We Need Your Feedback!


Now that Artprof.org has been live for about 3 months, we want to hear from YOU!  Tell us what you like, what could be improved, and what kind of content you want to see in the future.  Your feedback and thoughts are tremendously important to keep us moving forward.

FILL OUT SURVEY


Since our site launch in February 2017, we’ve already made several fundamental improvements to Artprof.org:  our site now loads much more quickly because we compressed files, glitches on the mobile version have been fixed, and we are adding new content every week. (see our homepage for new releases!) In the coming weeks, we are working with our web developer to make Artprof.org AMP compliant. (Accelerated Mobile Pages) so that the mobile version will be significantly increased and load times will be super quick!

Stay tuned!  The first half of my Self-Portrait from Life tutorial is now available, with the second half and Casey Roonan’s charcoal version coming soon!


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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A New Type of Tutorial: “Course Trios”


One aspect of Art Prof that we are trying to push is diversity of artistic approaches and media.  When I was a student in art school, I remember feeling like my head was exploding with excitement when I arrived on campus and was discovering so many new art materials. I found it to be an incredibly enriching experience to approach the same subject with different media.  I did portraits in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture techniques throughout my four years in art school. Every media I experienced revealed something new about the human face that could only be experienced with that specific media.

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That’s why I’m thrilled that we’re bringing that diversity of materials to Art Prof with our Course Trios, beginning with our Self-Portrait from Life course.

The idea is different than the linear tutorials I’ve seen online:  My tutorial provides the fundamentals  & premise of the subject.  In the case of the Self-Portrait course,  how to set up a mirror, light your face, basics in the structure of the skull, and thumbnail sketches.  From there, the course branches out into 3 different paths:  1) a self-portrait in crayon by myself, 2) a self-portrait in charcoal by TA Casey Roonan, and 4) a self-portrait in animation by TA Deepti Menon.


Watching Casey do his charcoal drawing tutorial from behind the camera, I found myself seeing the concept of the self-portrait with new eyes. In the video above, Casey talks about how as a cartoonist, he has a cartoon version of himself in his head that he can draw “thoughtlessly.”  He talks about how cartoonists are often accused of just drawing themselves, citing Jack Kirby’s  Incredible Hulk as essentially a self-portrait of Kirby himself. As a fine artist, all of this was totally new to me, and I found it endlessly absorbing to listen to.

I told Casey afterwards that my “basics” tutorial on drawing a self-portrait from life felt so generic compared to his!  However, we agreed as a staff that having one tutorial provide the core basics was critical to the other two tutorials making sense.  Hope all of you have as much fun learning these diverse approaches as I do!  If you want to receive email notifications when a new course is released, you can sign up here.

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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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November Art Dare Results are in!

Thanks to all of you who participated in the November Art Dare! We were thrilled to see all of the submissions and hope that you’ll participate in the December/January Art Dare.  Judges were Prof Clara Lieu, and Teaching Assistants Casey Roonan, Lauryn Welch, Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Annie Irwin, Alex Rowe, and Deepti Menon.

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Below are our prize winners!


Maya Sternberg, Honorable Mention

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Elysha Tsai, Honorable Mention

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Jieru Lin, Innovative Materials Prize

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Wendy Duong, Composition Prize

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Hyeji Kim, Form & Texture Prize

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Emma Heyes, Process & Development Prize

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Shelly Leroux, Art Teacher’s Prize
Victoria School for Performing and Visual Arts, Canada

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Art Dare drawings by Shelly’s students below!

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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 early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

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December Art Dare extended through January!

 

img_7472Submission for this month’s Art Dare from Sarah from @sketchofthedays.


Since many people are on vacation in the last half of December, we’ve decided to extend our December Art Dare through January 31!  Get details below on the Art Dare. 


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


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

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An #artprofwip submission for this month’s Art Dare by @emotional.cabbage.


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

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

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


MORE INFO ON PRIZES/TIPS


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Submission for this month’s Art Dare from Owen from @sketchofthedays.  He writes: “With this sketch I hope to elaborate on my change as a person throughout the year of 2016. I feel this year, I’ve been closer to my true self then I’ve ever been. This is mainly due to the pre-college program I attended over the summer. I’m currently figuring out ways to brain storm this transformation.”


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


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Art Critique for Carol Haggerty’s Art Class

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

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


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts 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: When and How Should You use Photo References to Draw?

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Newly updated version of this popular Ask the Art Prof column!

by Clara Lieu

“When and how you should use photo references to draw?”

