About claralieu

I am a professor, writer, and visual artist. I write an advice column for visual artists called "Ask the Art Professor" which is featured in the Huffington Post. I currently teach in the Illustration Department at the Rhode Island School of Design. My studio practice explores isolation and mental illness through drawing, printmaking, and sculpture.

Moving on?

I started this blog way back in 2006, that’s 11 years of blogging!  Of course, SO much has changed and happened since then, and in case you haven’t noticed, I have barely written here for the past few months.  A huge part of that is that my commitments have largely transferred over to Artprof.org, which is consuming all of my time lately. (in a good way!)

Working on Art Prof has been the greatest, most difficult challenge of my career so far.  It’s also been the most rewarding and exciting endeavor, where there is a surprise around every corner that I can never anticipate. Art Prof has also empowered me with a number of new skills:  site usability, web development, social media, video editing, shooting video to name just a few.  I’m teaching a Senior Seminar course at RISD this semester in the Printmaking department in which so many of these skills are relevant. We’ve covered artist websites, social media, cover letters, networking, the entire package of skills that I wish I had learned when I was in art school.

This process has gotten me thinking about my own website, claralieu.com, which has been woefully neglected as I’ve moved on to other pursuits. The site is terribly out of date in terms of design (it’s not even close to being mobile friendly) and was designed way back before sites like Squarespace and Wix existed which provide user friendly site templates.

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I am seriously thinking about discontinuing this blog.  This blog will still exist in that it still has a lot of content that gets viewed every day, but between Artprof.org, my Instagram, and a soon-to-be revamped version of claralieu.com, I’m wondering if this blog is becoming too much of a dinosaur to continue. I’ve been wanting to combine my blog with claralieu.com for a while, and the WordPress theme I’m going to use is going to let me do that. Times and technology change, perhaps I need to take the leap and change too?

I don’t know, it’s tough to walk away from a blog I’ve invested so much time and effort into, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave one of my sites neglected.

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Something Out of Nothing


Lately I’ve been listening to the NPR podcast “How I Built This.” The stories are really inspirational and engaging, but what I wasn’t expecting was to see so much of what my life is like today, reflected in other people’s stories. Listening to the stories from companies like Air BnB, Kate Spade, Angie’s List, and more, I was surprised by what was consistent in all of these stories.

Every person spoke about their venture taking a minimum 3 years to get off the ground, using their home to some ridiculous capacity because there were no other options, and going humbling/menial tasks where you practically have to get down on your knees and scrub the floor yourself while singing for your supper.  Hearing Kate Spade explain how she was at one point, packing and shipping all of her hand bags herself from inside her apartment certainly sounded familiar!

Most of the time I’m too busy to do any amount of thoughtful reflection on Art Prof. However, this week I was at the Goetemann Artist Residency at the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester, MA and I actually had some quiet hours to think more philosophically than usual.

When I first started thinking about Art Prof 3 years ago, I remember almost everyone who I mentioned the idea to responded with: “Why don’t you just teach a course on Lynda.com?” or “How about trying to teach on Skillshare?” Yes, those certainly would have been the more practical routes, but in my mind, none of those were ever options that I seriously entertained.

This past week I’ve had to say goodbye to an incredible team of summer interns who did amazing work all summer and produced really exciting new content for Artprof.org.  We produced a short documentary on this summer’s interns, and one intern commented how he was fascinated by watching how you “create something out of nothing.”

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Project Idea video on linoleum printmaking with intern Anjali Shankar


There are days where I want to tear my hair out with frustration when things are difficult.  I’ve had a few situations that were really upsetting and extremely difficult for a number of reasons, but for the most part, those are rare blips in the scheme of things.

The rest of the time?  My actions can’t keep up with my mind, and I feel an intense urgency working on Art Prof that I have never even come close to experiencing with any of my other work. I always swore that I would ever go near sleeping the hours of a RISD freshman ever again, but apparently, if the work you’re doing is compelling enough, you’ll do ANYTHING to make it happen.

Art Prof has been incredibly humbling, more so than anything else I’ve ever experienced. I’m not someone who hesitates much about doing what I have to do to make something happen, but Art Prof has brought this to a whole new level. I’ve had to trust complete strangers, ask for favors that I really should know better than to ask for, dealt with people who wanted us to fail, had the doors slammed in my face, (metaphorically) increased my rejection rate about 50000%, and received deafening silence from more groups and people than I can count.

And yet somehow, I’m having the time of my life.  

I wake up everyday with so much excitement for what I’ll do next, to the point where I’m actually bummed out when it’s time to go to bed and I have to stop working.

