lesson in observation and commitment

Man who wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details. – Heraclitus


The assignment focuses on natural objects with complex (and beautiful) structure and texture. The students set up a composition  balancing positive and negative space, using sea shells and insects – either or both.

Careful observation is key. I suggest they use a magnifying glass. I ask they consider the quality of the lines they use. What sort of lines represent structure? What sort of line represent texture? By now they want to have a larger selection of fine(r) markers.

A couple of students have a particularly challenging time and I suggest short breaks for them. The weather is so nice now, walking or moving will help to settle them.

Here are fine examples of the drawings.  Note composition, quality of line and the attention to detail.

Close up and personal by Virginia

detail

Bug Portrait by Marco

Detail

Shell Game by Kat

Detail

Bug and Shells by Is SaK

 

 

Sally Sells Seashells by the Seashore by Angela

Detail

The Starry Fish by Vince Van D’oh! by Virgil

Detail

Sea Dreams by Anita

Detail

 

Equanimity by Amareli

Detail

Deux Ex Machina by Anthony

Three Stooges by Adonis

Advanced students use scratchboard. Here is one example by Victoria – still in progress.

Victoria’s shells on scratchboard (in progress)

Detail

 

every picture tells a story

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Wouldn’t you know, they get their marker act together and it comes to an end. We move to charcoal next.

But before we do…
Here are samples of (larger than life) self-portrait work. They use media of their choice. This study moves students into understanding art is a form of communication.

Every portrait tells a story. We learn a lot about each other during this critique.

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Brittany

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Susan

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Michael

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Kanyata

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Maygin

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Kanata (#2)

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Victoria

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Collin

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Kestin

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Robert

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Karen

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Natividad

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Jen

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Alma

I include a few of the outdoor assignments. Students spend 4 days on the campus, drawing landscape.

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…and there’s Susan, an advanced student who learns how to collage. She’s never done it before and this is practice. The image does tell a story but it’s not about birds, it’s about a fox.

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Basically we cover texture, structure and depth. Next week is value.

structures and textures, insects and shells

Watch the greater image materialize. You need that thing over there to tell you what to do about that thing over here. -Robert Genn


img_9315Structure – a complex system of parts arranged together (to form a whole)
Texture – tactile quality of a surface

The student’s task for this assignment is to learn to distinguish different types of lines. They look for those that form a structure and those that define a surface. I bring out large and small sea shells. I also bring out my collection of insects and lizards. Secretly I wish they will all choose the creatures, but I know better than to insist on this.

Aside from looking at the lines that make up a complex natural object they also work to balance positive and negative space.  And they continue to develop patience.

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Karen’s shells

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detail

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Victoria’s dead lizard and a spiral shell

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detail of lizard

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Brittany’s Bees – Two of them

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detail

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Kanata’s See shells, Sea shells

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detail (amusing tarantula wasp)

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Kevin’s (maybe ready to kiss) cicada and palo verde beetle 

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first sketch – too small

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Robert’s shell studies

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detail

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Maygin’s shells and mantis

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detail mantis face

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Alma’s shell corner

self-portraits

….a little humor I found on Facebook last week.

Jose, below, was late to start his homework assignment, a self-portrait.  I don’t usually include incomplete work in posts, but I like what he brings in and I photograph it before he takes it home to finish. He’d mentioned he was going to shave before starting the portrait. I’d told him to hold off because texture could be a great added element. You see here, it is.

Jose

By the time the class arrives to this point, they have all the skills needed to fulfill the assignment.  BTW, they don’t start with a circle, they work organically. They move from edge to edge, shape to shape, or from the center out as Jose does here.


Though the class always enjoys this particular critique, they don’t necessarily find the self-portrait work pleasant. Many express how awful things are turning out, how many times they’re having to start over, long drawing nights with little sleep…do they have to share it? and what’s the worst that can happen if they don’t do it?

If you don’t do it, the world will end, I say to them.

