Art Critique for Carol Haggerty’s Art Class

We were thrilled to award the Art Teacher’s prize for the September Art Dare to Carol Haggerty, who teaches at Millis High School. The Art Teacher’s prize allows each student in the class to submit an artwork of their choice for a 1 minute video critique from Prof Clara Lieu.  Watch Carol’s class video critique above.  If you are an artist or an art teacher, consider submitting to our December Art Dare!

We were really impressed with the way Carol’s students experimented and pushed themselves with charcoal.  You can see below that each student developed their own visual language for drawing with charcoal, and the excellent results they got. Below you can see several of the charcoal self-portraits that students in Carol’s class created in response to the Art Dare.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter hit its $30k goal on July 19, 2016.  Get info on our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories, and post select submissions on our Instagram  and other sites throughout the month. Use #artprofwip and Prof Clara Lieu might just stop by and give you some feedback! We have a special video critique prize for art teachers who assign the Art Dare to one of their classes. More info is here.

When You Have No Words, Speak with Art

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by Clara Lieu

(first published on the Huffington Post on 12/2/16)

As a professional visual artist, all of the artwork I’ve created in my life is about as far away from politics as you can get. Not once in my entire career, or even as an art student, have I ever had any remote desire to address politics in my artwork. I once received an assignment in art school to illustrate a newspaper headline. I remember that I intentionally chose a headline that had nothing to do with politics. I had zero interest in talking about politics in my art and did everything I could to avoid it.

This year’s presidential election completely changed that. The election results left me in utter shock. I spent the day after the election reading a flood of emotionally charged statements and messages from my friends and family. I wanted to contribute, but every time I sat down to write, I simply had no words.

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Kathe Kollwitz, Outbreak, 1903


Recently, it occurred to me that many of my personal favorites from art history depict difficult, and often times violent political events: Kathe Kollwitz’s print Outbreak, Picasso’s epic Guernica, Leon Golub’s painting Interrogation II, Goya’s painting The Executions to name a few.

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Francisco Goya, The Executions,1814


I know these specific artworks like the back of my hand. For years, I’ve analyzed their color schemes, deconstructed their layout and backgrounds, examined individual brush strokes up close in person, and more. Revisiting these artworks after the election, I realized that despite my comprehensive, formal understanding of these works as art, I really had no clue what pushed these artists to create these startling images.

Now, I completely understand where those artists found their motivation. For the first time in my life, I feel an intense urgency inside me that desperately wants to make art about events that are unfolding every day. I can’t just move on with my life and pretend that everything will be fine. Otherwise, I am just a bystander.

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Leon Golub,  Interrogation II, 1981


Despite my surge of desire to create political art, deep down I’m petrified to start. Most of my past artwork has been about personal experiences. The intrinsic nature of personal narratives is that they are experienced by only the artist, and therefore generally do not invite contentious public reactions. By contrast, political art inevitably invites intense scrutiny from the audience. Political art is frequently charged and startling, and easily elicits heated emotional reactions in a way that a still life painting of apples never will. For me, if I get up tomorrow and paint apples, that means I’m saying that everything is fine. If there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that nothing is fine right now.

I couldn’t agree more when people state that “words matter.” I would add that images matter just as much, and that art has always been a powerful means of communication that can resonate for centuries. This presidential election has galvanized me to make political art. The next time I step into my studio to work, it will be with a new sense of purpose.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter hit its $30k goal on July 19, 2016.  Get info on our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories, and post select submissions on our Instagram  and other sites throughout the month. Use #artprofwip and Prof Clara Lieu might just stop by and give you some feedback! We have a special prize for art teachers who assign the Art Dare to one of their classes. More info is here.

Enter the December Art Dare!

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“My 2016”
Create an artwork about what 2016 was for you, in any 2D media.
Your piece can be about a subject that didn’t directly happen to you, or it can be about a personal experience.


Below are topics if you want a place to start:
a change  •  a new person  • a new place  •  a success  •  an event  •  a death  •  a celebration  •  a failure  •  use the text “2016” in your image


To Submit
Post your artwork on Instagram, tag us @art.prof  w/ #artprofdare.
Or, post your artwork on our Facebook page.

Use #artprofwip, and Prof Clara Lieu might drop by and give feedback on your in progress artwork. We feature submissions on our Instagram and Facebook page during the month!