Clara-screenshot_021

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. Artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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The Future of Artprof.org


Since launching Artprof.org, it’s been thrilling for me to watch our creative community grow. When I’m having a crummy day, I re-read viewer testimonials, which always gives me a lift. Here’s one that made me laugh out loud: “I’ve replaced Netflix with Art Prof Instagram Live videos.”  Now that’s a compliment!

In our staff group, we have many lists.  One list stands out: my queue of 34 videos that have been sitting on my server for weeks, some even for months. Why?  We don’t have the funding to hire a sound designer to do the sound mixes. (that’s not even counting the hundreds of hours of footage that have been shot, but not edited!)

With the exception of 2 interns this summer, I have done all of the editing since we started.  Not because I knew anything about editing, but because if I didn’t do it, no one else would. (only took me a year to learn Premiere!)

After being on sabbatical, I’m returning to teach at RISD in September. With my teaching schedule, I know that I won’t be able to keep my prior production schedule. The only solution is to hire editors and sound designers.

If everyone on this email list donated $5 a month, we could easily pay our TAs, editors, sound designers, a web developer, and cover critical expenses. Beyond that, we can show you what we are REALLY capable of!!!

One fundamental premise of our mission was for Artprof.org to be 100% free. I really, really don’t want to have to set up a paywall, but we’re at a point where we may have to. I literally have 20 years of content stuck in my head that I want to share with you! I care deeply about this artistic family and I want so much for us to keep thriving.

Clara

 


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. Artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Art Prof Draw Along!

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We’ve been experimenting with Instagram Live Video at Art Prof, which has been a fun new format for us to connect to our viewers.  After getting feedback and troubleshooting the format, we are pleased to announce our Art Prof Live schedule through the end of the summer!

We strive for our video courses to be comprehensive and high quality, but the consequence is that without a large production staff, our courses are very time consuming to produce.  Art Prof Live is our solution to this situation, and it’s an exciting platform because our teaching will occur in real time, and gives us closer interaction with our viewers.

Get a sketchbook + pencil and draw along with me TONIGHT @ 9:30pm EST on Instagram Live Video! Post your drawing with #artprofdrawalong on Instagram, and we might feature your drawing on our Instagram.

More info is on Artprof.org>Art Prof Live!

Hope to see you tonight!


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Will Art Prof Survive My Return to Teaching?

Artist profile on Judy Brown, the latest release in our Emerging Artist section.


I was on sabbatical from RISD this past spring semester, so the last time I was teaching on campus was way back in December 2016! As much as it was wonderful to finally have the head space to think clearly during sabbatical, it’s also been lovely to come back to campus.  I missed seeing former students and colleagues on a weekly basis. (I’m not an artist who can sit in the studio by myself for 8 hours every day.)

However, my life is very different from where I was in December 2016. The difference? Artprof.org, which didn’t exist before I went on sabbatical. This summer I’m teaching studio courses 5 days at week at RISD Pre-College. While my schedule is still densely packed with my commitments in teaching and Art Prof, I’ve got an incredible team of interns who are producing written columns for our Emerging Artists section, writing thoughtful and constructive comments on Artprof.org, creating video content for future use, and much more.

 

Most importantly, I have 2 Assistant Editors, Monika Hedman and Anjali Shankar, who are burning through our vast stock of video content, which has been huge in terms of getting new content released. The preparatory editing process is extremely tedious, and having that part of the process lifted from my shoulders has made all the difference in the world.  Despite that support, there is still plenty to do. I’m still doing heavy lifting in the second half of the editing process. I’m compulsive about keeping our high standards of quality that regardless of my 2 Assistant Editors, the process remains very time consuming.

However, this fall I’m returning to RISD, and I’ll be teaching 2 courses in the Printmaking department; Relief Projects and Senior Print Workshop Seminar.

I’m worried.

The teaching load in the fall is a little less than what I’m doing now, but the big difference is that my amazing team of interns are going to disappear in the fall, along with my 2 Assistant Editors. I’m scared that we won’t be able to continue hiring our incredible staff of Teaching Assistants, maintain content production at a reasonable pace, and keep Artprof.org 100% free.

 

Our options aren’t pretty.

We could stop hiring our Teaching Assistants, and lose an extraordinary team that make Art Prof what it is. We could set up a paywall on Artprof.org, which in my opinion basically destroys our mission to provide a free visual arts education for everyone. Or our content production slows to such a pace that we release a tutorial only once or twice a year. And that still includes myself, my partner Thomas Lerra, and Alex Hart all continuing to work on a volunteer basis.

I have only 2 months to figure this out.  Despite our push for donations on our Patreon, the donations have been very slim.

Which is why I’m going to ask you, if Artprof.org is a resource you are learning from, please consider a monthly donation to keep us alive. Even $1 a month will make a difference! 

