Art Prof in Artsy!

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Art Prof was featured in Artsy at the end of March! Nothing prepared us for how widely this article went; the article was shared over 488 times on Facebook and people were tweeting the article left and right.

It’s one thing to know that you firmly believe in your project, it’s yet another to convince a staff of people to on board with you.  Receiving positive press like this is one of the best forms of validation out there, it’s concrete evidence that other people are engaged with what you’re doing.

Press can be nerve wracking though, in that you never quite know exactly they’re going to write until you actually see the article published, but we couldn’t have been more pleased with the article. Alexxa Gotthardt, who wrote the article really captured the fundamental spirit of Art Prof, balanced out by charming details about out staff. (like Casey’s impersonation of Matthew McConaughey)

Apparently, when it rains, it pours, and we have more press for you on the way! Until then, enjoy this “argument” between me and Alex Rowe.  Stay tuned!

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2018 NAEA Conference

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I attended my first National Art Educators Association conference in Seattle, WA this past week! I have to admit that I was nervous, not only because I was giving a lecture on how to lead critiques in the classroom, but also because just flipping through the catalog of countless activities in 3 days was enough to make my head spin.

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Although I’ve given many lectures in the past, this one felt different.  For one thing, I had no clue how many people would show up for my lecture, maybe there would be 3 people in the audience which is just embarrassing, or maybe it would be jam packed which would make me excited but also incredibly nervous. However, the most nerve wracking part was knowing that I was going to be lecturing to a group of art teachers. Usually when I present, I’m lecturing to students, or a diverse mix of people.  The thought of lecturing to a room of people who know my profession inside out was pretty terrifying.

As I waited for the lecture to begin, I was amazed that a huge flood of people entered the room. Eventually, we had people sitting on every square inch of the floor, standing against every piece of wall space, and people peering in from the hallway trying to get in. (I’m sure this was totally a fire hazard) Some of the rooms had a microphone, and so of course, mine didn’t have one,  and the room was packed enough that I nearly had to shout in order to be heard.

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The lecture went well, I ended exactly at the determined 50 minutes, and afterwards I felt relieved and accomplished. Many people tell me that they write out their entire lecture and reference those notes while lecturing.  I’m different in that I show a slide with a word or a short phrase, and then just spontaneously make it up from there. I do the same thing when I shoot videos for Art Prof. When I write out what I want to say, it always feels forced and stiff.

After my lecture, the rest of the conference felt so fun and relaxing by comparison.  Between the exhibition hall which was packed with goodies from art supply manufacturers and retail stores and the gigantic range of lectures I could go to, I felt like a kid in a candy store.

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Certainly one of the highlights of the conference was meeting other art teachers I have interacted with online in person.  I had dumplings and gelato with Cindy Ingram, Phyllis Levine Brown, and spoke to Joy Schultz for a brief moment, and met up with Rachel Simpson. I always had this idea in mind that meeting people in person after interacting for over a year online would be awkward, but we had so much in common that I felt like a martian who landed on a planet full of other martians. We could talk about nerdy art topics like how a retailer discontinued a specific brand of paper mache art paste, and how certain brands got moldy while others didn’t. Many of the teachers I met also run their own websites and blogs so we were able to connect about engaging with our readers as well as the business side of running online resources.

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The exhibition hall was loads of fun, I got to meet representatives from companies like GelliArts, Copic Markers, Amaco, Strathmore.  Some of the people I met were actually people I have corresponded with in the past, and it was wonderful to have this rare chance to speak to them in person, it solidifies your relationship in a way that email cannot.

I’m usually really skeptical about new art supplies; so many are gimmicky and really not that useful, which is why I was really surprised to meet Angie and Phil at the new company Clay House Art. Their company started in November 2017 and they focus exclusively on air dry clay. All of the air dry clay that I’ve used in the past is a nightmare: the clay is sticky and gross to model with, and once the clay dries, it’s incredibly heavy, smells weird, and has any ugly surface. It’s the one type of clay that I refuse to use and avoid like the plague.

