Saturday, October 21, 2017

Week 7 of art school

It's hard to believe that I've through seven weeks of the first semester already.

I am already starting to plan my classes for the spring semester. Registration starts pretty soon, and I need to be ready.

In any case, here is what happened last week:

In ceramics, I decided that my project was too plain, so I added a vertical stripe to each piece. This was done with black slip applied over white slip. I hope it looks good after firing, but who knows. This is the pieces all disassembled and continuing to dry in preparation for bisque firing next week:


Nothing is perfect in this work. Things are all slightly askew, in particular, and there is some surface roughness that I am less than entirely happy with. But overall I have hope they will turn out well once they are glazed. The plain remains to glaze them all with a turquoise glaze over the white (and now black) slip. There is also a chance I will instead use different colours on some of the sections, but I am not all that thrilled with the other colour choices available to us in this project. There are seven glazes we can choose from, but two react badly with black slip (making a mess in the kiln and possibly damaging nearby pieces in the process) and one is the same clear we used last time. That leaves just four new glazes that will work in my case. Oh, and we're not allowed to overlap the glazes either, to avoid drips & runs in the firing process.

Art history - AKA Visual Culture I - was another lecture that will be included in the mid-term, which is next week. That will be my first college test in over three decades. The instructor tells me not to worry about it - she says I will do just fine - but no one does these things calmly. I will be fine, I know, but it does add stress.

Painting class this week was another round of life painting, at which I continue to stink - and a very amusing homework assignment. First, though, the best painting from the in class life painting session:


I told you it was pretty bad. That's on paper, as the canvas painting was even worse.

The painting homework this week is to paint something from a song. Any song. It could be what the song makes you see or feel, or it could be a narrative of the song itself. I've got several relatively obscure things running around in my head as a result, and I am not at all sure which I will choose. Or I might get crazy and do more than one. Dunno. Results of that effort will appear here next week assuming they don't stink too.

Design studio gave us a new project: we're building a model of a pavilion for a garden here in Vancouver, based on something to do with insects: their movement, life cycle, etc. We are not, however, supposed to have the pavilion be a giant insect. I've been toying with fireflies, but I am not happy with the things I have come up with so far. As a result, this weekend has me pondering this assignment again. We get a couple of hours in class to work on it this coming week, but it's due at the end of class, so I need this resolved and worked out. Also, he gave us back our grades on the wire model/movement work, and I got another A. Seems like things are going well in that class for me.

Finally we had drawing class yesterday, and we turned in our assignment from last week. That was a triptych in which we setup a still life and did some interesting things we positive vs. negative space. We were working on manila paper with charcoal and chalk or white pastel (or Conté). Here's what I turned in:


And here's what the still life setup for it looked like:


There are some interesting distortions in in, but I am reasonably happy with the results. Apparently the instructor was as well. A perfect score and a request that she be allowed to keep it for a while (along with several others) to put up on display somewhere. The drawing homework for this week is an interior drawing of a house in one point perspective, with something wacky added to it. I have ideas, but I am more worried about other homework due sooner, so it will wait a while.

I'd say that ended the week, but as dinner was ending I was starting to feel a sore throat come on, and it only got worse over night. I appear to have a cold. Not fun.

I did go out and buy an A/V receiver to replace the dead one, so we can once again drive real speakers when watching TV. I haven't completely set it up yet, but we used it last night and it sounded pretty good. Just a cheap Yamaha in this case - last year's model, even - but it will do the job.

In other news, the weather in Vancouver has continued cool and rainy. We keep hearing fairly apocalyptic weather predictions on the CBC radio in the morning: huge storms that will produce 22-50 mm of rain. You do the math, but it's nothing compared to what we experienced in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

And speaking of those, there was a pretty large fire something like seven miles from our old home last week. Called the Bear Fire, it's in really rugged terrain, and in a very odd area where there are a lot of transients and a fair amount of illegal activity. I was in there a few times when I was a member of the VFD, and it's the place where I was famously told by a local that we should not leave the fire engines unattended overnight or they would be stripped clean. Very weird. Anyway, it's currently listed at 391 acres and 50%  contained. CalFire seems to be getting a handle on it. I have stopped worrying about it. I think they finally got a little rain down there as well, which is good.

That ends this week's update, I think. With luck this cold will pass quickly, I'll get painting & design done this weekend, and the art history test will go well. Time will tell.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Yet more updates... apparently I have no life!

