to make any kind of masterpiece. Scrapping down my canvas is so liberating and it only fills me with confidence and enthusiasm to get to work tomorrow. The stained canvas is a good reminder (to me) that I'm not starting from a completely blank slate and it almost reminds me of a well-seasoned cast iron pan (or sorts).

Tomorrow I'm continuing with the tree study and I am thinking I am going to stick with the tree that I have been working on. I feel like the longer I look at it, study it, and paint it - the better I will know it's forms, values, and colors. I would much better do one really well done piece than a couple that are nothing other than "done."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life as an art student | Days 11 & 12 of 20

The last few days have held my lowest lows and highest highs of my art studies so far.

Yesterday we had a discussion in class but I can't even remember about what. Why? Probably because it was such a bad day at the easel for me and I have blocked it from my memory.

While that sounds like a gross and dramatic exaggeration, it isn't. I ended up scraping my canvas at least half a dozen times in order to start over. I was using MASSIVE amounts of paint and pretty much just making a mess. My work was getting overly impressionistic (in relation to what I was actually going for which was more realistic) and despite the professor's best efforts to help support, encourage, and steer me, I wasn't making any reasonable gains.

In the midst of my painting, my professor actually stopped me and took me and my very wet canvas into the art gallery to see it in better light in an effort to help me to look at it in a different way. (Below is one of the versions I painted but scrapped)

He started trying to discuss what I had done so far and I just sat there not budging with my own perspective/opinion that I am largely failing with my efforts. I explained to him that I wasn't taking this class in order to do the same kind of painting I have always done - that is very impasto and impressionistic and mostly yielding things that could be considered "interesting" but is pretty much abstract in quality. He was very receptive to my ranting and proposed aspirations to learn to paint more realistically, proportionally, and accurate to what I am actually seeing versus what I see in my own mind when I look at something. 

At the end of class I scrapped my canvas once again and then three orange lines over my dirty canvas. Why? Because who cares? That was seriously my thinking. 


As we were all packing up to leave for the day the professor reminded us all of the homework assignment that he had given two nights ago that was due today in class. I inwardly groaned about it because it is my least favorite type of assignment that I've done over and over again in previous art courses. What was it? Doing a master copy of a line drawing but doing it when it's oriented upside down. 

Now, while I fully acknowledge that doing master copies from upside down subject matter is very instrumental with learning how to see and then draw more accurately, I hate doing it just the same. Pretty much I strongly dislike drawing across the board. Why? Because it's too flat for me. I mean, I know that it's a very important skill to possess in art but I just don't like it much. That being said, last night I begrudgingly did the assignment. I spent not even close to an hour at the very last minute right before I went to bed. Here is what I did in the right side up orientation. The original is on the left and my master copy version is on the right.

 I did OK, I think. Major issues include the fact that a enlarged it so much I couldn't fit a quarter of the drawing on my paper. (I have this issue with always enlarging things *shrug* and apparently it's the opposite problem than what most people have since typically they draw things smaller. I'm backwards. Go figure.) Anyway, I was satisfied enough that I went to bed and turned it in this morning at the start of class. We had more discussions about what the exercises was intended to help us accomplish and I did acknowledge that it did help me feel a little more confident that I could (to a certain degree) recreate what I do see and that I therefore do have a connection between my head and my hand so I wasn't a total loss.

When we got into the studio the professor did about a 30 minute demo to show another approach/technique to lay out and block a painting. When I was watching him it was like a light bulb went on in my mind with the realization of what I SHOULD be doing. He suggested a way where you lay out the forms and lines of the painting from the top down to the bottom and then from the background to the foreground. Kind of hard to explain but it made complete sense and was totally counter-intuitive to what I have (always) been doing. 

When we wrapped up with the demo I was completely motivated to try out his suggestions. I tried to scrap my canvas down but ended up slicing a hole in it. Luckily I had another spare one - that was dirty but still - handy and I used that instead. I did my best to wipe it down with turpenoid to get rid of what had been on there and ended up with having it lightly washed in colors from my previous painting. Despite the fact that it would have been more desirable to have a clean canvas I was actually OK with this.

