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?

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

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

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

In the French Academy, beginning students were called ‘eleves’.  They had a reasonably good life; they were exempted from military service and were well positioned to compete with apprentices outside the academy.  There were monthly examinations, designed to weed out inferior  students but the major goal, from 1666 onward, was to to win two all-important prizes: the Grand Prix and the Prix-de-Rome scholarship. The Grand Prix was not easy to attain.  First, students had to pass an examination by executing a satisfactory drawing in the presence of an instructor.  If they passed that test they could submit a sketch, and if that sketch was accepted, they were invited to make a picture or relief from the sketch while locked in a room ( to make sure they weren’t cheating by copying other drawings).  All the pictures that had been made that way were put in a public exhibition, and eventually a panel chose a single Grand Prix winner.

The Prix-de-Rome was much more generous than today’s grants and fellowships.  Winners went to the French Academy in Rome for four years, and when they returned they had a choice of careeres.  They could either set up shop in some small town or else try for the next step up in the academy.  After being an ‘eleve’ and taking part in the Grand Prize competition , a student could apply to be accepted as an ‘agree’, which involved finding a sponsor and submitting another painting. “Agrees” then had to pay a fee and complete a third work, this time specifically for the academy’s permanent collection: and if it was accepted, they became ‘academiciens’, the highest normal position, something like our full professors. This three stage system was adopted from the medieval sequence from apprentice to journeyman-apprentice to master.

from Why Art Cannot Be Taught 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

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.