Ask the Art Prof Live #4: Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series

 

02:31
Balancing periods of absorption and periods of isolation.


04:55
Go to the library and look at art books!
Mentioned: Caravaggio, August Edouart’s Silhouettes of Eminent Americans

Caravaggio, Oil Painting, The Doubting of St. Thomas    August Edouarte's Silhouettes


09:01
Non-art related influences
Mentioned:  Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto, Being Mortal, Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, The Lost Art Of Healing by Bernard Lown

Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto   Atul Gawande, Being Mortal   Awakenings by Oliver Sacks   The Lost Art of Healing, by Dr. Bernard Lown


11:01
Brainstorming: keep “barfing”

Below is a video tutorial on how to brainstorm, sketch, and create a drawing from beginning to end based on our October Art Dare.









17:01
Starting an art series:  striking a balance between consistency and variety
Mentioned: Quantum Leap, TV series

Quantum Leap


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.


Related Live Videos
#8: Should I do the Starving Artist Phase in New York City?
#7: How do I Improve My Art?  How do I Find My Artistic Style?
#6: Teaching High School Art, Teaching Color
#5:  Starting Art School, Avoiding Cliches
#3:  Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
#2:  Aches While Drawing, Professional Artwork vs. Student Artwork
#1:  Graduate MFA Programs

Unexpected Influences

I always encourage my students to supplement their studio practice by looking at visual artists who work with similar subject matter, or who they have stylistic correlations with. If you want to paint portraits, most people would agree that you should study great portraits throughout history, as well as contemporary portraits.  As a student, and later as a professional, that’s exactly what I did when I wasn’t in the studio creating work.

There are many visual artists whose artwork I’ve studied in tremendous depth as a direct influence on my own artwork.   Giacometti, Kollwitz, Caravaggio, Messerschmidt, William Kentridge, and Michael Mazur have been artists I’ve revisited countless times.

430N09216_7G7H8

Kathe Kollwitz, Woman with Dead Child

I have specific experiences and moments that I associate with each of these artists. My junior year at RISD, I went on the European Honors Program, and was hell bent on seeing every Caravaggio painting in Europe. (I came pretty close)  I saw my first Kollwitz prints  at the Study Room for Drawings and Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC during graduate school.  I had never so physically close to a print of hers before. I’ve haven’t seen a Messerschmidt sculpture in person, but my interest in his work got me to buy the first expensive art book I’ve purchased in years. ( I love art books, but when prices start at $60, you realize that your money is better spent elsewhere most of the time)

My students are often surprised to hear that I find artwork that is dissimilar to mine just as fascinating, and maybe even more so.  The subject matter and creative process of these artists is so vastly different from mine, that I can’t wrap my head around how they arrived at creating their artwork.  I’ve been intrigued by Sopheap Pich, El Anatsui, Chiharu Shiota, Sarah Sze, to name just a few.

ap_pich_Morning_Glory_902

Sopheap Pich

However, recently I’ve been traveling far beyond these contrasting artists, deliberately pushing myself away from visual artists altogether. Many people assume that because I’m a visual artist, all I want to look at and read about is visual artists. Lately though, it seems like I’m not interested in reading about or looking at visual artists at all. You would think my lack of interest right now would be a negative thing, or a sign of being burned out.  Actually, I feel more creatively stimulated than I’ve felt in a while, all because I started reading books again.

Oddly enough, my desire to read books got started because I stopped watching TV, and needed a way to unwind before going to bed. I think I quit TV because I’ve now watched every video remotely related to Louis CK, or because the last 4 movies I saw made me wish I could get those 2 hours of my life back. (Interstellar, Exodus, Edge of Tomorrow, and Theory of Everything. Okay, I should have known with Exodus what I was getting into, but I had hope with the other three)

I always enjoyed reading books before college, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I can count the number of books I’ve read since college on one hand. Part of this is because I’m an extremely picky reader, and if I’m not utterly captivated by the book within 10 pages, I can’t go on. I have to read books that are so incredibly engrossing that I can’t put the book down. With this stringent requirement, it can be hard for me to find the motivation to read because I am so easily disappointed.

