charcoals and pastels and the end of a semester

img_9567

I’ll miss this group. Students came in early and students left late. They took on every challenge with great attitude.

The main Drawing 1 assignment is a charcoal still-life focusing on volume and depth. I wish you could see the surface of these studies. The camera doesn’t do them justice.

The charcoal and pastel work are examples of the last days of drawing – sort of breaking out of some of the rules I’d set up for them all semester.

The master reproductions are Drawing 2 student’s final assignment.

img_9512

…and maybe Collin ↓ will get extra credit for the imaginative title to his work. Please note.

img_9568

Collin’s “Monkey Scream – The existential horror of being a gorilla skull in an art 111 still-life.

img_9515

Travis’s Skull

img_9495

img_9562

Brittany

img_9494

img_9563

Kanata’s broken T-pot

img_9511

img_9516

Firm by Robert

img_9509

img_9560

Karen’s Tipsy

img_9559

Jen’s Still-life

img_9508

img_9558

Margin’s T-Pot

img_9561

Victoria

img_9565

Kestin

img_9575

Kestin’s Study

img_9569

Robert’s Study

img_9507

img_9571

Gabriela’s Raphael (reproduction)

img_9573

Jessica’s reproduction Amarita (Indian master)

img_9574

Natividad’s Alex Katz (reproduction)

Happy Holidays to all my students!

charcoal and pastel – final work

IMG_8887

Here is one good group of students. I know I said this before – they came in, focused, and drew – day after day after day.  Overall, I’d say they were a quiet group. They laughed a bit here and there just to relieve tension, I suspect. They never hesitated to point out which works they liked best and clearly express why.

Our last day of class was no exception. They came in with extra excitement and then we proceeded to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the work. We talked about how the semester played out for each of them.

A challenge I do have is teaching various levels of drawing students in one 2 hour and 45 minute class session. You’ll see examples from all the levels and you’ll note that some of the work might be unfinished.  I teach realism. They learn to look and they learn to put down what they see.

IMG_8888

Susan’s Tortoise, mixed media on (we never knew what kind of) paper

IMG_8897

Gwynn’s Flower Rag Boogie, pastel on BFK

IMG_8889

Gwynn’s master reproduction, a Georgia O’Keeffe, pastel on BFK

IMG_8891

Jessica’s charcoal still life on BFK

IMG_8892

Sofia’s Glass Bottles on BFK

IMG_8893

Yari’s Terrific as Terrific gets, charcoal study on BFK

IMG_8894

Fabiola’s Friday Night, charcoal study on BFK

IMG_8895

Deja’s Pearly Whites, charcoal study on BFK

IMG_8896

Gabriela’s Still Life on BFK

IMG_8899

Jennifer’s Rope, charcoal study on BFK

IMG_8907

Ehteli’s Absract, charcoal study on BFK

IMG_8900

Jennifer’s Great Knot, value study

IMG_8901

Sofia’s Accidental, value study

IMG_8902

Ehthlei’s value study

IMG_8903

Bravilio’s Faint Memories of Freedom, value study

IMG_8904

Dustin’s value study

Class is over. Grades are in.

I have a feeling most of this group will continue to draw throughout the summer.

IMG_8908

charcoal – the end!

“One looks, looks long, and the world comes in.”
– Joseph Campbell


IMG_8244

It feels like the semester moved quickly – carefully but quickly. We only just started charcoal and now it’s over, I comment. We’ve worked on charcoal for at least 6 weeks, but we didn’t break in between assignments like we usually do, to discuss things.

Today we wrap up and talk about 2 separate value studies. One is cloth and pattern (and knots) using local value. The other is a still life using an artificial light source.

I wonder out loud what did they learn. What was the thing you each developed more and more with each assignment?  Patience, someone says. Certainly patience. What else? A few other things come up and then I hear – Seeing. We learned to see. Yes!  That’s it. You learned to look closely and you learned to see!

We move through the individual assignments and talk about careful observation and how that developed throughout the semester.