A few more things have come up since yesterday, so here we go.

First, the pile of accumulated hail is still present, now more than 48 hours after it fell:


Temperatures are in the 7-9 degrees (Celsius) range, so it's cool, but well above freezing. Apparently it was a lot of hail.

Next, I went to school today - despite it being a Saturday, and covered my slab project in white slip. The photo isn't great - they were on the top of the drying rack, well hidden, but you can see them here, sort of:


Those will be white once they are bisque fired. Then I will cover them with a turquoise glaze, I think, which should make them quite pretty. Tentative title is "E.M and J.B. Early Efforts". Someone will work it out. Email me when you think you have it.

After that work was done, I decided I had a few minutes to spare while there, and one of the perks of being an art student is you get a locker which you are allowed to paint. A few weeks ago I covered mine in gesso, to hide the old homage to The X-Files (which was nice, but a bit stale, to be honest). So, today, I turned it into this:


It really stands out now. You can't miss it. And I rather like it. I might need to do another layer over it at some point, but possibly not. Also, for the record, the texture on the front predates me, and I left it there. I kind of like it, actually.

On my way out the door to go home, I noted this:


That's a display cabinet in the central arts courtyard area in which the various art instructors hang shows of the work their students are producing. Down in the lower left, that's my most recent project from design studio. The other works in there are really good, though. Much better than mine, in my opinion. Top right is a sea snake or eel. Middle left is jelly fish. Middle right is a rabbit. Bottom right - unlabeled - is a jumping frog. I think they are all more expressive than mine, but each has its strengths.

And finally, from this morning's dog walk, I have several photos for your consideration:





Each of those shows a bunch of torn up grass. The question for you is, what is doing that? What is ripping up large areas of grass like that?

Before I tell you, I should mention that this started a few weeks ago. The torn up spots started appearing - at random - all over the area we live in. Sometimes they were under trees, sometimes they were out in the open, well away from everything. For several weeks we didn't see what was causing them, and we wondered. Squirrels digging up old nuts, perhaps? Skunks or raccoons digging for grubs?

Anne finally saw the answer, and I saw it as well a couple of weeks later. I was rather surprised, really.

Crows. Yes, crows.

The local crows have can openers where their beaks should be, and we've seen them pulling the grass back to get at something - we're not sure what - beneath. There is a lot of sod in the area, and perhaps that makes it easier to pull it back, even years after it was installed. Or maybe not. Maybe they are just that strong and that determined. Either way, it's crows, and they are prying open people's yards to get at some sort of food. It's quite impressive, in a certain destructive way.

Those are the updates for today. Hope they were fun!

Friday, October 13, 2017

This Week In Review: Everything Else

The previous four posts have updated everyone about school, and the post before that about the hail storm. You'd think I was out of things to write about at this point, and you'd be close. But I have friends who ask for other updates from time to time, so this is for them. Specifically for Giselle, in this case. Hi Giselle!

The dogs are doing OK up here. We're down to 11 hours of daylight, Anne said this morning, so the morning walk is in the dark, and the evening walk is in the dark too. Rain is happening, and temperatures are dropping, and those will impact dog walks more than simple daylight, or the absence thereof.

Skookie is showing her age a bit, but she's still top dog and keeps it that way. Cruzer is still dumb as a post, and can be a bit stiff after waking up, but he's otherwise happy and healthy. Tinkerbell is going through her awful teenage years, alas. We're working on some new behavior issues that go with that and the second fear period. She's huge, of course, and that makes everything more interesting. Most amusingly, there is one place along the dyke where she will only walk on one side of a concrete bridge/thing. The other side has some metal plates in it that rattled at some point, and now those are entirely evil, and she has to stay away from them. For a day or two she wouldn't go over it at all. Dogs are weird.

Vancouver continues to be a nice place to live. Well, technically, we're in Richmond, but it's nice too. Mass transit works well for us, and the cars generally get driven just far enough to warm them up once or twice a week. Almost no miles at all, really.

We're pretty boring, though, as we were in California. Anne works. I go to school and do homework. Every once in a while we see friends in the area - which, amazingly, we have some of already - but then we go back to being boring. Every other week or so I mow the yard, weather permitting. And the other overhead of life is what it is, of course.

