A CREATIVE EXERCISE TO TRY

I teach drawing and design and one of the first sketchbook assignments I give to the students is to pick a shape and draw it 50 times 50 different ways. This gets their imagination flowing and allows them to address different design concepts we’ve discussed; line,value,variety , etc.

I myself engage in this exercise often, making a several variations of a shape . I have posted the many variations on a shape….. there are definitely more I could come up with.. color being an additional aspect I have even touched yet. try it yourself with a shape of your own choosing.

Do you see the basic shape I started with and it’s variations throughout all the sketches?

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Art Quote for the Day

Some more of my long lost notes….

Underpainting – an underpainting stimulates imagination . A black and white canvas is tedious and arouses very little initiative

Pigments for underpainting require little oil . It’s best to underpaint in neutral colors, grays or pinks.
For grays – use white lead and umber and prussian blue
For pinks – use white lead and venetian red

A midtone surface gives more flexibility than white as both dark and light will show up.
Thin color (glaze) is used for shadowand thick paint is used for highlights.

FLESH TONES
1. “basic” (caucasian) – equal parts burnt sienna & white
2. Add to ‘basic’ skin color for darker tones and variations – raw umber, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow ultramarine blue
3. for lighter white tones – white + burnt sienna & raw umber
+ cadmium red, burnt sienna
+ alizarin crimson & burnt sienna
+ burnt sienna & cadmium yellow
+ burnt sienna & lemon yellow
+ burnt sienna & ultramarine

Art Quote for the Day

I was cleaning out my storage shelves at school today and came across some handout sheets I’d forgotten about. I read over them and found them pretty interesting and helpful as far as painting goes…. I will post the information here hoping it will be helpful to others.

FYI – COLORS AND WHAT THEY DO

1. White mixed with other colors dulls their brilliance

2. Ultramarine blue  + white,viridian green, barium, naples yellow  = delicate atmospheric greens

+ ochres                                                                      = dull greens

+ cadmium yellow, zinc yellow                              = vivid greens

+ umber, white                                                         = grays

3. Prussian blue   + cadmium yellow                                                         = greens of great intensity

+ white                                                                             = silvery, bluish greens

+ burnt sienna                                                                = deep green

+ iron oxide reds & white                                             = grayish distant greens

+ naples yellow                                                               = cold luminous greens

+ ochre                                                                             = dull greens

+ umber, white,                                                              = all variations of warm or silvery grays

4. Naples yellow  +  black                                                                             = neutral greens

+ venetian reds,cadmium red , vermillion                =  warm pinks

5. Cadmium yellows + blues, blacks                                                          = greens

+ burnt sienna                                                          = more “fiery” sienna

6. Cadmium reds & vermillion + umber                                                   = duller reds

+ alizarin crimson                                  =  intensely fiery reds

GLAZING TIPS

1. Black and alizarin crimson make a deep velvety color suitable for glazing.

2. Pure viridian, alizarin crimson & burnt sienna are the most useful glazing colors”

3. The area to be glaze should be lightly moistened with painting medium.  Apply medium to surface and wipe with hand or brush to a thin layer

4. If dried layer is too shin ( oily or varnished) use FINEST  abrasive steel wool, or cheesecloth moistend with thurpentine – rub in parallel, horizontal strokes.

Art Quote for the Day

“I notice that students often start laying in colors and paint just to cover the canvas, without being very attentive to what’s going down–colors and values all over the map! They are feeling they want to get started and hope to refine it later. The problem is, the surface of the picture plane is so alive and active that every inattentive mark you put on it is taking you away from what you had intended to paint faster than you can possibly realize . It makes a lot of sense to try and get it right the first time as if it really mattered, moving intelligently right now toward your idea. And it really helps to have an idea. But just laying in paint as an unhelpful foundation completely confounds our ability to see what we’ve accomplished and where we need to go next. Every part is now reverberating with every other in a chaotic and confusing jumble, and trying to dig ourselves out of that mess may be too much for any painter.
This brings up 2 points.First, so much of what we do while we paint is a reflection of our character and shows us, for better or worse, and if we choose to perceive it, our true nature. Not taking time to lay in a strong and meaningful foundation may be something that manifests in other areas of our life. Art can be a remarkable feedback mechanism for our life.
This is not the same as trying to get it perfect. It justs means trying to get it as right as you can as you go along. “Right” means being aligned to your idea. Trying for perfection takes the life out of expression. to be continued………..

Creative Authenticity- 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision by Ian Roberts

Art Quote for the Day

WORKING METHOD

” It’s painful to think of the number of paintings that don’t work, not only my own, but also what I see in galleries and museums.  Such failures may be adequately painted but they don’t sing.  They’ve left the studio but they aren’t happy about  it.  It’s simple and inevitable: there’s work we artists do that doesn’t come together.  And for each of us there’s only one solution to this problem. You just continue to  make paintings, and you make more paintings, and then for no particular reason all of a sudden you start to click and all the pieces that you’ve been working with , the direction you’ve been perceiving “as if through a glass darkly” is now open and clear, in all its glory.  We paint and everything falls into place.  That expression of being “in the zone” expresses the experience perfectly.  There is a momentum you’ve built up which was essential to this new work.  If you had been waiting  for inspiration, waiting  for that flow to begin, it would have caught you too flat-footed to notice.  It arrived out of the readiness that all the previous work had created in you  .  Regardless of how sluggish that process may have seemed at the time, things were  lining up  in preparation, ideas were formulating.

The making of art offers a poor example of efficiency at work.  Yet all that practice and preparation makes us ready when for some reason everything gets lined up and we become as if conduits for the spirit.  It shows in the result. the rest of the time we work to keep the channel open until things realign. Then, inexplicably and in exhilaration, everything goes right.

So much of our output seems destined to be merely preparation.  It’s what  makes the inevitable harsh judgment of our work when it’s not going  well so counterproductive, particularly when we compare our struggles in the studio to someones else’s edited, presented gallery work.  When we judge our output against someone else’s, we tend first to admire their mastery of their  obsessions.  We each have certain  fascinations and because of that  we excel at them.  So we may notice a painter’s handling of reflections or the way they handle paint itself and think we cna never paint like that.  And perhaps we may not.  Because that’s their area,not ours: it holds them and they have wrestled with it and perfected it. Our own obsessions are so close to us we probably can’t see them.  We’re  blind to our own magic.

The lengths an artist will go to create a particular way of painting is also deceptive.  We can think of Sargent who worked hard, scraping and repainting pieces, to get that effortless look of virtuosity.  We can’t compare that with what we’ve just finished working on this morning  Just because someone’s painting looks loose or facile doesn’t mean it was done quickly or effortlessly.

Creative Authenticity – 16 Principals to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision by Ian Roberts

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!….

Art Quote for the Day

I bought a new sketchbook a few months ago. It’s a larger format than I usually use so I decided I would divide each page into small squares. It’s been an interesting process…. depending on the size of the small squares, depending on how many I put on one page, I find myself exploring themes and variations of a single theme. sometimes I’ll start a page by filling all the squares with a similar shape and then start doing different things to each one. sometimes it’ll be certain set of colors I want to work with or a different media. Every single little square is a future painting I think. There are more small squares than I have time left in my life to paint but it’s going to be fun trying.

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.