Clay House art had a really fun variety of clays: clays that replicated the look of stone, some that looked like cookie dough, resin clay which looked a lot like oven baked clay, and even a clay that looked just like terracotta clay. What was impressive is that their clay had really lovely, smooth surfaces after drying.  Touching the clay, I could tell it would be smooth and easy to model with, and the clays even had a wide range of weights. The cream clay was super lightweight while the terracotta clay had a heavier presence that seemed appropriate for the look at of the clay.

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I have always wanted to produce a figure modeling course for Art Prof, but the issues were that I couldn’t use ceramic clay because most people don’t have access to a kiln, and plastilene is annoying because it’s not a permanent material.  For a plastilene sculpture to be permanent, you would need to create a silicone or waste mold and cast it in another material like resin or plaster. So discovering Clay House Art’s terracotta clay seemed like the perfect solution to this problem. I left Phil and Angie’s booth super excited about the possibilities.

I even managed to fit in some quick sketches here and there with my Tombow brush pens during a few of the sessions.

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I came back home feeling rejuvenated, inspired and thrilled to implement everything I learned at the conference into both Art Prof, my teaching practice at RISD, and my own studio work.  Thank you NAEA for such a terrific experience!

 

A Mainstream Audience for Artprof.org?

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Sometimes when I doubt myself, one activity that is guaranteed to always lift me up is reading the scores of testimonials from people who use Artprof.org. When I was researching early on to see what kinds of art education sites were available, one aspect that I definitely took note of was the types of comments and reactions that people had to various types of content.  There are tons of YouTube channels with art instruction, and I noted that many of the YouTube comments generally were either one word exclamations, “Cool!” or sentences that had three words or less: “So cool!”


Which is why when I read the reactions from our users, I know that we are definitely doing something noticeably different. In fact, the reactions from my Taiwan brush pen video are even more unique in that so many come from people who are not artists.  Our other video lessons tend to be aimed more towards people who want really specific instruction and intend to take that instruction and act upon it in their own work.

That’s why I think this Taiwan video (watch it below) is a major milestone for us. The content is immensely more diverse both in terms of the visuals and the content, making the video much more like a personal narrative and has the potential to become mainstream.  Our other video lessons are still just as important to me, but they’re definitely much more niche and targeted towards a specific demographic of people.

Here are some of the reactions we’ve gotten from the Taiwan video:

“Even though I’m not an artist, I really enjoy your videos. The narrative is so interesting and informative! Great work and I can’t wait to see the next one!”

“Clara’s view of the world with an artist view is so much more detailed than my non-artistic view!”

“It is very engaging video. I felt like taking up sketching just from watching!”

“Lovely well produced video. I wanna get a brush pen!”

“Now I’m hungry for dumplings after watching the video.”

Happy Birthday Artprof.org!


We celebrated the one year anniversary of Artprof.org last week!  Hard to believe that it’s only been one year; Art Prof started as a one paragraph blog post way back in 2014 so I have to remind myself that technically speaking, the site really hasn’t been around for that long!

There are so many aspects to running the site on a daily basis that most days I feel like it’s a continuous game of whack-a-mole that I’m playing. However, we are moving into our second year armed with three partnerships that are really exciting:  Fredrix canvas, Tombow, and our digital partner, Cantina. So much of starting a project like this from scratch is trying to convince people that what you’re doing is worthwhile and that they should join your journey.

As the site grows every day, I’m proud that our content keeps evolving for the better. The first course posted on the site was a Drawing with Crayons course, and while I still think that course has it’s own merits, it’s a far cry from the Brush Pens in Taiwan course and the two person courses we’ve been producing like this Balsa Wood carving course below.

It can be really challenging to be constantly experimenting with different formats for the courses, as there’s a lack of stability that accompanies that approach, but it’s also incredibly exciting at the same time. Every time we make plans to shoot a new course, such as the upcoming Digital Illustration and Oil vs. Acrylic course, and we start talking through the logistics, I feel exhilarated by the possibilities and the opportunity to explore ways to present the content.