IMG_8233

49 Shades of Gray, Gwynn

IMG_8242

Groovey, Ryan

IMG_8237

Knot, Alejandra

IMG_8236

Knot in this Country, Alfredo

IMG_8235

Let’s get Knotty, Kiria

IMG_8232

Lost in the Shadows, Gwynn

IMG_8241

Nyeh-heh-heh, Alfredo

IMG_8240

Defeated by a Cup, Henry

IMG_8238

Still Life Practice, Casey

IMG_8234

Mugshot of the Century, Aaron

Susan, an advanced student, works independently. Her goal for the semester is to gain confidence with portraiture. She begins with a baby and make her way to a mature adult. She adds to the challenge by working in silverpoint. With research and trial, Susan  completes six fine silver points. For variety she brings color into the final 2 images of the Dalai Lama.  One of the qualities of silverpoint work is with time it oxidizes. The color  seems to take on a life of its own as it changes rather drastically. Time will tell us more – it’s all about experiment in this case.
Here are her 6 portraits.

IMG_8220

Conversation about charcoal: layering it, erasing it, the beauty of the knots, shadows and light, and the illusion of depth.
We talk about developing patience. Most importantly we talk about looking and seeing – and the value of careful observation. If you ask me there are always lessons in drawing about the world outside the studio.

 

value study and then some – final critique of the semester

IMG_7520

At the start of the semester I ask students what they’d like to get out of my drawing class. Clay says Practice practice practice – and he does. Heather, an engineering student, wants visualization and fun. I hope both were prompted. I ask if she’s enjoyed the semester. Yes, and despite how hard it was, she will miss it. Terry responds TO LEARN TO SEE AGAIN! He came to the right classroom. And from the looks of all of his completed assignments – he did. Most students say they want to improve their drawing skills and in fact, each one of them does. The semester appears to come and go so quickly. We hold final critique this week.

The class has two different assignments to go over – maybe more, because advanced students worked through something very different. We get going, and in between there is plenty of laughter, cookies, coffee and peaches. It is an easy ending to a fast paced semester.

This particular group moves through the early marker assignments more quickly than any class I’ve taught before. They slow down with charcoal. A few struggle with it in a way I do not expect. Surprises for everyone I guess, including the advanced students who reproduce a master work. For a few days the tension in the room they draw in (because I separate them) was thick. By day 3 there is break through (thank goodness). I spend the last day of class walking from student to student appreciating the focus.

I wish I had their very first marker study to compare to this last charcoal. You would get a sense of the progress everyone made. Here are a few highlights – note the values. As usual, I can’t possibly include every work.

whateveriwant

Clay’s Study.

 

IMG_7513

Adam’s Teapot with reflection of windows and sky in it.

 

IMG_7511

Trenary”s glass bottles on tin.

 

IMG_7514

Naomi’s study.

IMG_7515

Hyeokewoo’s Gorilla Skull.

IMG_7524

Terry’s still-life.

IMG_7518

Charles works on reproducing an Alice Neel.

IMG_7517

Robert reproduces hands of God and Adam – Michelangelo

Have a good summer! Keep drawing, you’ve only just started.

the last day of drawing class

Discipline in art is a fundamental struggle to understand oneself, as much as to understand what one is drawing. Henry Moore

IMG_7012

We have lots of conversation this semester. We talk about art, looking, seeing, putting down what one sees, and focus. We discuss art as discipline, as practice.

Look closely, work carefully. Look closely, draw slowly. Are you drawing what you see?  Look. Look. Look again. See.

This last critique includes final charcoal studies. The group stays focused with this medium. They work to make the surface of their drawing look smooth and rich. They consider the shape and material of objects, dark darks, light lights, values in between, edges, space and illusion of depth.

Have a good break – you all deserve it!

IMG_7003

Susan’s knot.

 

IMG_7002

Aimee’s knot.

 

IMG_7008

Pedro’s pattern work.

IMG_6988

Jorge

 

IMG_7009

Jorge’s skull drawing.

IMG_6987

Leah

 

IMG_7004

Leah’s skull drawing.

IMG_6989

Aimee and Susan

 

IMG_7001

Aimee’s wine glass.

IMG_6992

Renee

 

IMG_7006

Renee’s bottle tops.

 

IMG_6991

Pedro and Charles

 

IMG_7005

Charles’ containers and candlestick

IMG_6990

Giovanni

 

IMG_7007

Giovanni’s metal watering can.


Below is an extra charcoal drawing Susan worked on. Susan doesn’t need any extra credit, she’s got 5 extra credit drawings in the queue – but just in case.

IMG_7011

keep up the practice!

