Face Yourself: How I Defeated Self-Censorship

Lauryn2

by Lauryn Welch

This year I’ve been thinking about the extent of my studio practice.  I realized my studio practice will only go as far as I’m willing to let it go. My artwork is bounded simply by my own censorship. When I thought about it, this idea that I was the only thing standing in my way was laughable. I am generally a goofy and amicable person with noodly arms and an easy smile. That image of getting in the way of myself made a powerful impact on me.

When I was in art school, I was getting thorough, and sometimes very intense critique from all sorts of amazing art professionals that sent me in all different directions. Even when there were no assignments and the work was left up to me, I knew that my paintings would be evaluated based on a set of criteria that was unique to each individual giving the critique. These critiques were incredible, valuable learning experiences, but I often internalized feedback as a set of rules, and these rules would be contradictory from person to person. One of my professors pushed hard on narrative and digital approaches, while another favored an organic and physical exploration with paint.

Lauryn1

By the time I graduated college, I had a choir full of internal voices clamouring “don’t do this!” “don’t do that!”, and I was struggling trying to paint something to satisfy all of these rules.After I graduated college, I found myself all alone in my studio with no peers or professors, no expectations or directions. I was alone with myself, and all of these rules were only voices in my head.

I realized I could paint whatever I wanted.

I want to say that again because it sounds so deliciously sweet.

I. Could. Paint. Whatever. I. Wanted.

Lauryn_socks

So I painted a pair of socks. I really liked this pair of mismatched socks, and I admired the rug underneath them, and the combination of the rug and the socks made me giddy with happiness. I had no complicated, academic motives. It was great!

Later, I drew a bunch of birds with markers, just because I am thrilled to be around these bright little flying life forms all the time. I live in rural New Hampshire, and I hadn’t realized how sorely I missed the wilderness while living in New York, or how much I had taken it for granted prior to moving. It was liberating making these pieces. This was subject matter I had refused to paint about for a long time because I thought it was boring, trite, and inconsequential.  

Lauryn Welch

However, by ignoring these experiences that brought me great joy in my life, I was only erasing a part of myself and trying too hard to fill it with things that didn’t fit. Perhaps not so coincidentally, these two projects were the first pieces of artwork that drew enthusiasm from a much broader range of people, instead of just artists.  When you can paint openly from yourself, people can sense and appreciate this residual joy and honesty in the painting. This special connection gives the artwork depth and value. How tremendous!

I like (perhaps too much) going heavy into eye crossing art theory, and I always appreciate a second set of eyes to help me pick out things in my work I hadn’t thought about. However, it seems that I missed one of the first rules in art and in life: it’s better to just be yourself!


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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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.

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Crit Quickie #23

Check out Crit Quickie #23, featuring an acrylic painting installed as a ceiling tile by @millishighart.  Critique by TA Annie Irwin.

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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Crit Quickies vs. Audio Critique Packs

by @ter_ars_zawitkowska_

I’ve been very excited about the way that Crit Quickies has picked up over the past few days! I think it’s wonderful that submissions are coming in from artists of all ages, backgrounds, locations, and styles.  That’s one aspect of being an artist that I think is very unique to our field:  your background, age, body type, etc. doesn’t dictate whether you can be an artist.  Compared to other fields like athletics, or acting, where if you are just 2″ too short, or if you don’t have the “right look” for the movie role you’re auditioning for, you can always make art no matter what.

Eloise_Shelton_Mayo    Heidi Neff, acrylic painting "Untitled (Resistence)"    Jeff Wrench, Acrylic Painting

If you enjoy our Crit Quickies, check out our Audio Critique Packs.  (Click on the three images above to hear each artwork’s Audio Critique Pack.) We gave away 4 free Audio Critique Packs over the past month, so each winner got a 2-6 minute critique from 4 different professional artists each.  While the Crit Quickies are fun, as you can imagine, there’s only so much you can squeeze into 1 minute of speaking!  The Audio Critique Packs let us go into much greater depth and detail in the critique, so check them out. Our giveaways are over, but you’ll see on June 14 that there will be further opportunities to get an Audio Critique Pack in the future.