Art Prof has been so exhilarating to work on that I wake up everyday with a powerful drive to tackle what at times feels like 5 billion tasks that need to be done, but I thrive and flourish with that drive. I’ll admit that my fine arts career has really been neglected for some time now for that reason; I mean, I haven’t lifted a finger really to get into exhibitions and push my career forward the way I used to.

Ironically, that’s when major career landmarks started happening.  I was invited to show in a 4 person exhibition, “March Four Women,” at Boston City Hall which goes up this week and to my tremendous surprise, I was awarded an artist fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. I’ve applied to this artist fellowship every year I’ve been eligible (the categories alternate years) since 1998, so I was in complete disbelief when I got the phone call.

I used to obsess over every detail of my fine arts career, probably to a degree that verged on unhealthy, and it’s such a relief to have a project I am so excited about that those emotions have completely disappeared from my head. When I do make some work on occasionally, it’s almost always influenced by what we’re working on at Art Prof.  I haven’t picked up a paint brush to oil paint in over 12 years, and yet shooting the Oil vs. Acrylic course made me want to paint again.  (I seriously thought painting and I were OVER.) I got out an old canvas that has done nothing but sit in my garage for many years, and starting painting over it.

In a field that can be so unstable, unpredictable and nervewracking, I think I’ve finally found the balance and positive energy I’ve been searching for, for as long as I can remember. Looking forward to what the next year has in store for Art Prof!

Brush Pens in Taiwan

 

I’m thrilled to release my Tombow brush pen course on sketching in Taiwan!  I’ve been working on Artprof.org since 2014, and to say that our videos have evolved would be a severe understatement. Out of all the videos we’ve produced, this is one is hands down my personal favorite.  This course has all of my favorite things in the world:  drawing, food, culture, and travel!

Shooting the tutorial was the most chaotic, bare bones production I’ve ever done.  I traveled with my husband, 2 kids, and my parents throughout Taiwan and trying to find moments to draw, much less set up a camera to shoot was not easy!  Despite the almost complete lack of a production crew on this trip, (it was either it was me with a tripod by myself, or my husband doing a few minutes of hand held when we could squeeze it in) it was the most fun I’ve had in my life!

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Goodbye China (for now!)

I’m flying back to the US this evening, but I did manage to squeeze in a few hours in this morning at the Yu Garden in Shanghai. In addition to stunning buildings, there were unusual rock formations and a diverse range of plants, trees, and bushes. As always though, I was most attracted to little moments in the architecture, like these dragons who were “eating” then building, and these brooms leaning against the wall that I noticed.

There are dragons and stone lions all over China, and I had been wanting to draw one ever since I arrived. However, most of the stone lions are ones that were carved in modern times, and were usually found in front of hotels. I had yet to stumble upon one that truly had some history behind until today.

Unfortunately the one day I had in Shanghai to go out as the one day it was raining/snowing! Despite my freezing fingers and the damp conditions, I still managed to do this quick brush pen drawing of this stone lion.

This was a truly amazing trip, so many wonderful memories and experiences, I can’t wait to come back!

Sketching & Lecturing in Chengdu

I am finding that when I’m walking around a city, searching for something to draw, I have no interest in drawing monumental landmarks or the quintessential tourist attraction. There’s something generic about drawing the most obvious subject when you arrive in a city that I don’t like.

Instead, I really enjoy drawing scenes that I discover that are on a much smaller scale, like this local vendor who was selling bags of peppers, garlic, and spices.  I’m attracted to the vast array of diverse shapes and textures, seeing the bulbous pieces of garlic through the pink plastic bad they sat within. Those bags, with the sheen of the plastic juice bottles on top were a terrific contrast against each other. I loved the sheets of crinkled newspaper that were hanging out of the green bins of oranges. As an artist, you can’t ask for more than that.

I don’t have much time to devote to drawing on this trip, the school (PS One Portfolio School) is keeping me busy with lectures and drawing workshops in 3 cities: Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. I presented to a large audience yesterday in Chengdu for prospective parents and students at their open house event.