Art Prof Pinterest: High School and College Level Student Studio Art Projects

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by Clara Lieu

Since 2009, I have maintained a crazy gigantic archive of student art projects on my Flickr page. Once I got started documenting all of the student art projects, the perfectionist side of me had to keep going, so it’s incredible how many images I’ve amassed over the years. When you have taught at numerous schools and programs for over a decade, and have had over a thousand students, that makes for tons of student artwork images! Good thing too, because these student artworks have been a priceless resource building all of the content needed for Art Prof.  (more soon, but our official site will be launching in a few months!)

My fabulous Teaching Assistants at RISD have spent countless hours photographing student artwork, tweaking all of the photos in Photoshop, and uploading/organizing all of these images student art projects for many years. Without their efforts and time, this archive could never exist!

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Seeing that few artists and art teachers are on Flickr, I recently revamped our Pinterest page as a new place for to view my student art projects. (I’ve organized all of the boards on our Pinterest page so that you can browse by level (high school & college) and also by subject matter. Boards have subjects like Linear Perspective, Drawings in Color, Sculpture, Printmaking, Painting, Narrative Drawings, and much more.

I hope our Pinterest page is a valuable resource for both art teachers and art students!  I know when I was a student, I learned tremendously from just seeing the artwork that my peers were creating, and seeing the incredible range of unique responses to every assignment.  That’s what I find so fascinating about teaching studio art-you could teach the exact same project 35 times, and every single time each student will create their own unique take on the assignment.

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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An Intersection of Drawing and Sculpture

One of the aspects of being an artist that I really enjoy is the surprises that occur within the creative process that you can never predict.  When I started this series of drawings of elderly figures, I never anticipated that these drawings would eventually become so sculptural. I have a lot of experience in figure modeling and casting, but I still consider myself to be largely an artist who works in two-dimensional media.  This project is an exception in that I’ve been able to combine sculptural qualities directly into the context of drawing.

Graphite Drawing on Tissue Paper by RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Fundamental Failing and the Artistic Process

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by Annie Irwin

My days making art are made up of a series of problems, which over time, I learn to avoid by trial and error. Or sometimes, I just fall flat on my face.

I find the artistic process to be no different. We learn to avoid problems only by bumping right into them. The uniqueness of any individual artistic process is how we troubleshoot. When I started art school, I was quickly frustrated by my lack of ability to find subjects in life to draw that truly interested me. I lacked control over what I wanted to make. My drawings of shells and plants were the results of as much inspiration as comes from a souvenir bag-o-shells in a coastal town gas station or a plastic houseplant with no context. The hours I spent sitting in front of houses that did and continue to actually inspire me, might well have warranted my arrest for loitering.

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Dilemmas happen every day in art making.  They are never a bad thing. Creative thinking is a means to work around these dilemmas.  Reframing your problem will allow you to approach it with new direction. By shifting perspectives you can flip your problem into a prompt. How can I draw what I have around me to create what I am inspired by conceptually?  

While this question lingered, for an assignment in drawing class, I was set on including a sock monkey in my drawing. The catch was, I didn’t have a sock monkey. I had to make it. To be perfectly honest, it was a Frankenstein monster made from paint-dyed socks, yarn and lace from the thrift store, and terrible embroidery. Monster grotesqueness aside, it was my monster, and I could control how the lighting would work, the space, and the context in which my bizarre sock creature could be drawn.

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That initial sock monkey was a turning point.  The physicality that I could apply in my drawing started before the canvas, and opened all of the doors I had seen as locked. These objects were essential in my artistic growth and contributed to my choice to pursue a degree in the medium of Textiles instead of Painting.   My new found practice fueled the concept for countless works, and inspired my entire undergraduate thesis. Today, the monkeys live on and are being sold as artist edition objects in Colorado. The artistic process calls for these moments, to encounter problems, while frustrating, is the most eye-opening thing that can happen. Fail faster, fail better, and troubleshoot!

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Crit Quickies #25 & #26

Check out Crit Quickie #25, featuring a figurative watercolor and gouache painting by @sxchii. Critique by Teaching Assistant Yves-Olivier Mandereau.

Here’s Crit Quickie #26, featuring a painting with a hand, key, and chain by @coop.y. Critique by Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch.


Crit Quickies are 1 min. audio critiques on the Art Prof Instagram. Submit! Post your art on Instagram w/ @art.prof, & #critquickie. Watch more Crit Quickies in this playlist on our Youtube channel.

We accept submissions from artists in 8th grade and up. Please know that due the volume of submissions, we are unable to provide a Crit Quickie for everyone who submits. If you’re an art teacher, you’re welcome to submit on behalf of your students!


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Crit Quickie #24

Check out Crit Quickie #24, featuring an acrylic painting installed as a ceiling tile by @aliciainunderland.  Critique by Teaching Assistant Casey Roonan.

Crit Quickies are 1 min. audio critiques on the Art Prof Instagram. Submit! Post your art on your Instagram w/ @art.prof, & #critquickie. Watch more Crit Quickies in this playlist on our Youtube channel.

We accept submissions from artists in 8th grade and up. If you’re an art teacher, you’re welcome to submit on behalf of your students!


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Drawing From a New Model

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by Clara Lieu

Last week I did a reference photo session with a new model.  Up until this point, I had only been working with Sheila, an artist model at RISD who has been a good friend for many years.