Submissions close Sat., Dec. 31 @ 11:59pm EST
Questions?  Comment below or Email us.


Artist Prizes
We award prizes in categories based on the submissions we receive. In the past, prizes we’ve given have included “Tremendous Improvement,” “Innovative Brainstorming,” and Honorable Mentions. The prize winners receive a hand-pulled mezzotint by Prof Lieu, (value $200) and a 10 min. video critique on 3-5 artworks from Prof Lieu.  Honorable mention winners will receive an Art Prof sticker set.

029     Dessery Dai, Art School Admissions Art Portfolio Art Prof art supply stickers designed by Janice Chun


Art Teacher’s Prize
Art Teachers: assign this Art Dare to one of your classes! One class will win a large Art Prof sticker for each student, and a class video critique from Prof Lieu. (watch below) In the class video critique, each student will receive a 1 minute critique on an artwork of their choice. Limit of 25 students. Grades 8 and up are eligible to enter.

Submission Guidelines for Art Teachers
If you have an Instagram for your classroom, you can post your students’ artwork there. Encourage your students to post their submissions on their own accounts as well! For each submission, tag us @art.prof w/ #artprofdare. Use #artprofwip, and Prof Lieu might drop by and give feedback to your students!

Your official class submission must be done via DropBox or Google Drive.  Place your students’ artworks in a folder, and then share the folder to Prof Lieu‘s email.

To be eligible for a prize, your artwork must be created specifically for this Art Dare, and must follow all guidelines.


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How Do You Begin to Think Conceptually as a Visual Artist?
How Do Visual Artists Manage To Get their Soul Out into Images?


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter hit its $30k goal on July 19, 2016.  Get info on our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Art Prof Etsy shop is OPEN!

Caution:  Art Prof sticker, designed by Olivia Hunter

Check out the new Art Prof Etsy shop!  You’ll find fun items like stickers and T-shirts designed by Janice Chun, Casey Roonan, and Olivia Hunter. All sales will go towards funding our mission to provide a free visual arts education for people of all ages and means.

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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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New Crit Quickies!

Crit Quickie featuring a watercolor painting by Tim van Iersal. Critique by Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch.


Crit Quickie, featuring a line drawing portrait by @mandaism. Critique by Teaching Assistant Alex Rowe.


Crit Quickie, featuring a painting of a vase of flowers by Ana-Maria Musat. Critique by Teaching Assistant Annie Irwin.


Crit Quickie, featuring a portrait painting by @panxsolajes.art. Critique by Teaching Assistant Annie Irwin.


Crit Quickies are 1 min. critiques by the Art Prof staff.  Submit! Post your art on Instagram and tag us @art.prof w/ #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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#scarsthatspeak

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by Clara Lieu

The dramatic realization of why I’m making these drawings keeps pushing further every day. I feel a tremendous urgency about creating this work, that I have never experienced before. The emotions from the results of the US election still feel raw in this moment.

I’ve been far too busy with teaching my courses at RISD lately to actually start new drawings from scratch.  This is actually perfect timing because right now, I just need space to think about what these drawings are really about.

I felt awful when I realized how shallow my initial approach was to these drawings of elderly figures.  I let myself fall into the trap of the most cliche themes associated with the elderly:  aging and my own fear of mortality. I let myself get seduced by the visual aesthetic of the elderly figure, I was so enthralled by the physical forms of aging skin that I didn’t think to really consider who these people really were.  I was seeing the elderly figures just as captivating forms that were engaging to draw, but not much else.

I hadn’t taken the time to consider the unique personal histories which are so deeply embedded in each of the women who modeled for these drawings. Which now in retrospect seems so ridiculous: when I photographed the women to create reference photos for these drawings, I spent over an hour just listening to them speak to me about their lives. I was too busy shooting photographs to hold up my end of a conversation, so I just listened to them. All three women told me in their own way about their physical and emotional scars from their past.

So that’s what this project is about: #scarsthatspeak.  In an elderly face, every wrinkle and piece of flesh has a story. I want to show the “scars”that the older generation of women walk with every day.