When I finally got started using the method the professor suggested in his demo, I found (for lack of better word) my "mojo" in a way I never have even had when painting. It was AMAZING!!! Here is what I was able to lay out with the professor's suggested strategies.

When he stopped by my easel to check on me he was obviously delighted with my progress and even took it off my easel to show the rest of the class. I kind of didn't care about that and just wanted him to give it back to me so I could keep going with things. He gave me the go ahead to start laying in the color and while I was intimidated with the idea of it, I went with it and tried not to be too critical of myself and the mistakes I expected to make. The first image is when I first started laying the color into the forms and the second is where I had to stop for the day and call it finished.

I wish I had more time to work on it and develop further but I feel like I made so much progress today that I don't even care of the painting looks underdeveloped or not done. I am not touching it anymore because 1) I am just fine with it being in this state and 2) this was the last day with the model and the professor has pushed us to adhere to the rule to NOT paint anything unless the model is actually in front of us.

Next week we are doing landscape painting en plein air. I have never been a fan of landscape painting or doing work en plein air but after this week with doing this type of painting/work - also a kind of painting that I wasn't keen on getting into but now I feel like I have conquered (relatively speaking), I am very excited for what we are doing next week.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 10 of 20

Today was our second day working with the model. We did a short discussion to kick things off and discussed both the work of Degas as well as the art form that is portraiture and I am finally feeling like I am getting the hang of the skill that is "reading" a painting. I'm sure I am going to have plenty more opportunity to practice and sharpen this (with all of the class discussions that are still yet to be had) but I am already pretty excited to share this with my students when school is back in session.

Rather than returning to the mess that was my canvas from yesterday, I brought in a fresh one for today. I have a huge inventory of Blick brand academic-grade 16x20s from my painting party biz so I just grabbed one of those before heading to class this morning.

Other things I did to help shape up today to be better included the following: had a good solid helping of a caffeinated beverage before I started painting, snacked heavy on proteins throughout my painting time, and took some tylenol because I've been dealing with feeling icky and I feel like that has hugely affected my performance (or lack thereof) this week. I didn't want to waste another day in the studio so I really made a point to do something different today in order to yield something different and I am happy to say that (for the most part) it worked out...


Midway break after the second 20-minute chunk of time with the model

Everything was going pretty well (as much as could be) and then I started running out of liquin. While I'm sure it's possible to paint without liquin, I am just beginning with this whole business of painting with oils (as in, I have less than two days in the studio with it) so improvising at this stage is just not so easily done. As it happened though, I still had at least an hour and a half left of studio time and so I ran to the bookstore to see if they had any. (They didn't.) So... I just made do, worked as much as I could as the paint stiffened against my brush and ended up ending on a completely "impressionistic" note.

Eh... I am OK with it. I mean, I don't hate it. I also don't love it or like it so much either. Why? Because it's pretty much the same thing that I have always done with acrylics. Perhaps this is just my style? (That being impressionistic) I don't know. I just know that I want to do something different and new and I want to refine the skillset (I have already) that I honestly feel like needs some serious polish. That's what I'm taking this class for in the first place! I'm trying to be better - DO better!!

Well, tomorrow IS another day and because I (again) am not trying to lose any more time in the studio with the model (we only have the last two days of this week with her) - I hauled myself to Utrecht downtown because I knew they were the only ones (locally) that would sell the largest bottle of Liquin my budget can afford currently. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 9 of 20

Today's class was an all-time low for me. *Pfffffffffffffffffffttttttttt* Pardon me and the pity party that I am having for myself. Want to see the best shot I took today at my easel with my phone? Here it is:

Oh look! It's a heavily filtered instagram of my paints! What does this show of the work I actually did? Answer: NOTHING.

Seriously though. I pretty much hated everything I did at the easel today. Was I in a sour mood to start off with? Possibly. I don't know though. I mean, I actually was sincerely excited to get started because we are working with a live model doing figural work this whole week and I have never done that before! That doesn't change the fact that last night I actually had (what is consider to be to me) a "bad" dream where I was in class and the model showed up and she was what I imagined was the worst model ever. She wouldn't stay still and she kept talking and distracting everyone. She was also covered in body art so it was really hard to actually see the natural contours and lines of her musculature. Etc. etc. etc.