BeingMortal  71CwWiCJhuL-319x479

In the last few months, I’ve gravitated towards books about food, comedy, and medicine. (you can see my book lists on my Goodreads account.)  I’ve been fascinated by seeing how other fields function, and their various methods of thinking. These fields might seem totally unrelated to visual art, but I’ve found many parallels.  I’ve been ruminating about how strategies used in other fields could be applied in my own artwork and teaching.

I’ve found myself mesmerized reading about the intricacies and issues in medicine discussed in Atul Gawande’s books. “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” was so riveting that I actually became sad when my Kindle app told me that I had finished 80% of the book. I just finished “The Checklist Manifesto“, which has less content about medicine than Gawande’s other books, but was just as gripping. In this book, I found concrete, practical strategies that I might eventually implement into my classroom. For example, next week I’m introducing linear perspective to my sophomore drawing class at RISD.   If you understand linear perspective, it seems so simple, but if you don’t, it can be daunting to learn the rules and terminology of linear perspective, and then figure out how to practically apply those rules as you draw. After reading Gawande’s book, I thought about creating a checklist based on linear perspective for the students to use as they work on their drawings in class.

I’m not nearly finished with looking at and researching visual artists by any means, and certainly I will be back for more at some point. For now though, it’s lovely to stumble upon resources for my artwork and teaching in places where I don’t usually expect it.


Subscribe to my email list! I send announcements only a few times a year.

Ask the Art Prof: Should College Art Students Study Abroad Even if it Distracts from Job Preparation?

rome_cnt_24nov09_iStock_

“Would you suggest that art students to go abroad during their college years even if it might distract from job and art portfolio preparation?”

Absolutely. I’m a firm believer that one should take advantage of every opportunity to travel. For many students, studying abroad is one of the few chances they will get to immerse themselves in a foreign country for an extended period of time. Unless you get a Fulbright grant or win the Rome Prize, it’s unlikely that another opportunity will present itself.  After graduation most students become so focused on their job search that getting up and moving to a foreign country for several months is just not a viable option.

Some people may argue that one can always take a vacation to a foreign country. That’s true, but studying abroad is very different than just taking a short vacation trip. I studied abroad in Rome in the RISD European Honors Program, and it was anything but a vacation. The first few weeks were fun, but after that, the reality of living in a foreign country really started to settle in. Normal every day tasks, like talking on the phone, required hard work and concentration to achieve.  I remember that I used to get headaches at the end of the day from listening to and trying to speak Italian all the time.  I never thought this would have happened to me, but I found myself craving anything that was remotely American because I wanted something that felt familiar for a change. Living in a foreign country is the ultimate life lesson that just can’t be replicated any other way.

I saw so much when I was studying abroad. When I was a freshman studying art history, learning about all of these famous works of art through textbooks and slides felt so sterile and abstract that I found myself feeling completely disconnected and apathetic towards much of the work. Then there I was in Rome, where walking down the street meant watching the pages from my art history book come alive.

Caravaggio_salome-with-the-head-of-john-the-baptist_1607

Caravaggio

And even better, I actually remembered all of those works from my art history books and was pleasantly surprised at my ability to name every one. It was thrilling to be able to truly understand what those works were really about because I was able to experience them in person.   I remember putting myself on a personal mission to see every single Caravaggio painting that was within reach. I saw every Gothic cathedral in Paris and in the surrounding cities. I don’t think I will ever have a chance to see that much in such a short period of time ever again.

Be prepared for some drawbacks to studying abroad that can be tough when you return. The truth of the matter is that studying abroad is one big distraction from portfolio preparation.  I remember when I came back that I felt jealous of my peers, who had been working hard and taking all sorts of neat classes while I was abroad. Many of them had created a substantial amount of work, and had made tremendous strides in their work, especially in terms of technique. By comparison, I had achieved very little artwork when I was abroad; I found it so hard even think straight much less accomplish portfolio caliber works when I was there. I felt like I was behind where my peers were and had a lot of catch up to do.

