Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Art School, Week 14

Another week, another post:

I continue to suggest you follow me over on Medium if that interests you. Commenting works much better there, since this week I discovered that even I couldn't reply to a comment on my own post. Nice job, google. Blogger appears to be dying the slow death, so I'll be moving on at some point, and these notes here will stop.

You can find me at Medium here:


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Art School, Week 13

Hi All,

I published this yesterday, but forgot to put the link here. Sorry about that.

I strongly suggest you email me (or use this contact page) and ask me to add you to my email announcement list about future posts, or use an RSS reader and connect it to my feed on Medium, which I am told it supports. I say that because I will stop updating this blog one of these days, and if you're one who wants to keep reading what I am writing, those are the obvious ways to keep in contact.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Art School Week 11

My test of another blogging platform continues. The post about Art School Week 11 can be found over here:

If the move to Medium sticks I'll stop posting things here, but for now it seems reasonable to keep cross linking.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Another new post on a different platform

So far the reaction to moving to Medium - instead of posting here - is positive. It will continue, at least for now.

Those wanting to find the latest post (as of today, Nov 11, 2017) can see it here:

And those wanting to see all I have posted over there can try this link:

If you use and RSS reader, I am told Medium supports that as well.

As always, comments are welcome, both on the post itself, and via email.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

New Post in a new place

Hi All,

I know this might be a surprise, but I am looking into moving this blog off of blogger. As part of that effort I've put the next Art School post up on Medium. Here's a link:

Art School, Week 9

Please let me know what you think about that platform. Blogger seems to be less than fully supported these days, and definitely has comment problems. I figured trying something new was a good idea.

If it works out, I'll move things over there permanently. If not, I'll keep looking.

Please let me know what you think!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Art School Week 8: The Time Is Flying By

Another "week in review" post. I wonder if the format of these is getting stale. Still, I don't think I have enough to break things up into per-class posts this time around. I'll do my best to keep it interesting but there are no promises.

First off, ceramics:

We bisque fired our slab built projects, and though I have seen mine, but I didn't get photos of it yet. I am pleased with the slip application, at least. The white is opaque - not showing the terracotta through it - and the black stripe looks good too. The wonky angles still bug me, but I am certain if I was making more things like this I would get better at it. Two clay projects do not an expert make.

We also started throwing on the wheel. We're using 1.5 to 2 pounds of a white clay. I think I tried it 4 or 5 times last Tuesday and had reasonable success for someone who has never done it. Getting the clay centred is a pain. And there are many other ways to mess up a simple cylinder. Today (Sunday) I went in and did some more practising. I tried several times and had a few disasters, two that didn't fail but were not great, and one that was barely "meh". Or that's how I recall it anyway. Here's a picture of the one the best one, cut open so I can examine wall thickness:

Not too bad, really. Still a long way to go, but I am willing to put in the effort. Also note that we are not yet saving anything. It's throw a cylinder, then recycle the clay and try again. There will be more practising on Tuesday, I believe, and we're going to glaze our slab projects so they are ready to fire at some point soon.

Then came art history on Wednesday, in which we took the mid term exam. I don't have results from that yet, nor a grade on my paper. The instructor has a huge stack of stuff to grade, so perhaps I will get it back this week.

Painting - also on Wednesday - saw us doing life painting again. I think I did a bit better this time around. Some of the stuff I produced was awful, but some was ok(ish). Here's the best of the day:

That's not terrible, even if her nose is way too big. Next week we start in on some long term painting project that takes us to the end of the semester. No clue what it involves yet. Also, for those who are really interested, a question I posed to Giselle Lawson turned into a very interesting discussion over on Facebook about painting and how to evaluate the quality of such. Quite enlightening. If you know Giselle, check out her posts there to find it.

Also on the painting class, I give you pictures of the Buffalo Lounge, which is a central open area in the middle of all the fine and performing arts classrooms. This week the painting instructor has a huge selection of paintings up from his various classes. I am astounded to admit that there are four from me in there. Two definitely should not be there, one of which I have never published a picture of because it is so bad. My intent was to gesso over it but the instructor grabbed it from my storage space without telling me. Maybe it's intended as an example to others: don't do this. I dunno. But it's on the wall, and I am not pointing it out. Anyway, here are some shots of the exhibit overall:

At least one of those is a bit blurry. Sorry. Didn't note that when I took the picture yesterday.

Thursday's design class had us all working on our "bug based" pavilion models. After all of class plus a bit of time after, and four more hours today, I'm done. Here's what the table I was working at today looked like:

Quite a mess, and what can't be pictured is my phone playing a constant stream of songs by the Dresden Dolls to keep me moving. Here's a picture of the stuff I've made for the assignment before it gets turned in:

The presentation for this will be fun, actually. I might have mentioned before that I was planning to do something relating to fireflies for this assignment, but in the end I gave up on that idea. Everything I was thinking was too complicated or didn't work at all. The new concept is wings. The idea is that the pavilion is a set of large sculptures (four shown above) that detail the differences between the many kinds of insect wings, giving the garden a chance to explain the evolution of insect wings, and show their differences in great detail. I also added an entrance marker (the thing in the front, centre) and some people for scale. (Yes, these are really big, as proposed.) Of course this is just a project, and the local gardens won't build anything for anyone, but it's kind of fun. Next we we get to present these things to the class as if we're presenting to the garden staff. Should be entertaining.