(Note: I am not against body art but I can imagine too much of it could obscure what a person's body really does look like for the purposes of figural studies in painting and drawing and I believe it is for this reason that I came up with such a "bad" dream as this for myself.)

So, we started class with a discussion about what the expectations were for this week's work and though I definitely was intimidated by what we are setting out for, I was really REALLY willing to go for the gusto with things. Then we got into the studio classroom. I set up my easel and was seemingly OK so far.

The professor complimented me on my aggressive and bold strokes and thick application of color in order to view the parts of the model's body as planes versus as a whole body. I was feeling motivated for the most part and confident as much as I could.

Then he stopped all of us and had us do charcoal studies using only lines in order to help inform our brush strokes and better understand the contours of the body as planes (in relation to one another) versus us just painting what we were thinking in our minds that we wanted to paint.

The above is a view of what I did after five tries. FIVE TRIES!!!! Ridiculous. I thought I disliked drawing before but I can pretty much say I totally loathe it at this point. *shrug* I just don't enjoy it at all. I don't even know any other way to put it than that. I like painting and sculpting but I pretty much hate just straight drawing. It's boring to me. *shrug* Probably has something to do with the fact that I am pretty naturally bad at it. (BTW - I did actually develop the above further but as soon as my professor gave me the go-ahead I hopped back over to the painting.

Well, perhaps I should have spent more time on the line drawing because when I stopped painting today this is what I had in front of me:

Is that a mess? Perhaps it's underpainting? I feel like it's probably much more the former than the latter but let's just pretend it's the latter because then I won't feel that much more compelled to rush into class tomorrow, rip it off my easel, and rip it into tiny pieces so I don't have to look at it any more. I think the major issue is that I started getting really annoyed and slopping and ended up with both solvent and liquin all over my canvas.

Oh well. Live and learn. And practice makes perfect, right? My professor said he does not want us to be afraid to start over and, rather, he wants us to be open to that option and consider it to be an essential part of the creative process itself. Well you know what? I'm pretty OK with that. Give me a clean canvas tomorrow and I will be a happy painting student thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 8 of 20

Started class with discussion on the topic of the creative process. We looked at the work of Frank Auerbach and really examined the role and the personal goal of the visual artist. The professor really pushed us to start investing in saying and showing something with all of our artwork other than just correct technique. I so appreciate the encouragement that he gave us to not just paint/create art in order to just paint and create artwork. I feel like too often art educators get caught up in teaching only the skill and not also attending to students developing their own unique (and divinely appointed) artistic voices. I feel so blessed to be able to work with this professor and I know that I am going to learn and grow tremendously from this class - too bad I'm already 40% if the way through it! :(

Studio goals for the day were numerous for me:
  • Complete another still life of a warm toned vegetable in warm/cool gray scale study
  • Correctly set up an oil paint palette
  • Apply colors in correct values in oil paint on top of the gray scale study 

Here was my easel set up for the second gray scale study for today - my first one (from yesterday) was a green pepper so I did an orange pepper this go-round. 

Here is a closer look at my brushwork and value work for my finished piece. I'm delighted to say that I really had the hang of things today (after yesterday's ridiculous jumping of the gun multiple times) and I whipped this out within the first hour of studio time...

Part way through the class the professor stopped us all and showed us the correct way to set up our oils and also how to mix colors so they matched what we were painting. I have been VERY excited and apprehensive about working with both oils (I never have before) and also color (I have done this before but not oils in color). I was relieved when my professor showed us some strategies to mix and match colors to what we were trying to paint. Here is my palette set up before I got into the oils...

And here is what my palette looked like after I used it for three rounds...

All that mess and color is PURE HAPPINESS in my book!!

Here is a shot of my easel with my orange pepper and where I stopped today. I stayed after class for another hour and a half and hardly realized the time. It is so easy to get lost when I paint. What a blessing it is to have this time reserved to do just this for half the summer.