I recommend going junior year, because then you have senior year to catch up and get yourself back on track. Another option is to take one semester abroad, as opposed to an entire year. One semester abroad, the equivalent of just a few months, is not going to make or break your career. It will certainly not be the difference between whether or not you can get a job or not.  I can guarantee that you will treasure a study abroad experience for the rest of your life.


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.


Related articles
“What is the purpose of a degree in fine art?”
“How do you preserve your artistic integrity within the strict time limitations in an academic setting?”
“Is art education really so popular in western countries?”
“Who should you make art for, yourself or your professor?
“7 tips for surviving art school.”
“How can I prepare myself for the reality of the future?”
“To what extent do grades define an academic career in visual art?”
“Should I drop out of art school?”

Ask the Art Prof: How Can I Learn To Shade Objects in My Drawings?

Kollwitz_Frau_mit_totem_Kind

Kathe Kollwitz


“How can I learn to shade objects in my drawings?”

Shading objects in a drawing has everything to do with lighting. Light is what shows form.  First of all, it’s important that the objects that you’re drawing are properly lit to emphasize the form of the objects. The best way to get started is to set up a still life with simple forms, (fruit works pretty well) and then direct a single light source onto it.

Once you have a good still life set up with light, take some time to visually analyze the different kind of shadows you see before you even begin drawing. There are essentially two kinds of shadows that you should be looking for:  Form shadows and cast shadows.  Once you understand how these two different kinds of shadows work, shading the object will make a lot more sense.

Sphere

Form shadows basically show form on an object.  They tend to have soft edges and are smooth and subtle. You will find form shadows on the objects themselves. Within a form shadow, you’ll find what I like to call the “shadow core”, which is the darkest area of the shadow. On the edge of the object you’ll find “reflected light”, which is where the light bounces off the surface the object is sitting onto the object itself.  Reflected light tends to be very, very subtle and is often times tough to see.  If you know to look for it, you’ll be able to find it.

Cast shadows are everything that a form shadow is not.  They are very harsh and graphic, with sharp edges. Cast shadows are very flat and do not show form at all. To get a cast shadow, you need the object that is creating the cast shadow, and then the surface on which the shadow is cast upon. This oil painting, “El Jaleo” by John Singer Sargent (see below) shows a very strong cast shadow on the wall in the background, that is being created by theatrical lighting being cast from below on the female flamenco dancer in the foreground.  Notice the way that cast shadow cuts through the wall with it’s highly defined, graphic shape.

030

“El Jaleo” by John Singer Sargent


The key to creating convincing shading on objects is to keep the lighting very consistent among the objects in your still life. I see drawings all the time where the light seems to be coming from all different directions and therefore becomes very confusing. Notice in this Caravaggio painting below that the light on each object consistently comes from the left hand side of the painting, creating cast shadows on the right side of every object. This article I wrote talks in greater depth about the importance of lighting in paintings.

t_still_life_6

Detail from Caravaggio’s “Supper at Emmaus”


This charcoal drawing tutorial I did on the Art Prof Youtube channel shows the entire process of creating a portrait drawing in charcoal from direct observation. (see below) Lighting, shadow, and shading techniques are all covered in the tutorial. I wrote this article which provides detailed explanations of the numerous tools needed to make charcoal drawings.


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.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“What is a gesture drawing?”
“Is drawing considered an innate talent or a craft, which can be learned by anyone?”
“How can I draw what I see in my head?”
“What is the best way to practice my drawing skills?”
“How do you get yourself to practice drawing?”
“What is the most important mindset a student needs to have in order to create a successful drawing?”

Ask the Art Prof: How Do You Compose an Artwork More Rich with Details that Will Catch the Eye?

Scratchboard Project

“I have a question about composition, how do you make an artwork more rich with details that will catch the eye?”

Details are what dazzle and impress viewers in an artwork, they’re basically the fireworks at the end of an event.  However, what many people don’t realize is that details can only successful if they are supported by a strong composition. Without the structure of a compelling composition, details will fall apart and lose their context. Composition is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of making art, but unfortunately it is one fundamental skill that is notoriously overlooked.