Too often I find that people use photo references out of laziness.  Be careful that if you decide to work with photo references, that it’s for a very specific need, not because of convenience. Photographs should only be used when direct observation of a subject is absolutely impossible. If you’re an illustrator and you’re creating a illustration about dinosaurs, obviously that’s not an image you can draw from life. However, there are many subjects where it’s very possible, and in some cases very easy. For a still life drawing, get the actual objects and set them so you can directly observe them from life. I’ve literally seen students search for a photo of an apple online so that they can draw an apple.  Is it really that hard to buy an apple to draw from life?!?

If you are drawing a self-portrait, it’s easy enough to get a mirror and draw from that. The 15 minutes it takes to figure out how to set up your mirror and drawing board to draw a self-portrait are seriously worth the time. Anything that you can possibly observe from life should be done in this way. Nothing can substitute experiencing a subject in real life: being able to touch it, smell it, walk around it, inspect it, experience it, etc. Staunchly set direct observation as your number one priority whenever possible.

Illustrator James Gurney

Illustrator James Gurney

I’ve also seen many professional artists work with a variety of other references that are just as effective, if not more so, than photo references.  Artist James Gurney fabricates sculptures of dinosaurs for his paintings. After sculpting the dinosaur in clay, he paints the sculpture and then draws from the sculpture as his reference. You can watch him go through this process in this terrific video below.  It goes to show that photographs are not the only option, and that other methods can provide a level of depth and understanding of a subject that photographs are incapable of providing.

Artist James Gurney  on how he paints dinosaurs by sculpting clay models.


My RISD colleague and former professor Andrew Raftery painstakingly creates complex 3D models of interior spaces using wood and wax figures as references for his incredible engravings.

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You can visibly see in this side-by-side comparison of Raftery’s 3D model  and finished engraving how critical the creation of the 3D model is in constructing the interior scene. The lighting and spatial relationships are literally re-created in the 3D model and are thus incredibly convincing in the completed engraving.

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If you’ve decided that photographs are indeed the only option for your drawing, the next stage is to do everything in your power to shoot the photographs yourself. If that means taking a trip to the zoo to take photographs of the gorillas, then do it.  I know it’s very tempting and easy to go on Google Images and simply pull a photograph off the Internet. However, when you use someone else’s photograph, your drawing will be vastly limited. You won’t be able to control the point of view, you can’t zoom in to get more details, and most likely the resolution of the photograph will be poor.  Take the initiative to go to your subject and photograph it from every point of view.  Shoot close up shots of specific areas so that you have all of the information you need.

The only time I would advocate using someone else’s photograph as a reference is if there is absolutely, one hundred percent, no other way to get the visual information you need. For example, if you are doing an illustration of an elephant, and you need details of the wrinkles in the skin, that’s a circumstance where you’ll need to use someone else’s photograph. In general though, someone else’s photograph should be the last resort in terms of references.

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When you do get to the point where you are working from a photograph, think about it as a process of gathering raw information which you then edit and manipulate. There is nothing artistic or creative about copying a photograph verbatim.  If that is your intent, you might as well xerox the photograph and be done with it.

Instead, take the raw information from the photograph and process it and shift it. change that raw information into something new and engaging. Be highly selective about what visual information you choose to use.  Just because something is in the photograph, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to use it in your drawing. Think about yourself as an editor, where you get to choose from a vast buffet of visual information. Comb through all of the visual information in the photograph and use only what is going to help facilitate your drawing in a positive manner. I also find that it’s very helpful to work from multiple photographs, so that you are not so reliant on a single photograph for all of your information. You can take visual portions from each reference photo and mix them together according to your needs.

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Drawings that use photo references successfully always look better than the photo reference.  If the reference photo is more engaging than the drawing, then it means that the drawing hasn’t done anything to fully manipulate beyond just copying the reference photo.

In the above image, you can see that the drawing at the figure gripping it’s face has very aggressive charcoal marks that are not apparent in the reference photo.  The reference photo looks static, flat, and posed.  The drawing took major liberties with the charcoal marks and therefore is much more full of action and tension.

In the image below, you can see the student’s reference photos that he shot at the bottom.  The reference photos provide raw information, but the two drawings are far more interesting than the reference photos.  The reference photos have very flat, boring black backgrounds and the facial expressions are not very dynamic.  In the final drawings, the student greatly manipulated and distorted the facial expressions to make them much more dramatic and exaggerated.

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It’s extremely difficult to use a photographic reference well, very few people do it successfully.  In my drawing classes at RISD, I spend half the course giving assignments that must be done from direct observation the entire time. In the second half of the course, I open up references so that students can work from a variety of visual references:  imagination, from photos they shot for the specific drawing, from photos online. When I switch over to open references in my courses, the reaction of pretty much all the students is: “Thank goodness, this is going to be so much easier now that I don’t have to draw from life and I can work from photos!”