Consider this: if every person on our mailing list gave us $1 a month, none of the hypothetical scenarios will happen in September.

 

Harsh Realities at Art Prof

The heart of Art Prof’s mission is to make our visual arts education content free and available to everyone.  Now, 3 years into this project, there are some harsh financial realities that we have to face.

Our Kickstarter funds were the launching pad that enabled us to actually create Artprof.org and turn our abstract ideas into a tangible, fully functional platform. We purchased tons of video/sound equipment, paid our Teaching Assistants for one year, hired our web developer, amongst other costs.

Some people might think that the $30k we raised would make us flush with cash, but that simply was not the case.  Despite the Kickstarter funding, Thomas Lerra, myself, and Alex Hart still had to keep working on a volunteer basis.  Even then, we knew that we had to keep scraping the bottom of the barrel, cut corners on almost every expense, and squeeze every last cent. I’m quite frankly amazed that we were able to make $30k last for this long.

On top of launching our site/producing content/marketing over the past year, we have been constantly pursuing all other means of raising funds:  we have been courting several sponsors non-stop for the past year, we’ve researched all kinds of grants, and looked for private donors. Basically, we have tried everything that was within our means, given everything else that was going on.

While we will continue to keep chipping away at these initiatives, we can no longer wait around. Art Prof needs a financial solution now. We are at a fork in the road: our funding is gone, and we have to figure out how to stay alive.

Either we get enough donations to stay alive, or we will have to set up a paywall. 

I really, really, don’t want to have a paywall on Art Prof.  Yet we can’t pay for Art Prof out of our own pockets long term. (we have already done plenty of that) The scope of Art Prof is far too big for that to even be a possibility.

While a paywall would certainly be the easier solution, I always go back to thinking about the teen from Nigeria, who wrote to me 2 years ago. She told me that there was no art program at her school, but that when she found my blog, she saw “a glimmer of hope.” I remember the retired adult who wrote to me and said that because of his disability and lack of finances, he will never be able to pay for an art class. Art Prof was the art class that would always be open for him. Help us keep our classroom door open to these people.

Please donate, every amount counts!

DONATE

Leyla-Clara


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

New Tutorial Set: “Small Sparks”

Clara-Alex-Casey

Last weekend Art Prof TAs Lauryn Welch, Alex Rowe, Deepti Menon, and Casey Roonan came to my house for a 5 days of shooting. Our retreats are really intense, require serious concentration 24-7, are exhausting, but they are also a total blast.  All of us live in different places, so we really only get together a few times a year to shoot our video content. What’s been really exciting is that with every retreat, we’ve become noticeably more efficient with our time, and our work flow is much faster than before. It’s wonderful to see our team settling into a stable familiarity in the process that wasn’t there when we first got started.

Lauryn-Alex

It’s still incredible to me how much we managed to pack into 5 days.  Deepti shot a tutorial about how to create an animation piece using an eggplant, Alex did a tutorial on ink wash drawing which involved American colonial history and an on site visit to a farm to hang out with sheep, Lauryn showed us how to mix coffee grounds into acrylic paint to make a painting inspired by BBQ squid, and Casey showed us all kinds of ink technique that involved roadkill and toilet paper.

Lauryn

While we still want to include the basics on Artprof.org, we’re really excited about these quirkier tutorials that are a new hybrid of artist documentary and tutorial.  In our research, the video content out there is either exclusively a documentary (such as the PBS series art21) or a purely technical tutorial.  The idea of combining both documentary and tutorial in one is really exciting, as you’ll get the change to understand the initial inspiration for our work, but also have the opportunity to see every step of the process explained, using ordinary materials that are accessible and can be done in your own home.

We see Art Prof as a platform that is constantly growing, even since our site launch this past February so much of our mindset has changed. Ideas for new content formats keep coming up, which is exciting, but also frustrating at the same time.  With our extremely limited post-production staff (me, and Alex Hart occasionally) we just don’t have the man power to produce video content as quickly as we want to. We desperately need a sound designer, but without sustained funding that isn’t an option for us right now. (please consider a monthly donation to our Patreon!)

Clara

Now that Art Prof has been around for 3 years, we felt it was a good time to create a short “Making of Art Prof” documentary for people to see what happens behind the scenes.  Even thought our content is of professional quality, I’m not sure people realize how DIY Art Prof really is!  We shoot in a room right next to my kitchen, we scrape together whatever art supplies we own, we cook meals together, and make do with situations that are less than convenient. (I’m too cheap to buy comforters for everyone, so all the TAs have to bring their own comforter when they stay here)

Naturally, our retreat wouldn’t be half as fun without our guinea pigs, Bubba and Fluffy, who are now the official Art Prof mascots!

Deepti

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.