And here is a little bit closer look at the fruits (or rather vegetable - HA!) of my labor today. I am planning on warming up the background so it more correctly adheres to the creamy neutral foreground and background that actually is in the set up. Honestly though? I am really satisfied with the progress I made today. I think it helped my apprehension and anxieties to be able to do the color work without anyone else in the classroom. The professor stopped by part way through my progress and he was very supportive and encouraging with the risks that I was taking by using a more open palette than what the actual set up might otherwise call for. What can I say? I like using all of the colors of the rainbow if I can get away with it.

I'm really looking forward to class next week because we will be working with a professional model for all four days of class!!! As I have been told, getting a model in to work from for such a huge amount of time is not often heard of - so the professor says! I trust his judgment completely and am really excited about what I might turn out next week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 7 of 20

Today was the first day for doing a warm/cool value study painting from a still life instead doing a 2D master copy. We started the day (per usual) with a discussion and looked specifically at the Jerusalem Studio School.  We watched a few videos and interviews and really examined the creative process behind creating works from figurative subject matter vs. representational subject matter. I took notes in my visual journal and wrote down both quotes from the videos as well as things my professor points out. I have been taking notes like this for most of the class but have completely forgotten about sharing the pages with you so I'm going to go ahead and do that now.

Here is what I wrote down today...

And here are my pages from last week and then earlier this week (when we watched the video interview with Sister Wendy Beckett)...

When we got into the studio, my focus was primarily on trying to paint a green pepper (given to me by the professor) in warm and cool values. I jumped right in and was happily slapping thick paint all over my paper when the professor stopped me and tried to redirect my strokes. I attempted to steer myself in the way he wanted me to go. He stopped me again and attempted to redirect my strokes again. I went back to work. *Wash, rinse, repeat* about three more times and I was NOT getting it. Below is where I started...

Now that I am beyond that moment, I can better articulate what I was doing wrong:
  • I was using WAY too much paint to the detriment of the brushwork and direction of the strokes. 
  • I was thinking way too much about the overall image rather than the smaller sections of value and shapes (created by the value)
  • I was using strokes that were much to wide, long, etc. vs. shorter/more meaningful/intentional marks (as in Van Gogh's work and the way you can see each individual mark, shape made collectively by the marks themselves)
  • I was not changing direction with my brushwork enough to show the planar differences and thus more obvious three-dimensions.
Nearly everyone was being challenged and was (perhaps) frustrated so the professor set up his own easel and then did a great job showing us exactly what we should be doing. I had already sort of figured out what he meant because he gave me some books to look at and when I finally saw him lay down half a dozen strokes on his own canvas, I was full confident and I went ahead and painted alongside him - laying down my own strokes and then checking my workflow against his. I'm happy to report that I was REALLY able to improve my work to the point that when he stopped by my easel to check my progress, his first reaction was, "WOW" followed by more constructive feedback that included affirmations that I definitely was doing things better and right this time. Here is my easel set-up and place where I stopped at the end of today.

And here is a closer (though poor because I took this with my camera phone) view of what will likely be my completely finished piece.

Tomorrow I will be working on another warm/cool value study of a yellow pepper (the professor wants us to do a cool vegetable and a warm one) and we will also be glazing (with oil paint) the work that we do in order to start using color correctly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Life as an art student | Days 5 & 6 of 20

Started class yesterday and today in the usual way - spending time looking at the works of those more experienced (and accomplished) then all of us students and then discussing things.

Yesterday we actually watched a video as well and it was so good (I thought) that I copied down all of the information about it to try and convince my department head to get a copy of it so it could shared with all of the art students at my school (visual, performing, vocal, instrumental). It was an interview with Sister Wendy Beckett (Part one is here but it's only five minutes of almost an hour).

This morning we looked at some Vermeer and talked about the importance of not just taking but wisely using "artistic license." I'm REALLY learning a lot and I definitely feel like this whole experience is going to strengthen not only me as a visual artist but also me as a visual art teacher. I have so many things that I want to share with my students already.

I started this piece yesterday and this is what it looked like at the start of my painting today. The original (photocopy given to me by my professor) is on the right and my version is on the left. I have been REALLY challenged by this exercise because I've kind of felt uncomfortable working from two dimensional subject matter vs. a still life. I've stuck with it just the same and yesterday (at the end of class) my professor insisted that I was pretty close to done (it was just as pictured below) and I would probably need to just "clean up the edges" today.