I really enjoy working with artist models, there’s an intimacy that occurs with your models that is unique. In general, when I work with models, I never tell them exactly how to pose. I’ll provide some basic ideas about what I want them to do, but I don’t give specifics about how to pose their figure. When I was in graduate school, I had this professor who was really obnoxious about demanding that the model pose precisely the way he wanted.  He would tell the model exactly how to orient or position pretty much every part of her body, and the result was always a really stiff pose that looked fake and awkward.

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With these drawings, I decided that I would give the models no direction at all.  Instead, I ask the model to stand and I talk to them during the photo shoot.  I want to capture the individual personalities of each model I work with, and it’s incredible how completely different the experience is with each person.

What was striking about this new model was her extraordinary range of facial expressions. As she talked, I was amazed that she would jump from a perky smile to a haggard, anguished look.  She told me all kinds of stories about her life during the photo session, and it was fascinating to watch her face change as her stories covered a wide range of emotions

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As I poured through the over 600 reference photos I shot, I was intrigued by the gigantic range of expressions.  What was engaging as well, was watching how the skin in her face pulled and stretched according to her facial expression.  The folds of skin were extremely dramatic, and I couldn’t wait to dig into some new drawings.

I shoot continuously during these photo sessions, so there is literally only half a second between most of the photos.  I found 2 consecutive photos that couldn’t have been more different.  The first photo was a very harrowing expression, which seemed tragic and pained.  The next photo was a warm, joyful smile. The way she could swing from one extreme emotion to the opposite side of the spectrum so quickly was really engaging to watch.

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I had this idea that I would work with these two photos, and layer them on top of the other to demonstrate the way she inhabited two such opposite emotions in such a short span of time. This drawing (below) is the first phase.  I’ll create the second drawing, and then create a few thumbnail sketches so I can figure out how to get the two drawings to interact through the layering and tearing of the paper.

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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September Art Dare Submissions!

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By Clara Lieu

We’ve gotten lots of submissions to our September Art Dare on our Instagram!  We’ve been very excited to see all of the unique ways that everyone has approached our prompt of drawing a self-portrait from life using charcoal. In many ways, the Art Dare is a virtual version of what I do in my classes at RISD, where everyone is asked to respond to the same prompt. That’s one of my favorite aspects of being in a class-you get to see all of the diverse creative solutions created by several people. Many of my students have told me that they learn just as much from seeing each other’s work, as they do from me.

One part of the Art Dare that has been really fun to watch is everyone’s works in progress. Below you can see Lucy Springall’s progress on her self-portrait.  Lucy has been following my charcoal drawing tutorial on the Art Prof Youtube channel.  She did a terrific job making thumbnail sketches to plan out her composition, (below photo, upper left) and implementing cross-hatching marks in with an eraser stick and charcoal pencil.

Remember, you get brownie points for using the techniques in our charcoal drawing tutorial!  If you tag your Art Dare with #artprofwip, Prof Clara Lieu just might stop by and provide some feedback! More info on Art Dare guidelines/prizes/tips are here.

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For fun, I decided that I would do the Art Dare myself!  I drew and painted a ridiculous number of self-portraits as an undergraduate student at RISD, largely because I only wanted to work from life and I was the most convenient subject. The last time I did an assignment, or drew a self-portrait was back in 1998.  Of course, so much has happened since then, and I was curious to know how I would respond to this prompt.

I think for many people self-portraits are a tough subject.  The process of creating a self-portrait demands that you look at yourself for an unusually long period of time. This deep observation of your own physical features also tends to prompt thinking about identity.

I figure out a lot of my ideas when I’m running on the treadmill, and this drawing was no exception. My thoughts meandered for a while, and for the first few concepts tended to revert back to themes I had worked with in my last studio project, Falling. Most of my projects take 2-4 years to create, so it felt strange to brainstorm what I knew would be a stand alone piece that wouldn’t be seen in the context of a large body of work.  I needed an idea that was simple enough to be contained in a single artwork, but that also had enough depth that there would be plenty to explore.

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My thumbnail sketches


I settled on the idea that in recent years, my life has felt very fragmented. Before I became a parent, I always had the luxury of long periods of time to myself, and to work on my artwork. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I get even 2 hours at a time to create artwork, much less think focus. I see my life today as a series of constant interruptions, it’s rare that I will sit down to do a task, and be able to comfortably complete what I set out to do.  I fell that I live in a constant state of distraction, making it incredibly difficult to think clearly most of the time.

In my initial thumbnail sketches, I explored compositions which emphasized faces that tilted away from the center of the page, and eyes with pupils that wandered to the side. decided that I would have one face that would make eye contact with the viewer, to represent those rare moments of clarity that I experience. The rest of the faces would be distracted and looking away.

I set up a mirror and sketched myself from life, to make sure that I was using views that would be possible for me to pose for as I few. As I sketched though, I realized that features like the neck and the shoulders weren’t necessary, so I reduced the composition to just facial features so that the eyes would be more prominent. I didn’t want to just sit down and draw myself, because even though our physical appearance is a big part of who we are, it’s certainly not everything. I’m still staying within the prompt, which was to simply draw a self-portrait from life in charcoal. I’ve heard many people complain that drawing from life is to limited, and that there’s “nothing to draw.”  I’d like to show in my self-portrait that if you really think about what you want to do and work thoroughly on your thumbnail sketches, the visual possibilities when working from life are endless.

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My reference thumbnail for the final drawing


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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