Making art doesn’t have to be a gigantic expensive production either.  The artistic process can be as humble as doing a pencil sketch for 10 minutes a day in a small sketchbook-you don’t have to construct a 20′ high bronze public art sculpture to be an artist. Keep those submissions coming, and keep your eyes peeled on my sites on June 14 for our huge announcement-I promise you won’t be disappointed.


by @collins_cameron


by @melissaeuler


by @emilybtenet.art


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.

The Crit Quickies are Pouring In

Crit Quickie #8 by @tea_for_jbass


Over the last 48 hours, Crit Quickie submissions have started pouring into my Instagram!

What I’m most excited about is the extraordinary range of different artists and artworks that people are sending me. Crit Quickie #3 was by a retired art teacher, and #9 (below) was a painting by a 9th grader that was submitted by her art teacher.  #8 (above) is by a freshman in art school. With so many submissions, it is going to take me some time to get to yours, so please be patient. If the volume of submissions gets to the point where I’m not able to critique every piece, I will have to critique only select pieces. Keep those submissions coming! Post your art w/ @art.prof , #artprof & “Crit Quickie.”

We accept submissions from artists in 9th grade and up. If you’re an art teacher, you’re welcome to submit on behalf of your students!


These Crit Quickies are little nibbles compared to the major art education project that is arriving on Tuesday, June 14.  If you like Crit Quickies, our Audio Critiques, Ask the Art Prof Live, my Portfolio Video Critiques, our in person Portfolio Review events, (June 19, not too late to sign up!) then you’re in for an artistic banquet of a lifetime!  Don’t miss the banquet and subscribe to my email list today.


Crit Quickie #9 by @colleenkr


Crit Quickie #9 by @dbgossett


Subscribe to my email list! There’s a big announcement coming up on June 14 that you won’t want to miss. I send announcements only a few times a year.

Crit Quad #2: Heidi Neff

Heidi_Neff

Heidi Neff
“Untitled (Resistence)”, acrylic paint on canvas, 9″ x 16″

“This painting is a part of a larger body of work which  investigates the relationship between the virtual and the physical and how that relates to profoundly personal experiences such as love, sex, motherhood, loss, illness, physical injury and spiritual connections. In my work, paint acts as metaphor for that which is messy, physical and real in an increasingly detached, virtual world.”


Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Teaching Assistant
Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Designer & Ceramic Artist
“If you’re talking about the physical and virtual world, I want to see in your work what is the relationship between two systems.”


Annie Irwin, Teaching Assistant
Annie Irwin, Weaver, Textile Artist, Painter
“In terms of what’s happening in the background, I think you could achieve more space and depth by trying to further your experimentation with materials.”


Alex Rowe, Teaching Assistant
Alex Rowe, Book Illustrator
“The really nice, subdued blue is really making all the oranges and the yellows, and the reds pop.”


Clara Lieu, Visual Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
Clara Lieu, Fine Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
“Specificity is really helpful.  When people try to take on too many subjects all at once, they find they just can’t get specific enough and the audience gets lost.”
Mentioned: Frank Auerbach, Lucien Freud, Francis BaconSoutine


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.

Crit Quad #1: Jeff Wrench

Jeff_Wrench

Jeff Wrench
“Chelsea Rose”, acrylic paint on wallpaper and paint chips, 11″ x 17″

“This painting is from an an ongoing series of portraits on wallpaper and paint chips, based on my snapshots or (in this case) photos provided by someone I’ve met online. I’m trying to paint intuitively and quickly. I am interested in rough, semi-abstract marks and colors that still converge into convincing and recognizable images. The found background is another source uncertainty in the process and opportunity for happy accidents. If successful, I think such an painting can ‘vibrate’ in the viewer’s mind, and maybe excite the imagination in ways that a realistic rendering would not.”


