500 Sheets

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By Deepti Menon, Art Prof Teaching Assistant

During my junior year as a Film/Animation/Video student, I took a year-long animation course. Prior to this, I had taken the required introductory animation class, but this intermediate course was when I really discovered a new way to think.

Coming into this major, I had no prior experience animating, but knew it was a magical thing that I wanted to do. My prior artistic experiences and processes always involved a lot of meticulous planning and reworking of a single image until I saw it done. Additionally, my exposure to animation was pretty basic – character-based work with clean lines and seamlessly fluid movement. Therefore, this is how I approached my animations. I placed a lot of thought into creating the characters and story line and spent a ton of time on the details of each frame.

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However, this all changed during one day of this intermediate animation course. My professor gave us each 500 sheets of printer paper and set a timer for an hour. We weren’t given any light boxes or ways to see our progress, just the paper and our pens. Our only instruction was to finish animating the 500 pages before the timer was up. To me, this was absurd. I would usually complete five frames in an hour, maybe six. Realizing my usual methods were not going to cut it, I was forced to rethink what it meant to animate. By the end of the hour, I had create a frenzy of shapes and scribbles dancing across the white page. Watching the animation, I could see the points where panic set in and the decision-making unfold.

The animation wasn’t anything like I had made before. I was amazed. Primarily, I was amazed that I completed the task. However, I was also so drawn to how the animation embodied the pace and panic of the task itself. I found that watching my classmates also taught me a lot. One student penetrated the whole ream of paper with a sharp object, creating a hole in each piece of paper that varied slightly with each page. The variety in rips created a subtle yet stunning animation that reminded me a lot of an organism breathing. Another student allowed a marker to bleed through the entire ream of paper, creating a stunning transition of ink blots transitioning and fading. I was drawn to the simplicity of these ideas and how they can create connotations with such minimal imagery.

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Although my final product wasn’t something I was going to submit to film festivals, it changed the way I approached my ideas and the process of animation, paying more attention to how an artistic process can inform the content behind it. I also began to see how beneficial it was to challenge yourself with something like a time restraint. This led me to create another animation, “Shell”, where I had a time restraint and had to create movement from a static object.

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.


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.


Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

Embracing the Artist Process

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by Casey Roonan, Art Prof Teaching Assistant

There was a long time after art school when I felt like I was just spinning my wheels. I’ve always been a very product-oriented thinker, and throughout art school I treated both class assignments and freelance projects as problems to solve. I loved the challenge of finding a visual solution and the perfect art media or format to express it. If the first image that popped into my head was at all workable, I would go for it. There wasn’t room for exploration. I was excited just to skip to the end.

When I was home on break I would give myself the objective of completing a comic book every summer, each time increasing my target page count. In a sense, I was doing exactly what I used to do as a kid when I would steal stacks of printer paper from my Dad’s office, staple them together, draw a “cover” on the first page, and then fill in from there… I was starting with the product first, then working backwards. The primary difference was that now I would at least finish the booklet, instead of just wasting office supplies.

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That approach worked for me at the time, and I’m still proud of a lot of the art I made during those years. But shortly after graduation, I found I no longer was finishing the little booklets I dreamt up in my head… I’d start in on those preliminary sketches, and then things would sputter out before I could move onto the final artwork. I was stuck in my sketchbook. Without school deadlines to push me, I found I couldn’t prioritize one idea over another. How did I know a concept was good? Which product was actually worth making? I was filling up sketchbook after sketchbook with fragmented, half-imagined notions and unresolved doodles. Everything looked awful. I was wasting paper, again!

Paradoxically, my only solace from making such bad drawings came from… well, making more bad drawings. I began regularly hanging out with my old high school art buddy, Mike Karpiel, and we started making “jam” comics: We would pass our sketchbooks back and forth, trading off panels in collaborative comic strips. We drew directly on the page in pen – crummy pens, even – without any kind of forethought or pencil under-drawing.

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Jam comics with Mike Karpiel


The goal wasn’t to make drawings that looked good, as we didn’t plan on showing them to anyone. The point of the exercise was to pass the time, to riff, to surprise the other person with a weird twist, and to make each other laugh. At first we would work at my place or his, but soon we were drawing while hanging out at coffee shops, or in bars. We started incorporating characters and objects from our surroundings into the strips. Suddenly, I was drawing from observation again! Not in the way I used to when I was going to figure drawing sessions in art school, however… In an unprecedented way, I was taking in my every-day surroundings, and drawing from my life as opposed to simply “from life.”

My sketchbooks started to look completely different. I’d tricked myself into enjoying drawing again. I started treating drawing as a process, rather than a means to an end.

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Lately I’ve been drawing virtually everyday, and I do it for a number of different reasons. I doodle aimlessly to get my mind moving. I brainstorm by drawing directly with my black pen, to fully resolve ideas as they come to me. I sketch out compositions in pencil for my freelance work. Before starting a finished piece, I warm up with blind contour drawings in colored ink, using photos I find on Instagram, magazines, or old yearbooks as my references.

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Teaching Assistants Casey Roonan with Yves-Olivier Mandereau on the Art Prof set


I carry smaller sketchbooks with me when I go out, so I can capture the faces I see, and I draw “master copies” of the art when I go to museums. I draw on top of the lists I make compulsively to keep myself on task, or over my notes for future projects. If something feels compelling I redraw it, over and over again. The disparate ideas gradually come together. Initially unrelated influences meet and become coherent.

I mark an especially interesting idea by leaving an empty page following it – a space to resolve the concept more fully in the future, when I’m nearing the end of the book and my need to just fill it becomes undeniable. As a result of all of this, I’ve probably doubled or tripled the amount of paper I stack up on a regular basis, but at least now those pages are filled.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

subscribe


FB  Youtube   tumblr   Pinterest   LinkedIn   Instagram   Twitter   snap_chat  email  etsy


Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.


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.


Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

#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


Related Articles
Generations of Women and the Scars They Walk With
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork
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 art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

subscribe


FB  Youtube   tumblr   Pinterest   LinkedIn   Instagram   Twitter   snap_chat  email  etsy


Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.


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.


Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

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


Related Articles
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork
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 art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

subscribe


FB  Youtube   tumblr   Pinterest   LinkedIn   Instagram   Twitter   snap_chat  email  etsy


Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.


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.


Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

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


Related Videos
Drawing Process for these Elderly Drawings


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.

FB   Youtube    tumblr    Pinterest    LinkedIn    Instagram    Twitter    snap_chat   email