And finally there was drawing class on Friday, were we turned in an interior drawing in 1 point perspective. Here's mine:

I didn't get a perfect score on it because my line quality sucks. We were told to finish it with a sharpie, and I did that. But sharpie and ruler is a lousy combination, so I used it freehand, and the resulting lines have some wiggle because I couldn't bear down on them without turning things into a huge blort of ink. Still, an OK grade, and life goes on. Next we we're doing in interior 2 point perspective and I have some pens now that will work with a ruler, so that should be better. I hope. The ocean map on the floor is the "something weird" we were supposed to add to the drawing. And yes, this is a bit of the interior of the house we are renting. It's not as big as that image would suggest, though. We were instructed to leave out the furniture if it didn't line up with the same vanishing point, and you can't see the mountain of boxes behind the viewpoint from which that image was drawn.

In addition to all of that, I took a big English test on Saturday, which kept me busy for several hours. It is part of proving to the Canadian Government that I am fluent in English. It was pretty funny, really, and a huge waste of time in a number of ways, but it had to get done.

Amusingly, while waiting to register to take the test, I found this:

By way of explanation, I took the test in Richmond, which has a huge Chinese population. There are all kinds of businesses in town that have no English on their signs at all, just Chinese characters. The test was given in a set of rooms that belongs to a tutoring/teaching business that caters to parents wanting to get their kids into elite colleges. It's in an odd mall in town, full of Chinese only businesses, including several tutoring schools. (I wonder if the trinket shop and the book shop I saw on the 6th floor are really legit, or instead are fronts for something else. I can't imagine a lot of customers take the elevator to that floor to buy Chinese trinkets. But I digress.)

Anyway, I took that photo while pacing around. I found it funny to see the obviously stock photo of the white student - too old to be a high school student, but maybe a late college student? - on an ad covered in Chinese. As you can see, the only non-English on there are 2 URLs and the string "VIP" in the middle of something in Chinese. I tried to translate it with my phone, but I didn't have the Chinese translation dictionary installed and didn't want to download it over the air. I did check out the QR code, though, and found it was a link to a Chinese chat app's entry in the Google Play store. Maybe if I had the app installed it would have taken me to something deeper, but I didn't, so that's what came up.

I admit to being amused by little things, but that ad did make me chuckle. And I need it they didn't start registering us until 30 minutes after the appointed time.

All of the above - class & test - was accomplished after being flat-on-my-back sick last Monday. Not fun, and I am still recovering from the cold. Mostly now all I have is a sporadically runny nose and occasional cough. Energy levels are creeping back up towards normal.

Finally, I've had requests for more dog photos, and there are those in California who might wonder what the weather is like up here vs. down there.  On the latter, it's pretty cool. I think we were down to 2° C this morning. It's sunny right now, but rains regularly - perhaps every three or four days. The locals all tell me that a time will come when it rains for a month, but so far I have my doubts. There was a prediction of mixed precipitation that would include snow for a couple of days from now, but that's dropped back to just rain, last I checked. So nothing like California weather, and it makes me very happy.

Oh, and it's Fall, so the trees are turning colours and dropping their leaves. Back at our old place in CA that happened in about August. OK, I exaggerate a bit, but the buckeyes did that, and the maple started then. The fruit trees waited a bit longer. Nothing else changed, though. The oaks & redwoods keep their leaves all year round, so Fall doesn't mean much, at least not visually.

As for dog pictures, I don't have anything new this month, but I'll try to get some next time around, assuming I remember. Being at school so much I don't take a lot of pictures of them. But maybe Anne will have some.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Comments Are On, I Think.

Not a lot of feedback to the previous unannounced post yet, but I did get some (thank you!) and I think I have comments turned on the way I want them.

With luck, all comments are moderated (to avoid spam and rude content, as judged by me) and you do not have to have a G+ account top post a comment.

If you see something different, please let me know!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Unannounced Post

I am sick - really sick - and it's no fun. I've spent the entire day doing nothing. I hate that.

But I am also pondering things, and I wonder...

Should I turn on comments here again? I have more readers than I expect, and very few of you email me. If I turned on comments, would you use them? They would be moderated somehow, of course, but I can figure that out.

You can tell me your opinion about that by emailing me. Use this link: send email to Jeff if you don't know my email address. Also note that if you read that page at the bottom is basically tells you my email address.

Next, I am wondering if Canadian colds are much worse than American colds. Thoughts? This is nasty, and I am startled by the virulence with which it hit me. We used to joke about things in Alaska always being bigger or tougher because of how far north it is. That doesn't really apply to Vancouver. We're not that far north.

So, maybe Canadian colds are nastier to make up for the overall niceness of Canadians themselves? Seems odd to think a microbe of some kind could do that, but who know. (Or maybe I am delusional with the fever.)

Finally I want to thank a few people (anonymously) who have spoken with or emailed me recently about this blog. They seem to appreciate it a great deal, and I am happy to hear that. Your feedback matters - and helps - and that's part of the reason I am pondering opening up comments again.

Anyway, I will continue to do mostly nothing tonight while I hope this disease passes quickly. Not that it arrived quickly... onset was Friday night. But if it goes away quickly, that would be good.

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 plan 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.