Seduced by details, many artists will place far too much emphasis on specifics in the early stages of a work when really they should be concentrating on the composition. It doesn’t matter how amazing your details are if you have a lousy composition, so don’t even think about details until your composition has been solidified. (For more information about how to sketch compositions, read this article I wrote about preliminary sketching.)

The French neo-classicist painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres is renowned for his astonishing detail in his oil painting portraits.  He painted details that seem virtually microscopic in the textures of the clothing, hair, and lace in his artworks. Most people are enthralled by the extraordinary level of detail in his paintings.  They don’t take the time to recognize that the choices he made in the composition of his painting contribute just as much, if not more, to the effectiveness of the piece as the details do.

Jean August Dominique Ingres

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Below is a list of three primary objectives to consider when composing a piece, followed by concrete actions that you can take to get those results.

1) Lead the viewer’s eye to continually move throughout the work
A strong composition should get your eye continuously moving from one place to the next. Your eye should bounce from top to bottom, side to side, and inhabit every single piece of the composition at some point. Avoid placing your subject matter in the center of the piece, as this isolates all of the visual activity to the middle of the page. In general, symmetry also makes for a less engaging composition because it’s predictable and too consistent.  Let your composition surprise your viewers.

2) Make every part of the artwork important
I had a piano teacher who used to say “make every note special“.  It seems like an impossible task when you think about how many notes are in a piece of piano music, but the point is that every note in a piece of music has it’s own special role to play within the delicate balance of a work.  Assign roles to different parts of your work so that some are large and dramatic, whereas others are quiet and subtle.  A composition won’t work if everything is big and loud.  Fabricate sections of the composition to contrast against the rest.  All of the parts of your piece should work together and feed into an intricate web of relationships. Have your composition so complete and tightly woven that the removal of even one section would cause the balance to fall to pieces.

3) Be visually dynamic
Keep things visually exciting in every moment in your composition. One concrete action you can employ to make this happen is to implement diagonals anywhere you can. Diagonals fabricate a sense of action and movement, whereas horizontals and verticals tend to appear static and stiff.  Cropping your subject matter can also make the image appear grander and more dramatic. Leaving the entirety of your subject matter confined to the four edges of the page feels stale and boring.

raft_of_the_medusa1332528297967

Gericault, “The Raft of the Medusa

I’ve always felt that Gericault’s painting “The Raft of the Medusa” is one of the most striking compositions ever made. This piece is an astonishing 193″ x 282″ with life size figures, (make sure to see it in the Louvre in Paris before you die) and is propelled by it’s remarkable composition. If you examine the piece, it’s essentially a series of diagonals that slice up the composition very dramatically. With their thrashing limbs and desperate gestures, each figure points and leads to another, ending with a climactic finale in the figure at the top waving a rag.  There are quiet movements like the soft transitions in the sky, contrasted by brutally dark and powerful forms in the human figures. All of these areas work together to create a boldly balanced composition that Gericault’s horrific details flourish within.

Once you have a strong composition set up, you’re ready to tackle details.  Be selective about where you put details, and distribute them sparingly throughout your composition. Too many details in a piece can make a composition feel cluttered.  You don’t want to create a situation where the details are constantly competing for a viewer’s attention. Allow for large, ambiguous areas in your composition where the eye can rest temporarily. Think about details as little treasures that are to be discovered when looking at a piece.

st-peter

Caravaggio, The Crucifixtion of St. Peter

In this Caravaggio painting above, one of my favorite details is the pair of feet in the lower left hand corner. Not only does Caravaggio paint the veins and skin folds of the feet with intense detail, but he takes the time to paint the dirt on the feet! The simplicity of the dark, shadowy background around the feet allows these details to emerge beautifully. Not only is this detail stunning, but it also provides a visual description that enhances the depth of the narrative.


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.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“How can I tell if I’m skilled enough?”
“How do you find your own individual style?”
“How do artists manage to get their soul out into images?”
“How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?”
“How do you learn the basics?”
“Is it bad to start another piece of art before finishing another one?”
“How do you work in a series?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”

 

Ask the Art Prof: How Do You Find Your Own Individual Art Style?

Accordion Bookbinding Project

“How do you find your own individual style?”