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I was nervous about making artwork that is even remotely political. All of my previous projects, such as Falling, were entirely based on my personal experience.  When your artwork is about an experience you know so intimately, there’s an inherent confidence in the subject matter because you know your subject inside out.  For me to create artwork about a subject that I have no direct experience with is very intimidating. I worry that I might accidentally misrepresent my subject, or worse yet, present a shallow interpretation that misses the point. I was really hesitant, but then artist Michelle Friars wrote this on my Instagram feed:

“As an older woman artist, I am especially drawn to your latest series. When previously you talked about the work in terms of decay, I admit to being a bit dismayed. But this… this understanding is exciting. I started in art school as a young woman in the 70’s, but left because of the sexual harassment of a professor I had to work with. Took me until I was sixty to finally go back. These scarred, beautiful images of strength truly resonate. Thank you.”

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These drawings will focus on the “scars” of the older generation of women, but simultaneously, these drawings are also a proud acknowledgement of their quiet strength and powerful resilience.  One of my former students, Amelia Rozear, had this to say about the potential of these drawings to make an impact on the younger generations:

“I think these drawings will be very helpful to people, especially girls and women, who are very scared right now, and might help them feel better about the future knowing how women have been strong before.”

I didn’t want to feel that I was “leaving out” the younger generation of women, who most certainly have their own scars as well.  So Amelia’s comment made me realize that these drawings are actually for every generation.

Keeping in mind this balance of scars/strength, I’ve been experimenting with making these drawings much more sculptural, almost to the point of becoming installations.  Although the drawings are ripped and torn, they are also rising from the shreds of tissue paper.

I am well aware that I’m not even close to truly understanding what these scars really mean, or even to what extent their emotional depth is.  However, I do know that I am excited about all of the research, digging, and investigation that lies ahead of me. I’m ready to hear from these women.


Related Video


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Generations of Women and the Scars They Walk With
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter hit its $30k goal on July 19, 2016.  Get info on our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Generations of Women and the Scars They Walk With

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by Clara Lieu

For the past few months, I’ve been making graphite drawings on tissue paper of elderly figures. (see above) Unlike my past projects, I had no idea what these drawings were about as I created them.  I thought that if I worked on these drawings long enough, their purpose would eventually emerge.  I was right.

I haven’t written anything in reaction to the U.S. presidential election results because I felt paralyzed and helpless.  However, as a visual artist, I can speak with images when I have no words.

Over the past week, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the generations of women who came before me: what they have seen, what they have heard in previous decades.

An older friend of mine told me that she couldn’t watch the TV show Mad Men because the blatant misogyny portrayed on the show was exactly she actually experienced in real life.

My older sister told me that she recently read the book Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. My sister told me that she had no idea the shocking obstacles Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor had to confront in their careers because of their gender.

Last year, I read A Fighting Chance, Elizabeth Warren’s autobiography. She worked so hard under extremely trying circumstances to earn a college scholarship, but then left college to get married.  During that time period, that’s what women were expected to do.

Then last week, I watched Hillary Clinton put herself together after a crushing defeat and give a concession speech with utmost class, respect, and grace.

Despite their scars, these women got back up, stood up, and kept walking.

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I didn’t plan the gender of the figures in my elderly drawings in advance. Perhaps not coincidentally, all of the elderly figures I’ve drawn so far have been women.

After the election, I looked at my drawings with a different set of eyes.

I realized that the physical tears in my drawings are not about the physical frailty of old age as I initially thought they were. The drawings are not about my fear of mortality, or about the deterioration of the human body in the last stages of life.

The rips in my drawings are the scars that older women walk with every day. Generations of women have been torn to shreds, marginalized, in more ways than I can fathom. Through my drawings, I want to show that despite these harrowing experiences, these women still put themselves back together and kept walking forward. I hope in this time of unrest and uncertainty, that I can be as strong as they are, and that I can teach my two daughters to do the same.

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I have always felt that throughout history, art is an inherent reaction to cultural and historical context.   Kathe Kollwitz’s works were a direct response to World Word II, Leon Golub’s paintings were his reactions to the Vietnam War.  Even artworks that have nothing to do with the world events are still a reaction to the time period they were created in.

As one person, I cannot affect government legislation the way the lawmakers do, and I do not have the skills to foster positive change the way many brave activists do every day.  I will however, make images that matter and react to the world we live in. As a visual artist, that’s a responsibility I haven’t tried to deliberately embrace before.

Starting today, I will.


Related Video


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A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
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Drawing Experiments:  Layered Drawings
The Tug of Thumbnail Sketches


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter hit its $30k goal on July 19, 2016.  Get info on our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

FB  Youtube   tumblr   Pinterest   LinkedIn   Instagram   Twitter   snap_chat  email  etsy