One looks, looks long, and the world comes in. – Joseph Campbell  


IMG_5463

Before the final critique begins I watch and listen as students appreciate each other’s work and note their individual progress. Some students remember how nervous they were on the first day of class when I said they would not be using any pencil in my drawing class.

It takes a while but finally I get them to organize so we can begin class.

IMG_5465It’s been a good semester. This group is full of personality and support for each other. Here are a few highlights from yesterday’s critique.

IMG_5455

Adriana’s Master’s Reproduction

IMG_5462

Angie’s first value study – cloth and pattern and knot

IMG_5461

Popay’s value study, cloth, pattern and knot

IMG_5460

Cassidy’s Black Teapot

IMG_5459

JT”S Gorilla Skull

IMG_5458

Angie’s Pitcher Study

IMG_5467

Vicki’s Teapot

IMG_5468

Popay’s Still-Life

IMG_5466

Mariah’s Gorilla Skeletal Study

IMG_5456 IMG_5457

….. over and out. Keep up the practice! I yell as they exit the studio.

IMG_5344

textile pattern design equals a charcoal value study

When I put this still life together I was deliberate in the fabric and its layout. I combine stiff white cotton, furry faux zebra, mint satin, shiny red and white stripes, matte red and white pin stripes,  velvet-black with even blacker glitter circular designs, textured sofa fabric and even a shiny cheep-polyester spider web pattern – maybe the latter is a cruel option or maybe a challenging one for the right person. I let students decide. Anyway…that’s just a few of the complicated patters and surfaces.

This is student’s first charcoal composition. It’s intimidating to say the least. By this point the class is wanting to move on to a new medium, so they jump in – head first, to the deep end. I am pleased with progress and result. Most important, so are they. Charcoal is all about working a rich surface, putting down black blacks and lifting out white whites…and working all the values in between.

Ana goes right to the spider web and works on it slow and steady for 2 class days. The light hits some spots and a few lines are a bright shiny silver. She notes the highlight with white Conte.  She wears her spider web blouse in honor of the work. I am impressed with the patience she’s developed this semester. This is her strong charcoal drawing  below.

pitchblack

Ana’s Pitch Black

Ashley (below) works almost her entire composition with her one pencil eraser. I make other suggestions but she sticks to her game plane. She’s so focused and appears to enjoy the delicate work, she doesn’t take a break. She finishes and decides to use white Conte for the zebra patterned white’s she’d already completed. I wish I’d caught her before she’d gone in that direction. We talk a little about why I think she should have kept her original carefully developed whites. After-all her erased marks were so rich and sensitive. She tones it all down using her finger tips and eraser, and pulls it together beautifully.

knottedzebra

Ashley’s Knotted Zebra

IMG_4068

Satin Charcoal by Lela

Lela (above ) notes very quickly why I ask them to use soft compressed charcoal. And why I suggest they be careful with the white Conte. She re-works the striped area many times until she is completely satisfied. I let her borrow my somewhat pricey, white soft-pastel. The folds in the cloth are accurate, – consequently believable.

Tanya (below) never relaxed with the marker, though she’s calm and happy with charcoal.  I comment on how her whole body appears at ease as she develops a beautiful and dimensional knot. She finishes the composition with some complex pattern on either side of that knot. She expresses her emotions with humor,  in the title.

knottense

Knot Tense by Tanya

inbetween

In Between by Adrianna

Finally Adriana, above, who began the assignment so nervous she said she felt like someone who had never even picked up a pencil. And then she completed this incredible knot. I think her confidence is back.

Manny (below), one of my Drawing 2 students, kicks up dust with color pastels. I tell him to be careful. He shouldn’t be inhaling pigments. He works by the open front door and direct the dust out of the classroom. I’m amused by how he draws, its physical for him. He has taken two semesters with me. His whole style has developed. I want him to continue in the fine arts, but Manny will do what is best for him. He’s now a graphic design student.

He freely helps the other students who are struggling with the various challenges of working with charcoal and Conti. I listen and watch the way he supports others and their  work. They take to him well. I also think he could teach.

IMG_4072

Manny’s Colorful Knot – Pastel on BFK

I let them go an extra day even though we don’t have very much time left in the semester,  because as a whole, the group is working the materials so well The surfaces are rich and well-developed, not bad for their first charcoal assignment.

What will we do with the last week of drawing …