Most of you reading this are probably much better explorers of new cities and experiences. We're homebodies, and we tend to like it that way. What that means is when you come visit you'll have to show us the interesting places because we probably don't know about them.

Not much else to report, I think. If you want more, you'll have to email and ask for it, but be prepared to trade an update on your own life for it.

This Week In Review: Drawing

Drawing class... drawing class... It's been a while since I included any photos from that class. OK. I guess I can fix that now.

Weeks ago we did some work with drawings where we were deliberately flattening them out, to avoid showing depth. Here are those. (I think I shared one of these before but it got redrawn, so there are two versions of it now.)




Those were based on this still life:


Then we did some contour drawings, blind and non-blind. I have this plant that I worked from:


And from it I produced these:


A blind contour (above) and multiple contour drawings (below).



The assignment after that was the ginger root cross contour diptych.



Properly arranged - which seems to be hard to do in this software - and with better color adjustment, and with better photographic alignment, and those would line up left to right. But I don't like them. I failed to show the depth and curve in various areas. Oh well. I knew it before I turned it in, so lesson learned.

For the most recent assignment, though, it turns out I really need to work on my literalism.  Sigh.

Most recently we were create a radially symmetric drawing of kitchen utensils in chalk or white pastel on black paper. I did that, and produced something so rigid and tight that it's actually boring. And thus I get my first non-perfect grade in drawing class... 17/20. Here's the drawing and the source material:



Boring, eh? Yup. I could have done anything... but my weird brain locked in on the word "symmetric" and I did that, to the exclusion of anything else. Ugh.

Today we were doing more playing with negative space in class. Here's one I did there:


And here is the implement of torture that we sit on in drawing class:


That thing is called a drawing horse, or pony, and appears to date from about the time of the inquisition. Feh. I can imagine much better without much trouble at all. Maybe I'll have to work on that in design class.

Anyway, this week we're doing a triptych of a still life, again playing with negative space in various ways. Maybe I'll have pictures of that next in next week's update.

This Week In Review: Design

Design class finally sees some actual grades.

The first project consisted of several parts, done over several weeks. It was nice, because most of the work was done in or after class itself, so there wasn't a lot of homework. Given the load from other courses, that's been a good thing.

The first two bits of work were to create particular drawings of this object:


We ignored the base, but otherwise it was all to be drawn. First, as an orthographic:


And then again as a paraline:


I apologize for the lousy quality of those pictures. I did what I could to improve them.

Next we began some sketching to create a concept of an idea of our own, one that we built from cardboard and hot glue. The materials caused some limitations on what was possible, of course, but that's part of the process. Once the sketching process was done and we'd figured out our object, we then created paraline drawings of it (front and back, if needed), and then went off to build it.

Sadly, I don't yet have pictures of my sketches or paraline drawings of the object, but I have some of the object itself:



That thing is about 9" in all the large dimensions, and the assembly process drove me a bit mad, but not nearly as mad as it drove some of my classmates. You'd think that cardboard and hot glue would not pose that big a challenge to someone of my advancing years, but they did. The seams and corners could be a lot better.

Still, with the creation of that object, we finished the first assignment, and I have A's on every portion of it. Apparently experience does matter, and I have plenty of that.

We've already completed the next assignment as well. It was more nebulous: we were to use wire, a small base of MDF, and perhaps some paper to show how an animal moves, without actually showing the animal itself. Also we were to include an 11" x 17" idea sheet, and do a short presentation about what we created to the class.

Honestly that assignment description was vague enough to cause me some consternation, so I worked at mine and completed it early. I didn't trust that my concept would work. Here it is, without other context:


In case it's not obvious - and it's not - that's the movement of a landing bird. The rings show the orientation of the body as it lands as well as hinting at speed, and the centre (short) wire appears when the legs come down. Here's the idea sheet I put together:


And I did my presentation as well (something I am a lot more comfortable with than most of the kids in the class), and it's all done. No clue what the grade will be, but I suspect I did well despite my initial discomfort at the nebulous description. The grade will appear eventually and I'll see if I am right about that.

We're now getting ready to start the next assignment, which is to create a design for an entomology pavilion (very loosely defined) for a local place called Van Dusen Gardens. All we've been told so far is that we'll be building in cardboard again, that the pavilion might cover a 20' x 20' area (give or take), and that it needs to have some sort of insect related them. This week we're to collect some insect related images off the web that will help inspire our design.