Actually, the complete opposite happens: students realize after the first critique that creating excellent reference photos is an art in itself.  I critique their photo references:  we talk about their light source, choice of location, their choice of models, what their models are wearing, the posing of the models-the works. So many problems emerge in the reference photos: tons of factors distract in the reference photo, the set up looks fake, etc. Making the transition from the reference photo to the drawing presents its own unique set of challenges which is not nearly as straightforward as many people initially think. Personally, I find drawing from a reference photo much more difficult than drawing from life, because the temptation to simply copy the photo is always there.  When you draw from observation, you have to visually interpret and innovate.

I firmly believe that the only way to truly learn how to draw from a photograph well is to establish a solid understanding of fundamentals in drawing with years and years of experience drawing from direct observation. Once you have solid skills drawing from direct observation, these skills will allow you to draw from a photograph successfully. This article talks about how direct observation will provide the basic foundation to be able to work from any visual references successfully.


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 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?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”

September Art Dare Submissions!

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By Clara Lieu

We’ve gotten lots of submissions to our September Art Dare on our Instagram!  We’ve been very excited to see all of the unique ways that everyone has approached our prompt of drawing a self-portrait from life using charcoal. In many ways, the Art Dare is a virtual version of what I do in my classes at RISD, where everyone is asked to respond to the same prompt. That’s one of my favorite aspects of being in a class-you get to see all of the diverse creative solutions created by several people. Many of my students have told me that they learn just as much from seeing each other’s work, as they do from me.

One part of the Art Dare that has been really fun to watch is everyone’s works in progress. Below you can see Lucy Springall’s progress on her self-portrait.  Lucy has been following my charcoal drawing tutorial on the Art Prof Youtube channel.  She did a terrific job making thumbnail sketches to plan out her composition, (below photo, upper left) and implementing cross-hatching marks in with an eraser stick and charcoal pencil.

Remember, you get brownie points for using the techniques in our charcoal drawing tutorial!  If you tag your Art Dare with #artprofwip, Prof Clara Lieu just might stop by and provide some feedback! More info on Art Dare guidelines/prizes/tips are here.

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For fun, I decided that I would do the Art Dare myself!  I drew and painted a ridiculous number of self-portraits as an undergraduate student at RISD, largely because I only wanted to work from life and I was the most convenient subject. The last time I did an assignment, or drew a self-portrait was back in 1998.  Of course, so much has happened since then, and I was curious to know how I would respond to this prompt.

I think for many people self-portraits are a tough subject.  The process of creating a self-portrait demands that you look at yourself for an unusually long period of time. This deep observation of your own physical features also tends to prompt thinking about identity.

I figure out a lot of my ideas when I’m running on the treadmill, and this drawing was no exception. My thoughts meandered for a while, and for the first few concepts tended to revert back to themes I had worked with in my last studio project, Falling. Most of my projects take 2-4 years to create, so it felt strange to brainstorm what I knew would be a stand alone piece that wouldn’t be seen in the context of a large body of work.  I needed an idea that was simple enough to be contained in a single artwork, but that also had enough depth that there would be plenty to explore.

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My thumbnail sketches


I settled on the idea that in recent years, my life has felt very fragmented. Before I became a parent, I always had the luxury of long periods of time to myself, and to work on my artwork. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I get even 2 hours at a time to create artwork, much less think focus. I see my life today as a series of constant interruptions, it’s rare that I will sit down to do a task, and be able to comfortably complete what I set out to do.  I fell that I live in a constant state of distraction, making it incredibly difficult to think clearly most of the time.

In my initial thumbnail sketches, I explored compositions which emphasized faces that tilted away from the center of the page, and eyes with pupils that wandered to the side. decided that I would have one face that would make eye contact with the viewer, to represent those rare moments of clarity that I experience. The rest of the faces would be distracted and looking away.

I set up a mirror and sketched myself from life, to make sure that I was using views that would be possible for me to pose for as I few. As I sketched though, I realized that features like the neck and the shoulders weren’t necessary, so I reduced the composition to just facial features so that the eyes would be more prominent. I didn’t want to just sit down and draw myself, because even though our physical appearance is a big part of who we are, it’s certainly not everything. I’m still staying within the prompt, which was to simply draw a self-portrait from life in charcoal. I’ve heard many people complain that drawing from life is to limited, and that there’s “nothing to draw.”  I’d like to show in my self-portrait that if you really think about what you want to do and work thoroughly on your thumbnail sketches, the visual possibilities when working from life are endless.

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My reference thumbnail for the final drawing


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.