Casey Roonan, Teaching Assistant
Casey Roonan, Illustrator & Cartoonist
“Stay open, and keep asking yourself questions, and try to really be conscious of all the decisions you’re making.”
Mentioned: Lucien Freud, Alice Neel


Sara Bloem, Teaching Assistant
Sara Bloem, Multimedia Artist
“I want more information about how you’re choosing the subjects of these pieces.”
Mentioned: Jean Arp


Lauryn Welch, Teaching Assistant
Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist
“I love the idea that something can be seen both as a collection of patterns, as well as having a character to it, like an identity.”
Mentioned: Jenny Saville, Euan Uglow, Chantal Joffe, Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard


Clara Lieu, Visual Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
Clara Lieu, Fine Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
“I want to know more information, more specificity, for example, where did you meet this person online?”
Mentioned: Frank Auerbach, Lucien Freud, Francis BaconOskar Kokschka


Follow up from Jeff on our critiques:

“Clara, this was great for someone like me — I’m not in school and I haven’t really found a way to get thoughtful input on my art. And mostly when I’ve found someone who I trust to give input, it’s been about the actual painting process — while much of the input here was about concepts. So that was new/surprising/interesting to me. Many of the critique comments highlight things I hadn’t explicitly thought about, so I am excited that pursuing these ideas may lead me to some interesting development. Thanks to all four of you!”


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.

Ask the Art Prof: Where Do I Start with Visual Arts?

Scratchboard Project

“I don’t know where to start. I am a very creative person who one day decided to borrow my friend’s acrylic paints. I just started to blend and created something that was not that bad. Since then, I’ve felt encouraged to keep trying it. My question is, where do I start? I know nothing about art and I don’t want to come off as a poser.”

The visual arts are so incredibly broad that there is an overwhelming amount of options when you’re just getting started. I would suggest starting with the one classic tool that artists throughout history have used: the sketchbook. Drawing is fundamental to every area of the visual arts, so any experience you have with drawing in your sketchbook will eventually contribute to your experience with other media. Drawing in a sketchbook keeps things very simple and accessible.

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Sketchbook by Myles Dunigan.

Buy a small sketchbook, and carry your sketchbook around with you everywhere that you go. Be on a constant hunt for ideas and images. Any time you see something that excites you, draw it or write it down in your sketchbook. Think about your sketchbook as the ultimate resource for ideas and visuals; it should reflect the inner workings of your mind. Your sketchbook is the primordial soup for all of your creative pursuits. Everything in your sketchbook should be raw and unfiltered material that could some day emerge as a larger project.

The great thing about a sketchbook is there’s no pressure to perfect or finish anything. Many artists get caught up in overworking their art because they are too precious about their work. In a sketchbook, you can draw freely without feeling like you need to live up to a set of expectations.

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Sketchbook by Sara Bloem.

Commit to drawing something in your sketchbook everyday. Draw with simple materials like a pen, a pencil, colored pencils, etc. The simplicity of these materials will keep things straightforward and focused on the pure process of drawing. Date your drawings so that you can see your progress as you flip through past drawings in your sketchbook. Even if you only have time to do something quick, like a 10 minute sketch once a day, that time is still valid and will contribute to your overall progress. Spread out your work, it’s better to sketch for a few minutes seven days a week, rather than to draw for three hours once a week.

Once you’ve been working in your sketchbook for a few months, you will be able to look back on your past drawings and start to figure out where you want to go from there. I love going back and looking through my old sketchbooks, they are visual archives of my creative process at the time. You will be able to watch your ideas and images evolve, and track your progress in this way. Your experience with your sketchbook will steer you towards more specific interests, and guide you to towards the next step.

Looking for a place to get started?  Try one of our monthly Art Prof Art Dares!


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.


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