And that's where design class sits. I am pretty happy in this class so far. It covers ground that I am familiar with and works in three dimensions. Essentially it plays to my strengths, unlike painting, and even drawing to a degree. Ceramics is good, too, but I can see there is a lot of technical stuff to learn that I haven't yet been exposed to.

Oh, and the instructor for this class is starting to put together a special projects design class in the Summer that will include working with the city (Vancouver) to get students to work on trying to find real solutions to problems they have but lack the manpower to work on. That might be interesting to do, and I will be looking for more details on it.

This Week In Review: Painting

Of all my classes, painting is in an odd way the most frustrating and yet the most fun.

Part of both of those feelings comes from the instructor, who is really nice, and clearly knows his stuff, and yet lets us work without a whole lot of guidance. Some - perhaps many - of us have no idea how we're doing in the class overall, and (sadly) grades still matter.

But honestly, some of the issue is that painting is an experiential thing - much as stone carving is, and I know that intimately - and you have to get it "into your fingers." That is, you have to do it. And do it. And do it. And do it. And do it again and again, until you start to understand it at a visceral level.

So far, I do not understand it, and I am regularly frustrated by the complete disconnect between my eyes & brain, and by another disconnect between my brain and my hand. Nothing works the way I want it to. Nothing.

I'm hesitant to even share my work here because I am so unhappy with most of it. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, here are some things that haven't yet made it to the blog:


This was an assignment we started in class and finished at home. The goal was to work from both images (taken from magazines) and from objects in real life. I struggled with it.

The guy in the bow tie is taken from an image. Specifically from a photo of a collage that looks a fair bit like what I painted. I'm OK with him. But there were also some real objects painted on this that really were awful, and got obliterated; one by the background and another by her. She's not all that great either, alas. I dug up another image as source material at home but really screwed up the hair. So badly, in fact, that I think I will rework this one, perhaps this weekend. It could be so much better than it is.

Next, we did life painting 1.5 weeks ago, and I was pretty much awful. We did some quick, gestural paintings, and this is the best I got:


That's not horrible, but not exactly stellar either. But then we went onto a canvas, and I was really struggling. Here's what came out, but if you laugh please keep it to yourself:


I was experimenting with both brush technique and color mixing on the canvas. I am simply not a good enough painter to pull the mess off, but I tried. I don't think the instructor was all that impressed either.

The latest homework was a copy project. We were given a photocopy of a painting (monochrome) and told to grid it out and enlarge it onto a canvas, section by section. There was a lack of clarity, however, and at least a couple of us interpreted that as meaning that each section could be painted in colours completely unrelated to the sections around it. I did that, and the resulting dog vomit of colors is actually kind of interesting. Here's the photocopy I worked from:


I think you can click on that to get a larger view. The painting is pretty complex, really, and we have no clue what the original colours are. You can see my grid marks on it as well. The reproduction I created looks like this:


Essentially 16 mini paintings, all with totally different color schemes. It sort of works, and sort of doesn't. Bits of what I did are really awful, and some is OK.

But what was I really copying? Well, it turns out the original is by Jules De Balincourt. Here's a link to his website and the original work, and here's a screen capture of it:


Kind of an interesting project, actually. Many hours of work to create that copy, and then we learn that the instructor didn't really mean for us to use different color schemes on each grid section. Oh well. Mostly, though, he wanted us to learn new kinds of brushwork and worry about tone & value, not the specifics of color. I did play with those things, actually, and the thing I produced isn't actually terrible, though it is close.

The most recent class started with a lecture and slides about some paintings and a bit of painting history, then it devolved in to something weirder - more personal about the instructor and his own work. Then we were told to paint anything we wanted.

I don't have photos of that yet. I went abstract, with really thick paint, and even some work with a palette knife instead of a brush. Once again I think the instructor was unimpressed.

I have this fundamental problem with painting: I have no clue how to tell what is a good painting and what isn't. There are clearly paintings in the world - in museums and galleries - that look like they were painted by a child, and yet they are highly regarded. Some of my readers have more education in this stuff than I do, and perhaps you can email me and explain how you think paintings are (or should) be evaluated. All I know right now is that I pretty much hate what I produce, and my understanding of what is and isn't good is threatened by the idea that paintings are judged substantially by what the art world is doing at the time they are created. How on earth does that make a painting good or not? Can there be any objective determination of whether a painting - or any other art object - is actually "good"? I am struggling with this, particularly in painting, where my own work is not up the few standards I know how to evaluate it with.



The Week In Review: Ceramics

The past week saw a lot of stuff going on in several classes, and there may be some images, so I am breaking things up into posts about each class this time around, just to keep things smaller. Skip whatever is uninteresting.

First off, Ceramics:

Last week I created a second slab built project (from an assignment called "Neo-Geo", as previously mentioned.) Sadly I don't have photos of that new build yet, but it's a version of the previous "rocket to Mars" thing, but this time in a square cross section (as opposed to the triangular one), so it's a bit larger overall, but not really taller.

As I write this, it's drying a bit, and this weekend - perhaps tomorrow morning - I will go into school again and cover much of it with white slip. With this project we have multiple glaze choices, and I plan on a turquoise glaze that looks better over white slip than over the terracotta red clay. At least in large measure that is my plan.

The reason for going in over the weekend is that I know we're doing the critique session on our coil built pots on Tuesday morning, and that will take much of the session, leaving not that much time to do any real work. Thus, I am trying to get ahead of the curve.

And speaking of my coil built pot, it's been both bisque and glaze fired, and here is a quick peek at the final results:



As you can see, some of the terracotta shows through the white. That - along with several other things - are not what I had originally anticipated for this piece, but then again this is the first thing I have actually fired in a very - very! - long time. (Since grade school, I think.)

I haven't brought the work home yet. Those photos were taken just after I helped unload the kiln, in fact. I'll try to get better photos once I get the work home.

Overall I am reasonably happy with it. Things changed from the original plan, but it's a fine result for my first cut at this. And I have learned a few things that I will work at with the Neo-Geo assignment, though I don't swear I will be able to improve everything. Hand built is still hand built.

The next post should be about Art History, but there was no class this week, and I've already mentioned my paper was submitted, so instead it will be about painting.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Vancouver Weather (Updated a day later)

It's wonderful. This was in the yard today, a couple of hours after I got home:


That's a pile of hail that collected off a spot in the roof where things come together.

It's cold enough that it had not all melted after quite a few hours. Mostly, though, it's just a bit rainy and cool. Quite nice, really. My kind of weather.

I know other places have it rough, but so far I am quite happy with Vancouver weather.

Update: about 12 hours later, here's what that pile of hail looked like:


Yes, it's a bit smaller, but it was still there. It survived overnight.

So, yeah... it's been pretty cool here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Another week gone


I didn't really mean to do these updates weekly, but it seems that is about the frequency at which I can manage them. And given that schedule, this one is a day late.

But, it's Canadian Thanksgiving today, that happy day when all the good Canadian children wake up early to see what presents were left under the Maple Tree by Hoppy the Moose, and then they all go eat waffles and ice cream for breakfast and go sit on a frozen lake and watch fireworks all day. (Note that in a recent update, the government changed the story, and now all the bad Canadian children are sent to America to work in call centres belonging to telephone companies instead of being given a lump of fossilized seal blubber. Apparently you really don't want to be a bad Canadian child.) At least, I think those are the traditions for most Canadians, but I might have it a bit off, still being new here and all.

As a result of this grand holiday - whatever the celebrations really are for most Canadians - we are getting together with friends for a vegetarian feast. It was almost a vegan feast, actually, but then down/up (depending on your POV) graded to just vegetarian for complicated reasons involving that fact that the vegans decided they were otherwise occupied today. (Hopefully not working for Verizon.)

But as it happens, the holiday isn't of much good to me in terms of giving me a break from the rigour of classes. That's because I have no classes on Monday. (Regular readers knew that already, and you can have an extra bite of ice cream this morning for being aware of it, and also because of the holiday.)

And yet, I have this pile of homework to do, so I have to work on it today, in addition to attending the vegetarian feast. So it's really not a day of rest for me.

Anyway, without further ado, let's do the week in review, shall we?

The attentive reader might recall that in ceramics we're doing a slab building project (called "Neo-Geo" for some reason). On Tuesday I rolled out my slabs and put them away for safe keeping. They need to be "leather hard" before you work them in this way, so you wrap them in plastic to keep them from drying out too fast. Well, I figured "Bad Things" (TM) would happen, so I checked them on Wednesday and some were already approaching too hard. I spritzed them with water and added damp newspaper to the mix, re-wrapped them, and crossed my fingers. Then on Thursday morning we got an email from the instructor saying her own slabs had been a bit too firm when she worked them in the demo, and it would be OK if we worked the project in advance, rather than waiting for this coming Tuesday (tomorrow). I took her up on that offer and stayed late on Thursday to create this:


We were told that our structure has to have a lid, so I made two:


It's kind of silly, I know, and it still needs some cleanup, but the only other guidance we were given was that it needs to be at least 12 inches in one dimension. And for some reason - probably having to do with US politics, which I still cannot avoid - I was thinking about rockets to Mars when I designed this. I have some slab left over, and if it isn't too dry I'll do something else with it in class. Maybe another one of these things, or one with a square cross section, rather than triangular.

Wednesday brought art history, where all we did was review and provide feedback on each other's draft papers for the class. My reviewers caught a couple of minor things in mine - and I thank them! - so I updated it at home on Wednesday night, finalized it on Friday, and emailed it to the instructor. We have no Art History class this week, as the instructor is off at a conference. And that turns out to be good because painting...

Painting class on Wednesday afternoon saw us doing life painting. In my case it saw me doing it very poorly. I am not happy with the results, and there are no pictures here as a result. For some reason I just wasn't feeling it much, and could not make the brush do what I wanted. This week's homework is a copy & enlargement project. The instructor gave us black & white copies of paintings and told us to grid them and then draw a similar grid on our canvas. Then we're to paint each little section separately to create a copy of the original. But, since the source is black & white, we're not worried about colour, just value. And he's hoping we learn about new ways to make marks on canvas with this. There weren't a lot of choices when I got to pick the painting I would copy, and what I have is incredibly complicated. I'm 7/16ths done with it now, and need to finish it by Wednesday afternoon. (That's more of my morning and evening, before and after the feast.) I'll probably share pictures of that in the next update. Maybe.

Design class on Thursday was interesting. This time around our assignment is to create a thing - we can loosely call it a sculpture - from wire that shows how an animal moves, but without showing the animal itself. We're given a supply of wire (used to tie rebar together in concrete structures) and a bit of MDF as a base, along with access to pliers and glue guns, and the shop to do a couple of things. Oh, we can use some bits of paper if desired, but he wants this to be an exercise in lines, not planes. Queue hand wringing on my part. Eventually I settled on something - a landing bird - and started working on it. I have no idea if I have done what he wants, but it is something. Oh, did I mention he also wants us to create and print an 11" by 17" idea sheet showing the images we used for inspiration in the creation of our work? In color? And that there are no printers I can find on campus capable of printing at that size without going to the print shop? And that I have never created anything like that before? Yeah. Well, Friday saw me finish the sculpture thing in the afternoon, and yesterday I spent all day at the computer, learning new tricks in The Gimp. Now I have a PDF of something that I hope will satisfy him, and I will ask the guy in the print shop to print it for me tomorrow, and we'll see what happens. Still no grades or pictures to share from this class. Maybe next week.

Finally there is drawing. Another session of life drawing this week (at which I was also bad) and a new homework assignment. This time we're drawing a mandala pattern (radially symmetric) of kitchen utensils on black paper, using chalk, but we're drawing the negative space, not the objects themselves. Despite my being unhappy with the ginger root drawing, I got another perfect score on it. (Alas I haven't photographed it yet. Maybe next week's update will include that.)

So, the homework this weekend includes (or included):
  • The copy painting - now 7/16ths done, and requiring something like 5-7 more hours at the current rate.
  • The design class idea sheet. Now done, and it took me about 8 hours. The sculpture was already done.
  • The kitchen utensil, negative space, drawing homework, which if it gets complicated could take 8 hours easily.
Yup. No shortage of things to do.

Oh, and I ran some errands and tried to get my haircut, but apparently another part of the Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is for all the men & boys to get their hair cut on the weekend before the actual holiday, so there was no room to even sit down at any of the barber shops I visited. I gave up and will suffer with the shaggy look at our feast today. I'm not all that worried, though. Hoppy already knows I am a bad child - the long hair just adds to my failures - so my future call centre job is assured.

I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving. Go enjoy your ice cream and fireworks!


Monday, October 2, 2017

Another week at school

Just a quick update about school this week.

In ceramics, we're planning our next project, and the first one goes into the kiln this coming Tuesday (tomorrow) I think. I spent hours building a couple of cardboard maquettes of possible next projects. We're doing slab building (as opposed to coil building) and I am going to try pushing the edges a bit harder this time. We'll see how that goes.

In art history, I've written my first college paper in well over 30 years. The first draft is due on Wednesday, and final version a week later. It's short and simple, but kind of fun. I might share it later, once I've done more editing passes at it, and seen what the instructor thinks.

In painting, we continue to paint. Last week we were told to "paint anything" but use a limited palate of mixed colors. I had no clue what to paint, so I went around the house and gathered some interesting objects, put them on a table, and viola... Still Life in the House of Jeff:


If you're really curious, here's a photo of the still life setup:


In there we have:
  • A light up Flamingo (Thanks to Gretchen for that!)
  • A bunch of bananas
  • A bottle of scotch (Talisker Storm, for those who care)
  • A Ryobi leaf blower
  • A dead Harmon Kardon A/V amplifer and remote (and yes, I am researching replacements for it... grumble)
My life is weird. Note that I didn't worry about the junk in the background at all. Just made it disappear. Poof.

We have homework this week too, and I have to finish that painting today. That one is a mash-up of things found in images and real life. I'm about half done with mine and really dislike it. Still, it's a thing, and there is possibly some interesting learning going on with this one that I might talk about later, if it sticks.

In design, we started sketching a random "thing" that we then built out of cardboard and hot glue. The point here - I think - was not the cardboard and hot glue, but to get these kids to think about sketches and drawings as a vehicle for showing what something will actually look like when it is made. I've done that before - a fair bit, actually - so for me it was just play time. Some of these folks, though, had clearly never thought about these issues in any significant way. One of these days I'll have pictures of stuff I've turned in from this class. Someday.

And finally, drawing class was canceled. The instructor was sick, and her email said she would send out the drawing homework on Saturday, but it's now Monday morning and I still have nothing on that. No clue when that will show up, or how much time I'll have to do that homework. Time will tell. And also no idea how my ginger root cross contour drawing will be graded either. Again, time will tell.

No other school news. I continue to have fun, which is great, but more importantly the ceramics maquette really started some interesting thought processes. I have ideas for new art I want to create when I have time, in stone and metal and clay. Some pieces are just in one of those media, while others are a mixture of two or even all three. No clue when I'll have time to work on them, but it's good to have new, really different ideas to work with.

Amusing photos

Here are a few pictures I've collected. I find them amusing.


This is the line at the Tim Horton's at Langara College early in the morning, around 8 am. This isn't even a "real" Tim Horton's, since they don't sell any hot food, just coffee related beverages and pastries clearly baked in some other location. It is pretty much always jammed, and what you can't see is the cattle pen inside the cafeteria there on the right where the line continues.

While I am happy to support Tim Horton's, I can't bring myself to stand in that line, so I skip coffee in the mornings at school.

Also, for the curious, there is a Starbucks in another building. It, too, has a line, but it is a fair bit more expensive and it's line is generally a bit shorter.

And, oddly, there is a Subway on campus too, but despite signage saying they sell breakfast sandwiches, they don't open until 10 am. What is the point of that? When I want eggs and bread in the morning, I'll want it well before then, thank you.

Next up:


That's a display in the 'A' building on campus at something before 8 am. I find it interesting that we're touting our "green thinking" and "energy management" by leaving a giant computer monitor on all night. I'm not sure if the lights in the display case are on all night too, but it's a good bet that monitor never gets turned off. Someone didn't get the memo.

And then:


That's a sign in a drugstore, somewhere in California. Somehow all three of those things seem related to me.

And finally:

That's a barricade put up by Santa Cruz County sometime in the winter of 2015/16, after a tree had fallen across our road and then been cleared. They dumped the big chunks into the ditch and put up that barricade to keep cars from hitting them. And then they forgot about it. For a year.


As the winter (and rainy season) of 2016/17 was approaching and nothing had been done about that mess, some local wag put up the sign reading "When Hell Freezes Over!!" and left it that way. I honestly have no clue who did that, and I laughed about it for a while. Then I emailed a copy of that photo to the county and suggested nicely that they might clean up last year's mess before there was a new mess this year. And, amazingly, they did so. But I still appreciate the sense of humor of whoever put up that sign.