Style is important as a visual artist, it’s essentially what distinguishes you from other artists, and what keeps your work looking professional, cohesive, and focused.  The greatest artists throughout history had styles that were incredibly distinctive and unique. Think about someone like Hieronymus Bosch, who was so far ahead of his time in the 15th century with his surrealistic scenes densely packed with human figures doing all sorts of strange and bizarre acts. Once you’ve seen one Bosch painting, you can spot another a mile away.

the-garden-of-earthly-delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch


Or, consider an artist like Giotto, whose frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel revolutionized the way that emotions were articulated through the form, lighting, and color of the gesture of the human figures. Many times, the cultural context and time period has a lot to do with whether art artist’s style is distinctive. Giotto’s frescos may not seem so unusual to the contemporary viewer. However, within the context of his time period, by comparison, no other artists were painting faces that expressed such an intense, outward pouring out of emotion. In this way, his paintings distinguished themselves from all of the other artwork being created in that time.

giotto-lamentation

Frescos at the Scrovegni Chapel, by Giotto


In an artist’s style, there are usually defined characteristics, a specific means of handling a media, or repeated strategies in an artist’s style that are consistently visible in every artwork.  When I think about the great caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, whimsical, expressive, black and white portraits drawn with fluid, organic lines are signature visual features of his work. Once you’ve seen a few Al Hirschfeld drawings, his style is so distinctive that you can spot them from a mile away.

ella_full

Ella Fitzgerald, by Al Hirschfeld


Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio was known for his startlingly realistic oil paintings which used chiaroscuro lighting and bold gestures in his figures to create an atmosphere of intense drama. Compared to the idealized and sanitized versions of figurative oil paintings that preceded Caravaggio’s work, Caravaggio’s oil paintings emphasized a grittier, more flawed view of figures.

For example,  Caravaggio’s depictions of Christ portrayed him as an ordinary man, looking as if he lived in our world.  This was a direct opposition to previous depictions of the time period Caravaggio lived in, where Christ was always painted to appear as an otherworldly figure who did not look like an real person. Caravaggio depicted the “ugly” side of real life:  he took the time to paint the dirt on someone’s foot, and heightened unflattering wrinkles in someone’s forehead with tremendous detail.  Given the environment and time period Caravaggio lived in, these visual decisions were incredibly different, and greatly distinguished his paintings from other works created during the same time period.  Think about any notable artist from art history, and it’s usually fairly easy to sum up their style with some key adjectives.

st-thomas

The Incredulity of St. Thomas, by Caravaggio


This may sound like a contradiction, but I strongly believe that the best way to find your own individual style is to try out as many different ways of working as possible.  I teach freshman drawing at RISD, where I encourage my students to explore and try out different identities for themselves.  Many students arrive at art school with very little experience working in diverse media and approaches, so this foundation is critical towards laying a premise for their artistic careers.

I push the students to dramatically shift their approaches within one semester. One week they’re learning how to make highly detailed and rendered images, the next week they’re working in a loose, painterly style. If you were to hang up all of the drawings by a single student onto one wall at the end of the semester, you would swear that you were looking at drawings by ten different people. For a first year art school student, that’s a wonderful accomplishment because what they’ve done is they’ve essentially learned multiple visual languages that they will have access to for the rest of their lives. This set of drawings below were all created by one student within a single semester, you can see that there is an incredible range of different styles, even though the pieces are all by the same student.

I want my students to achieve a versatility that will empower them to become anything that they want to be.  By directly experiencing all of these different languages, you can build an overall understanding of everything that is out there. Only by exploring the range of options can you then narrow your focus onto what it is you want to be.

If you’re looking for ideas for art projects, check out our Monthly Art Dares, where we assign a prompt to create an artwork each month. Often times many students who are interested in studying art have a strong desire, but are at a loss for where to even begin.  That’s why our monthly Art Dares are a great place to start:  we provide the launching pad and you decide where your final destination will be.


