Art Quote for the Day

WHEW!!!!!!!

I just finished another Winterim session at my place of employment, Edgewood College in Madison WI. This is a 2 week long period of time that students can take classes and get a full semester’s worth of credit. We meet EVERYDAY  for 3 hours and I had one class in the morning and one class in the afternoon.  Six hours of classtime,  2 hours of prep-time, I was out of the house everyday at 7 am and home by 4:30 pm……. with maybe 30 minutes to gulp down some kind of lunch.

I’M EXHAUSTED!

4 days off , and then, the real semester starts and back at it!

I LOVE IT !!!

The Winterim is proof of  how much can actually get done in a very short time if that time is concentrated and focused. It is proof of what students are capable of learning and doing in that same amount of quality time.

The morning class I taught was in Figure Drawing. Drawing the nude…. everyday a live model, everyday a new set of skills to be learned: proportion, measuring ,bone structure, musculature,modelling 3-dimensional form, gesture/motion, media,patience, focus, imagination. We ended today with a 2 hour long pencil drawing of 2 poses in one drawing that related to each other in some way. Students had to draw a sitting pose and a standing pose that would relate to each other , switching back and forth about every 5 minutes….. After only 9 days of intense instruction and LOTS of practice they all managed to complete a pretty accomplished drawing! Some of the students had never had a drawing course before so I’m pretty proud of them!

The afternoon class was called Art Structure and it is specifically for NON-ART majors. Again, everyday , a new set of skills and information: drawing, color theory, design, painting, abstraction, printmaking, sculpture….. total chaos everyday…. CREATIVE CHAOS! And , once again, the work completed was fantastic.

Some of the work is posted here Enjoy!….

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Art Quote of the Day

Does anyone else have this “issue” ?  I have the most beautiful studio…… we built an addition onto our house a few years ago.  Tall windows – 8 ft. with small panes that look out on my beautiful garden. Lots of room…. of course with great light. BUT…… with this EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER we’re having it’s VERY,VERY,VERY cold in there. The room is off the kitchen, heated only from the heat that fills the rest of our little house but the room has no heat source of its own. Needless to say , I’m not very motivated to go into that room and paint. It’s not that I’m not feeling creative ….. I’m restless with ideas and desire to get to work but , really, THE COLD!!!!  I have been able to work for a couple hours before getting sooooooooooo chilled that I had to stop but that was when the temperature was at least above freezing. With this EXTREME cold, -50 degrees wind chill  factor , well, I’m discouraged.

I will dress as if I were going outside …. a few layers , boots, maybe even a hat…. see how long I can stand it. I can bring some acrylics into my living room and work at the coffee table I suppose but I have big oil paintings in progress in the studio that I really want to work on.

I should have begun teaching classes today but cancelled because of the horrible cold…. so I have one extra day  of “vacation” to ‘enjoy’. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. what shall I do ? what shall I do?  Chant and meditate on the fact that

I HATE WINTER…… OHMMMMMMM……..

Thanks by the way  for everyone’s well – wishes about my lost sketchbook. UPDATE! It  hasn’t been found or turned in …. it’s just gone….. in the wind…. in someone else’s possession (, ENJOY! ),  in a landfill somewhere ( that’s what hurts the most) , and I’ve pretty much just resigned myself to it’s loss. Que sera – sera !

STAY WARM EVERYBODY !

Art Quote for the Day

And once again, the time has gone by SUPERFAST and I find myself at the end of another semester. Projects DONE, grading DONE,cleaning up the art room messes, almost done! A few weeks of a much welcome break where I can really focus on my own painting , and then back at it again!
I was thinking the other night,( while attending a senior seminar where students I had as Freshman and are now about to graduate, had to present their work to an audience and talk about it), that it’s a great thrill to watch these individuals come into our school as these young Freshmen, watch them make it through all their trials and tribulations and then  see and hear them be so articulate about their work at the  end of it all. Somewhere deep down inside I’m always hoping that maybe, in their talks, they’ll mention me…. that I made a difference and when they don’t I have always felt a little sad. BUT, after seeing this presentation the other night I realized there are no thanks needed. My job is to instruct them in the basic foundations courses that are required . In return they inspire me in so many ways , I ‘m never bored. My own personal mission is to create for them an atmosphere of creativity and fearlessness so that they can INDEED go on to create a fantastic portfolio of work . I’m a small part of a bigger picture that includes all of my fellow faculty members, all doing the hard work that it takes to get these young people ready for the real world. And I’m so very happy to be a part of it.

Now, with the holiday break starting, I will take off a few days to do stuff other than school stuff but I’m already sort of thinking about new assignments, projects, and visual examples. I’m looking forward to the first day of classes when I get to meet new students and re-connect with old….

I just Love this Life of Mine!!!!

Art Quote for the Day

Art can be taught, but nobody knows quite how. A typical piece of evidence here is the track record of art schools – the fact that famous artists have graduatd from them.  School catalogs typicallly list their graduates who went on to become famous.  Instructors praise the work of famous students as if they helped guide them to their success.  Still, there is very little evidence that art schools have control over the production of really interesting art.  It may be nothing more than chance.  If an art school is around long enough, there are likely to be famous people who studied there.  Sooner or later , a student will find an instructor, or a curriculum,or an environment that is just right, and that might then propel them to do work many people find interesting.  But do teachers have the slightest control over the interaction, or the vaguest idea of how it works?  How do we know that the art school was anything more than a neutral backdrop, a place that didn’t stop the artist from developing?  How do we know that another environment – say, a steel factory – might not have been better? The problem with this first theory is that is isn’t a theory.  It proposes a correlation without proving a cause – and-effect relation.  In that respect, it is like the many studies linking cancer to various foods; there might be a correlation between drinking coffee and getting cancer, but that does not prove there is a causal link.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins

Art Quote for the Day

Some contemporary art instructiors freely admit that art cannot be taught, and admitting it put them in a fundamental logical bind:  they say art cannot be taught and yet they go on teaching students who believe  they are learning art. I think most teachers would say that they don’t claim to teach art directly ; but on an institutional level, the schools and departments where they work continue to act as if art teaching might be taking place.  The two postitions – for and against the possibility of  teaching art – are incompatible.  Studio classes could be advertised as places where students learn techniques, or the vagaries of the art world, and that would be  consistent with ordinary teacher’s  claim not to know how to teach art directly.  Somewhere along the chain of command and publicity, from the ordinary studio art instructor up to the chairman, the dean , the public-relations department, and the trustees, the day-to-day skepticism about teaching art gets lost , and institutions typically end up making claims that their instructors really do teach art.

It seems to me that this indecision or unclarity or disinterest in exactly what we do is not at all a bad position to be in.  there is no need to teach without self-contradiction, or without letting students in on our indecision or incoherence.  The fact that it is so hard to know what it might mean to teach art tends to keep  teachers going; it spurs them to teach in many different ways. In that sense, teaching physics or television repair is much less engrossing, because there is no need to continually question the enterprise itself. So in that sense there is nothing wrong  with our inability to say exactly what we’re doing.  But it is also important not to forget that it is , after all , a logical contradiction, and that art instructors  work right at the center of the contradiction.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins

Art Quote for the Day

CAN ART BE TAUGHT?

There have long been doubts about whether art can be taught.  They go back at least to Plato’s concept of inspiration, mania, and Aristotle’s concepts of genius and poetic rapture ( the ecstaticos). If art is made with the help of mania, then certainly ordinary teaching can have little effect – and if  it is inspired teaching, then it isn’t teaching in the sense I mean it here, but something more like infection.  I may give someone the flu, but I am hardly ever sure when or how I did it.  Teaching mania by being ecstatic and inspirational is like being infected and spreading disease: you can’t really control it.  Plato and Aristotle are everyone’s historical heritage, to the extent that virtually all art instruction in the world today is influenced by Western norms, and I think most people would be happy to say that art depends somehow on mania and therefore can’t be taught.  Yet historically, the voices of doubt have been overwhelmed by the institutions that claim to teach art.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – James Elkins

Art Quote for the Day

Right now, at this very moment a dear friend of mine is sitting across the room on my couch with my husband. She is a retired teacher that  I worked with for several years when I was just starting out . We would have the best lunch time conversations about all sorts of things. She is brilliant and enlightened and intellectually stimulating . She is 74 and minimally understanding of all things that are computer oriented shall we say. She has purchased an IPad and now my husband is helping her with what she needs to know to use it.
As I sit here listening to them ….. She, asking questions, my husband explaining , I marvel at how far I’ve come in the past year! I didn’t have an IPAD a year ago, I didn’t have a blog  a year ago, I sure wouldn’t have thought that I would be teaching Honors students a class in how to use the IPAD to create art! I was where my friend is right now. She has a lot of stuff yet to learn and who knows what will attract her and get her going in an obsessive direction but I’m thinking it has to be alot like learning to read . Once the understanding happens, the world opens up in so many ways ….. you are instantly  connected to all of the information that the world has to offer. Have fun my dear friend …. have fun!

Art Quote for the Day

When I went to college and majored in Art I never thought that I would be a teacher. That would have meant talking in front of people and , oh my God, I could never have done that! When I went to Grad School in my late 30’s I never thought I would be able to be a Teaching Assistant….. again , I’d have to talk in front of people and Lordy Lordy , I could never do THAT! But, one thing led to another, I plucked up my courage, applied to be  a T.A., was accepted , and from the second I walked over the threshold of the classroom door on that very first day , nervous as hell, all of my life’s insecurities went out the window. I loved teaching from the very first minute I did it. And with that love came a memory from 5th grade that I tell my student’s all the time. And it is this…

In 5th. grade we had to draw the state bird, the state tree, the state flower, etc. etc. I was given the state tree. I , in 5th. grade already knew I wanted to be an artist, loved drawing, WELCOMED any kind of drawing that we could do…. I spent a good amount of time drawing that tree; shading the leaves, the bark, and when I was finished I presented it to my teacher and she said it wasn’t good enough and that I should do it again. I did. Still not good enough. On the verge of tears I sat down and remember so clearly , taking my finger and placing it  on the edge of that tree picture and trying to copy it EXACTLY as it was inch by inch… ( I was at a complete loss as to what the teacher wanted) and before I could get even half way around the teacher snatched my drawing away as she said , ” we don’t have time to wait for you to finish . I’ll let “so&so” do it. I remember feeling so confused, so sad, so completely crushed by the complete lack of understanding on the teacher’s part.

Another incident….. in High School I was priviledged enough to be able to attend “art camp” .Participating  students went to a University of WI campus in Wausau , we lived in dorms, we worked in our chosen media in studios for 8 hours a day, then attended lectures at night. It was a fantastic experience and I was able to do this for 3 years. One year I took a printmaking class. I took a silkscreen image that I had done that year in High School, had won a prize for it and , probably because I was sort of insecure about EVERYTHING, I went up to the instructor for that class ,showed him my silkscreen image and told him I had won  a prize for it . ( I was hoping for some praise I guess). He said,” So What?” Absolutely Crushing. What possible thrill could an adult -artist-teacher get out of embarrassing a young girl like that?

Soooooooooooooooooo…. when I started teaching I told myself that I would NEVER, EVER, crush the spirit of any student I ever have , like these two individuals did to me. I would never let any student be ‘afraid’ of doing art. I would never discourage them from trying new things, or being proud of what they have done. every art work is a new adventure…. a new media, a new concept, a new ‘failure’, but that’s how we learn. what is the point of making someone feel horrible?

Of course , I have structure, I teach foundations, I have critiques and point out areas where things can be improved upon. That’s my job as a college art instructor.But I won’t let students be afraid …. to try new things, to literally RUIN something in their attempts to try the new things, to not try because they already think they’re no good. It’s a waste of time and no advancements are made. So far, I think my ‘method’ has been working pretty well . By the end of any semester and any class I think the majority of the students have made some pretty damn good art. ( see my student artwork page for some great examples)

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Art Quote for the Day

So, in my efforts to explore something different….. change my technique, my style, explore other motifs and ideas, different colors, and different media, a question came to my mind.

OK….. I definitely have a kind of imagery that I feel bonded with …… for the last 16 years or so ….. I’m physiologically driven to draw and paint  imagery that contains bi-laterally balanced shapes, ( lotus, the onion domes of the Kremlin, that sort of thing). I have seen lots of other artists’ work out there that also use this sort of imagery. We , as artists, “take”, “use”, “derive”, “mimic” the work of others and , HOPEFULLY , make it our own.

I have found an artist , via the” PINTERESTS”, whose work I have fallen in love with. For many  reasons. #1 being the use , in some pieces of those same bi-laterally balanced shapes. The technique used is more free, more mixed media, simpler in some ways but more rich in surface. ANYWAY, I have been totally inspired…. and find myself trying to create imagery that reflects this artist’s work . Now, in the grand scheme of things, is this plagarism? I’m still using my own ideas, my own sensibilities…. but more in the style of this artist  in a search for a different style of my own. I’ve switched from oils for the time being  to acrylics because they seem more spontaneous to me. I don’t know if the artist I’m talking about uses acrylics or not…. most pieces are listed as mixed media.

This artist’s work is large, I’m merely experimenting on small square foot panels.

This artist has a larger vocabulary in the work , not just the bilateral shapes, and that work I don’t like as well altho’ the colors and textures in all pieces are something I’m drooling over.

I guess, at the end of the day, whether we’ve been at this business of making art for one day or one lifetime, studying and , yes, I’ll say it, copying the work of others has been standard practice. The ideal goal is to move beyond the copying and begin to find something that moves each one of us in a very personal way. This is the motivation we all need to keep making art EVERYDAY.

GOOD LUCK  in your own creative invention and re-invention wherever direction  you may find yourself heading toward.

Art Quote for the Day

IMG_4314The other day this phrase passed through my brain. ” I’m a happy idiot”

Huh? What?

Well, it occurred to me after doing what is most probably the 100 th demonstration on how to mix all the colors on a color wheel using colored pencils that I am totally enthralled with that whole process. No matter how many times I create a color wheel, using colored pencils, or paint, or pastels, or even cut paper, it’s like magic to me every time it’s completed. So, the more I thought about it, it occurred to me that no matter how many times I demonstrate shading with graphite pencils, or how to blend brushstrokes with oil paint, or how salt thrown onto wet watercolor creates a grainy texture I’m like a child seeing it for the first time. It’s absolutely and totally magical to me. I never get tired of it.

I’ve always been very good at doing repetitive tasks. I used to fold arty T-shirts, hundreds of dozens a day, found it tiring but also satisfying in an achievement kind of way, i make Christmas ornaments out of paper, dozens and dozens  the same way , over and over. I don’t find this kind of activity boring. Actually I think it’s kind of meditative…… the muscle memory achieved by the repetitive motion frees up my brain for thinking about other stuff.

So, everyday I teach…… every semester the lessons stay basically the same and I give the same demonstrations, fortunately with as much enthusiasm as the first time I ever did them. The resulting art work achieved by the students is the big payoff. they do amazing things and ITS NEVER THE SAME THING TWICE!  It’s like Christmas day opening presents when every new project is completed and turned in.

I am a happy ,( maybe idiot is the wrong word after all) ,  child in a grown up’s body – maybe? Maybe no qualifier is necessary …. I’m just so very happy when I’m making art and showing others how to make art as well.