Today I worked on it and was able to call it done after maybe an hour and a half of working on it. I felt better about it but mostly I was feeling worn down and ready to look at something/work on something new.

My professor insisted that it was good and gave me the go ahead to go to the next exercise - still a value study from a 2D work that had been photocopied as grayscale. This time I was able to tint the grays with warms and cools (reds and blues) and that was a little more fun for me but mostly? I was frustrated and I finally figured out that 1) my eyes were worn out from looking only at value in grayscale and 2) I needed to stop holding myself back from using my hand as a palette (what I normally do) and just let go a little.

Amazingly, once I did that, I felt so much more confident and worked without realizing how close to the end of class I was - only realizing the time when everyone else around me started cleaning up. I don't think I'm done but my professor gave me some solid feedback along with some very strong assertions that I wasn't just doing fine or good but I was doing very well per his standards. He said I have very strong technique that will translate well when we finally get to oils tomorrow and that I also am really showing a good strong artistic voice while also capturing the essence of what I'm painting. Funny because when I looked at it I couldn't stop saying to myself, "Your proportions and scale are off. This is not good."

The below will get a little more work tomorrow and then I will move on to my next piece will utilized grisalle work (I'm so excited about it!!!) with more tinted value study work (of a single piece of fruit - still life finally!) followed by color glazing in oil.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Catch you on the flipside

We actually painted today in class but I absolutely forgot to take pictures because I got all into this discussion with the almost octogenarian German lady who paints at the easel closes to me.

Unrelated: I've decided she is my favorite after witnessing her eat a butter and cheese sandwich that she accidentally left in the studio classroom last week (on Thursday) and happily discovered today when we all got to class. It had been there uncovered and without refrigeration since Thursday. (Let me just give you a moment to get that last part.) She seriously was like a little kid when she found that sandwich and announced her "good fortune" to everyone who would listen and then wasted no time scarfing it down while the entire class looked on in both awe, horror, and disgust. When she was done she shrugged and said in a very delicate and ladylike German accent, "I was hungry. And that was very expensive cheese! I only get the good time."

Once I witnessed her eat that sandwich, I couldn't even help myself and became her #1 fan and struck up a conversation that lasted for almost the entire class and until we were the last two people (long after class was dismissed) just chatting up the coolness that is her whole entire life.

Anyway, all of this to say I was kind of totally unfocused on painting and forgot about taking my daily picture of my easel. I'll catch up tomorrow and try not to be distracted by new best friend.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 4 of 20

Started class today with a discussion examining the works of Giorgio Morandi and Paul Cezanne. I am finally understanding (and embracing) the importance and beauty of still life fine art pieces.  This makes me that much more motivated to spend time doing still life studies and I find myself brainstorming what types of objects or unifying themes I would focus on for my set-ups.

I know that the more time I spend painting and thinking in visual ways, the stronger I will be as a visual artist in a multitude of ways. I hardly ever paint at home and I am thinking I would like to try more of this especially this summer. I am going to try and get my 4 yo daughter involved because why not? My professor said when his daughter was in her early elementary years, she was exposed to plenty of art and she actually set her stuffed animals up to imitate the Last Supper. Perhaps I am a big nerd but that absolutely delights me and encourages me to be more bold in the art I share with my little girl.

Our studio time today was a continued study in torn paper collage but today we were directed to not just look at the negative space/background and to focus more on the foreground and proportions and scale of the objects themselves. Somehow my easel set-up ended up getting shifted from yesterday to today so I ended up unknowingly dealing with that and thinking I was crazy because my perspective was all of a sudden off and I couldn't explain it.

The professor was wonderfully supportive and helpful and encouraged me to note the challenge presented but not be overly concerned and just deal with the issue by making decisions based on the fact that I know/understand how to show proper perspective, scaling, and appropriate proportions without relying on the set-up itself. I did most of the hard work yesterday with the negative space and that was enough for me to fill in the foreground correctly enough.

Today after class I finally took a trip into DC to visit my local Utrecht location and I finally purchased the rest of my supplies - brand new PREMIUM-type brushes (read: expensive!) and Gamblin brand oil paints. I was going to order from Dick Blick and because I'm in the midst of "creative budgeting" while I deal with the cash flow issue of waiting for my student loans to be applied to my account, I had to wait until literally today to be able to get my supplies because I have had no money to do it. Such is life but God is so good(!) because not only was I able to take advantage of the amazing sale Utrecht is currently having but I was also able to use a 15% off coupon for one part of my oil and then my teacher discount for the rest (turpenoid, some oil painting medium, a new spatula and razor knife for my palette) - the sales associate who helped me was AMAZING to be able to help me figure this out and truly maximize the money I spent.

Old brush set on the left side, new brush set on the right

I don't have class tomorrow (it's every day of the week for four hours except Fridays) and while (earlier this week) I was excited about that since it gives me some much needed time to both spend with my little girl and prepare for her big birthday party this weekend, I'm bummed that I have to wait until next week to try out all of my new supplies! Oh well... good things come to those who wait (me included).

Have a great weekend everyone! See you next Monday after class!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life as an art student | Day 3 of 20

Since I am a full-time graduate student and I also do everything else full-time (wife, mother, high school teacher), the ideal time for me to get course work squared away is in the summer months when I don't have the demands of the regular school year. My degree track is steering me to earn a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a subject area endorsement in visual arts. Because I am a career changer, I don't have nearly enough visual art/fine art credit hours for my subject area endorsement (most other people probably do) and so I am relegated to having to take specific studio art credit hours that an undergraduate art student looking to go into art education might have already taken already.

It's a LOT of work to be a career changer. Just the same? It's worth it to me and I am hardly bothered with the prospect of being in a Painting I 3-credit hour class. I will readily admit that I am awful at painting but that I desperately want to change that! And for that reason, I am totally jazzed about taking this intensive summer session of painting.

It's the third day of class and we still haven't painted yet.  We started discussion about what it means to think visually and then we watched this really neat TED talk via streamed video about Beau Lotto's work with color and light and what we see when those things interact. I plan on sharing this with my students when the school year rolls around because it really was informative, interesting, and definitely entertaining at times.

We did at least spend  some time at our easels working but not with paint. We did a negative space study that utilized torn paper to create the forms and show the organization of space (and imitate how we would lay paint down on our canvases) and while I know that there were a lot of other students who were frustrated with how challenging this was and also because we are still not yet painting, I really REALLY enjoyed this activity. It's even one that I feel like could be really useful for the students to try out in 2D. I rarely (OK, I never) use still life set ups and I am quickly becoming convinced that I should.

My view and finished work from today!

Yesterday we stretched and gesso-ed our own canvases - something I LOVED and if I instructed the painting classes at my school? I would TOTALLY push my students to do at least once or twice a semester. (So maybe it's good I am not teaching painting because my students might strongly dislike me for that). The first day of class we went over the syllabus and also had an open discussion about paintings (abstract included) and what 'we' as viewers glean from what we see.

I am really enjoying this class so far. If nothing else, it blocks a wonderfully long chunk of time on each day (except Friday) for me to fully devote myself to being a visual artist and strengthening my own technique - this is very MUCH needed! Still, this is much more than just that. I am definitely learning a lot, being challenged, and finding inspiration with what/how I go about my own journey as a visual artist.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hot off the presses

Just wanted to share the Illustrated Recipe book created from this lesson idea with you. It arrived in the mail last week on my last day of school/work! Unfortunate since I really wanted to be able to show it to the kids. :-/ Oh well.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Goodbye and hello (and see ya later)

I hardly every do videos because I pretty much hate to be in front of any type of camera AND I always forget that my macbook has such a great on-board video program/webcam.

Here is some footage I took Thursday at the tail end of the day in the midst of cleaning out/up, and "closing up shop" in the studio art classroom. The end of the year is just so bittersweet...

I've got one more posting (with a video - no less!) slated for tomorrow but after that? Who knows? I want to share some at-home crafting/give handmade type things over the summer as well as documenting what I am learning from the nine credit hours I will be taking for graduate learning but we'll see how it goes.
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