I do know the challenges of the assignment. I trust they get much out of it if they are willing to complete the experience. So it continues to stay in the game plan despite the difficulty.

Kyle

Michelle "Flowers"

Andres, Turtle Gossip

Sabrina's Smoke n Mirrors

Alban

Drawing 2 students below, use a variety of materials.

Chuck’s oh so real drawing, in silvery graphite.

Chuck "37"

The ever-amusing Crystal uses mixed media including acrylic, ink, marker, and ball point pen.

Crystal's Shenanigans

Kim uses marker for the line work, and soft pastel for everything else.

Kim

The self-portrait study is homework on this round.  The in-class assignment is an outdoor study. There were a number of excellent works, here are 4 highlights.

Alexis

Sharon's Pine Tree

Kim

Crystal's Tree Dandruff

We’re done with markers.  Some students who thought they hated them are sad to see them go. Next week…charcoal.


Master printmaker Mauricio Lasanksy left the earth this week, at the age of 98. Because both my undergrad and graduate drawing and printmaking instructors, Kurt Kemp and Spencer Fiddler, worked directly under him,  I’ve always felt a strong kinship with his work.
I’ll leave you with one of his Intaglio self-portraits today.

RIP Mauricio Lasansky 1914-2012.

Mauricio Lasansky, Self-Portrait

detail, discipline and some kind of drive

Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.
William Feather


Assignment: Complex Structure – Complex Texture – Looking closely.
Students lay out composition before start of drawing. They pay attention to balancing positive and negative space.
Because they pick their own shells to draw, they also pick their challenge.

Critique takes place our first day back from Spring Break.  I ask who worked over the break to complete their assignments, and more than half the class raise their hands.  This is the commitment this particular group has shown with every assignment. It’s  a quality student’s must have to continue in a fine arts program.

In general nothing is more satisfying to me than working on paper.  And when the class put up their assignments for critique this afternoon, I get the sense that right now this may be true for them.

Here is a drawing from each student present for critique. I share a detail shot in some cases because I want you to see how rich with attention areas are.

Element by Sabrina

John

Jose's "Shell-Shocked"

Sharon's "Tossed Salad"

Michelle's "Veins"

Pathways by Andres

Detail

Eddie

detail

Simplexity by Alexis

Detail

Ashley

Detail

Death Star by Kyle

Detail

Drawing and Composition 2 students work with different media, including scratch board, inks, and fluorescent paint.  They choose their subject-matter.

Crystal

Fox by Kim

Detail

Chuck

I know how hard they’ve worked.  I appreciate the commitment and energy they’ve brought forth. It’s exciting.

lines, lines, and more lines…

In this assignment students are looking at lines that make up the structure of an object and inform us about shape. And they are looking at texture, lines that help define surface quality. In class they are drawing shells. Outside of class, they have choice, subject matter varies.  They learn, in the case of the shells, to separate texture from value/color. I explain if anyone has a problem distinguishing value and texture,  feel the surface with your fingertip. Eyes become sensitive and so do fingertips. Everyone is still learning to be patient.
There is something there, I see it. But I can’t feel anything. What do I do?
Ignore it. You’re noticing color / value. It’s not texture, I say.
But I want to show it!
I know, but you can’t.  Not now.
When?
Soon.
How soon?

This is a complex assignment. They enjoy it. I enjoy it. It’s important that they pace themselves, and work with care. The classroom always gets so quiet, you can hear a pin drop.  I have music on during class, and during this particular time they don’t appreciate loud or noisy…

It’s the first time they are considering composition and deliberately balancing positive and negative space.
End result…always pretty exciting.

Juan

Elizabeth

Gabrielle

Javier

Javier

Julieta

Julieta

Katie

Gabrielle

So…in the process of  completing this drawing, several students gift me some shells. One student, from last semester, dropped in just to give me a couple of great shells.  They pay attention….they don’t forget.

In memory of Donna, RIP