The most common mistake that I see all the time is people trying to force a style on themselves prematurely. I went to art school with a peer who was remarkably talented and seemed capable of doing just about anything. Throughout his time in art school, he experimented with many different media, and worked fluidly in contrasting styles. Everything he did was original, inventive, and beautifully crafted.  However, when he graduated and started working professionally after school, all of that changed immediately. He quickly forced this very commercial style on himself and did some of the worst work that I had seen him do in years.  The work lacked the same original spirit and enthusiasm and looked generic and derivative.

Style doesn’t develop overnight, it’s a gradual process that can take years to emerge.  The process of finding your style is very slow, and you need to develop serious skills in patience.  Allow your style to naturally evolve.  Attempts to force a style on yourself will end up looking contrived and dishonest.

Below are several videos that discuss how I developed my stylistic approach to a series of drawings of elderly figures.


Keep in mind that style is not just about the way your artwork looks, the subject matter that you communicate and represent in your artwork is just as important.  Artists are known throughout history for the interaction of their technique and the ideas they wanted to communicate.  The visual look of an artwork is meaningless if there is no concept, motivation, or purpose behind the creation of the artwork. That’s why it’s important that while you experiment and hone a diverse range of skills, that you also work on your ability to brainstorm, develop, and ultimately execute a finished artwork that has a solid and intriguing subject.

Below is a video tutorial where I demonstrate how to get started brainstorming an idea, transitioning an idea into thumbnail sketches, and then realizing that idea into a finished drawing.

Once you do find a style that works, it doesn’t mean that the creative process ends there.  If you only stick to that one style forever, you may as well be a trained monkey who can only do one trick. It certainly does work for some people, and there are definitely people out there who are very successful doing that one trick. Historically, the most compelling artists have been the ones who are constantly reinventing and transforming themselves.

matisse

Collage by Matisse


Look at Picasso:  even after the smashing success Picasso had with Cubism, he kept innovating, experimenting, and pushing new ideas.   He created new pieces that were vastly different from Cubism, like his bull’s head made from a reconfigured bike seat. Matisse went from oil paintings to paper cut outs at the end of his life. Degas switched from pastel drawings and oil paintings to figure sculpture when he started to lose his eye sight at the end of his life. These artists weren’t satisfied to be limited to one way of working for the rest of their lives, and were willing to take major risks with their work to transform into something new.

ce8a8ef910f6161c27d48d2e1eb64f65

“Bull’s Head” by Picasso, 1942


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.


Related Videos
Ask the Art Prof Live: How do I Improve My Art?  How do I Find My Artistic Style?
Ask the Art Prof Live: Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series
Ask the Art Prof Live: Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“How can I tell if I’m skilled enough?”
“How do artists manage to get their soul out into images?”
“How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?”
“How do you make an art piece more rich with details that will catch the eye?”
“How do you learn the basics?”
“Is it bad to start another piece of art before finishing another one?”
“How do you work in a series?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”

Rome: Caravaggio & Bernini

It occurred to me today that my trip to Rome that I’m taking in June could help me get into these final paintings. It’s been about 10 years since I studied in Rome when I was a junior at RISD, and it will be interesting to see what’s changed since then and what’s the same. I’m also curious to find out whether my perspective on certain works has been enhanced since I started teaching, especially since I’ve been teaching art history at RISD in the summers. I know that the trip will definitely give me good food for thought to help my art history class, given thats so many works we discuss in the class are in Italy. In terms of painting, I’m particularly excited to revisit the Caravaggio paintings that are in Rome. I remember when I saw famous works in Europe that for me the piece would either blow my mind away or be a complete disappointment. Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa was a big disappointment, I had all these ideas about how great I thought that piece was and in real person it just looked flat and boring. The Caravaggio paintings were incredible, you would never think it was possible to get those kinds of effects in paint.

I’m at an odd time in the year. Part of me really wants to buckle down and get to work, but the other part of me knows how burnt out I am from teaching this year and recognizes that I need to take a break to refresh my mind. Otherwise, it’s almost anti-productive. I’m still not 100% finished with teaching either; I still have a student show that I have to attend next Wed. and I still have to write comments for the students which is always time consuming. I suppose my way of taking a “break” was I worked my children’s book this week instead of the artwork.In a weird way, that diversion has helped me clear my head a little.

Caravaggio’s Martyrdom of St. Matthew

Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa