The school year is quickly wrapping up right now. I finished classes at Wellesley last week and RISD has just two more weeks to go. I’ve been reading through the final self-critiques submitted from my students at Wellesley this week, it’s always a wonderful experience to read what they write. Below are some excerpts.
“I have learned to think more creatively about the world around me. “
“I learned a lot about working on something that seems simple – just putting marks on paper – but is actually incredibly complex. “
“You can always go further. “
“I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to. “
“I saw how much my life was enriched by my having drawing. “
“I have learned that it takes time in order to develop quality pieces. “
“This class has changed the way I look at things around me.”
“Abstraction and representation are not so different. “
“I can actually draw! I never thought that before.“
View this video of the exhibition “Calculated Risks” at the Davis Museum, shot and edited by Paul Falcone from WCAC-TV. The video features short interviews with several of the faculty artists in the show. I have a short interview towards the end of the segment.
(above) gallery installation; Phyllis McGibbon’s collages are on the right.
It’s been a busy week between classes at RISD and Wellesley kicking into high gear, but here are images of my work installed in the gallery at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College. The ceilings in the gallery are about 25′ tall, so it was wonderful to have this opportunity to create large drawings that I wouldn’t ordinarily have space to show. Each drawing is 10′ x 4′, with three layers of Dura-Lar, done in lithographic crayon.
(above) Gallery installation; Bunny Harvey’s paintings are on the right.
I had my last day in the studio for these three drawings which will be in the upcoming exhibition “Calculated Risks” at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College this fall. I didn’t work on the drawings for about a month, so today was my first time revisiting them since I finished the bulk of the work in June.
I told myself that I knew the drawings were finished if I found myself “picking” at the drawing. Sure enough, I made very minor changes here and there, but I knew about an hour into my studio session that I was done. After the work is installed into the space, I’ll take some time to revisit the work once more, except that I will be limited to working on the top layer. Being able to see the work in the gallery space will allow me to get much more distance from the work.
Working between the layers of the drawing.
The finished drawings, ready to be delivered to the Davis Museum next Wednesday afternoon.
I’ve been working with my colleague art historian Martha J. McNamara, who is writing an essay about my work for the catalog of the upcoming exhibition “Calculated Risks” at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College. We’ve had several conversations about my work and process, and she’s been able to visit me in the studio as I worked on these new drawings for the exhibition. Her essay is titled “Seeing Through the Figure”, and will be published in the exhibition catalog.
Yesterday afternoon I did a trial install for one of the crayon drawings in the Jewett Art Gallery at Wellesley College. The gallery is closed over the summer, which gave me the opportunity to install my work into the space; one of the more unusual perks of being the Gallery Director. Doing this trial install was really important; I had mistakenly thought previously that I had a concrete plan for the install at the Davis Museum, but this trial install got me to rethink to create a more fool-proof plan.
My first plan was to put 4 nails through all three sheets of Dura-Lar right into the wall. I punched holes in the Dura-Lar in advance of hanging the piece, but I quickly discovered how impossible it was to lift all three sheets together up onto the wall; the sheets kept slipping, and the large scale of the piece made it incredibly awkward, heavy, and difficult to manage while I was high up on a ladder. While I did eventually get a nail in the wall to hold the three sheets in place temporarily, I saw as I nailed in the other 3 nails that the three sheets were not perfectly aligned. One sheet was just a little too much to the left so that towards the bottom of the piece, the three sheets were not lined up with each other. Another consequence was that I didn’t get the drawing as high up on the wall as I wanted, and the result was that the bottom of the drawing touched the floor instead of being up on the wall. I didn’t take the time to correct the trial install; I knew the more important thing would be to get the distance from the piece and to rethink a better strategy for installation. Granted, I’ll have experienced staff at the Davis Museum to ultimately help with the install, but I wanted to have everything tested and thought through in advance to make things as smooth as possible.
I solicited advice from some of the other studio art faculty here at Wellesley: I talked to Phyllis McGibbon the other day about the possibility of having a thin strip of metal at the top of the piece to bolt the three sheets of Dura-Lar together, and got Carlos Dorrien to take a look at the piece while it was installed in the gallery. Carlos’ first reaction was that the drawing had a strong presence, and that the tall shape of the drawing suggested a door or portal into another world, which I liked very much and hadn’t thought about. He also made a strong connection with printmaking in terms of the way that the sanded surface creates a “burr” for the lithographic crayon to sit on top of.
Then, as I was walking to my car at the end of the day, a perfect, manageable solution came to me: I would hang each layer of Dura-Lar separately, and then nail them each on top of each other separately. In this way, I would be able to line up each layer with the previous one and be sure that they’re perfectly aligned with each other. This will make for many more holes in the drawing, but the nails are so small that they’re barely seen, especially from a distance.
A detail of the side of the drawing. The fact that the drawings are only attached at the top with nails allows the three layers of Dura-Lar to have a little bit of space between them. There is also a very slight shadow behind the drawing on the wall that I’d like to preserve.
“Crit Wall” is an open invitation to submit your artwork for feedback on my Facebook fan page. The idea is to create a place where you can get constructive suggestions on your artwork from a larger audience comprised of my current and past students. You can submit anything from a set of thumbnail sketches to a fully realized piece in any media.
TO SUBMIT: Post your image on my fan page wall, or email your image to me at clara[AT]claralieu[DOT]com. Be sure to provide a caption for your image: give us details on the piece like media/size, briefly explain what your intent/goals are, and any specific issues/questions that you’d like us to comment on. I will post your image in the photo album “Crit Wall” on my Facebook fan page, where you will be able to receive feedback from a wide audience.
For every image you submit, please make 2 comments on other works on “Crit Wall”. The more people who submit and comment, the more activity and feedback we’ll be able to generate together.
Classes ended this week at Wellesley College, where I taught Basic Two-Dimensional Design this past semester. At the end of the semester, I ask the students to fill out a final self-critique form which allows them the opportunity to stop and reflect upon their progress and development during the class. I’m continually surprised and inspired by their comments every semester despite the fact that the critique form has remained the same. Below are some excerpts.
I usually like to follow the rules and stay between the lines, but in this case I personally feel like I totally went haywire and allowed myself to go crazy.
You can’t rush art,and you never know how your project will actually end up.
I am now more likely to think about how a piece of art was made and what decisions went into doing so.
The end product of the final project was quite different from my initial sketch, but I like what resulted out of the process.
I have learned that what you think a project is going to be at the start is NEVER what it is going to be when it’s finished. But also, that this is a good thing.
I have learned that no plan is guaranteed.
I learned that we can be inspired by mistakes and accidents, and also from our peers.
Even if you’re not good at it (visual art), if you have a passion for it and are willing to work hard at it, you can make it work for you in the end.
This upcoming summer I will be teaching two visual arts courses at the 2010 Wellesley College Summer School: “Color” and “Drawing I“. The Summer School program is open to all college students, college graduates, as well as eligible commuting high school juniors and seniors. For more information or to register, visit the Wellesley College Summer School website.
COLOR, ARTS 210
June 14-July 9
This course attempts to demystify the study of color. Working with various two-dimensional media,we explore the characteristics and potentials of color through careful observation and comparison. In a series of interrelated exercises we examine and define hue, value, and intensity and the ways in which colors interact. Emphasis will be on cumulative studies, balancing an intellectual experience with the intuitive experimentation. For more information & to register, visit the Wellesley College Summer School website.
DRAWING I, ARTS 109
July 12-August 6
An introduction to the fundamentals of drawing with attention to the articulation of line, shape, form, gesture, perspective, and value. Studio work introduces a range of traditional drawing tools and observational methods while exploring a variety of approaches to image making and visual expression. In-class drawing exercises and weekly homework assignments address a range of subjects with brief attention given to the human figure. For more information & to register, visit the Wellesley College Summer School website.