Patience, Patience, Patience


Self-Portrait from Life,  video course

Yesterday I was speaking to my Art Prof partner Thomas Lerra, about the pacing of the project and whether I was doing everything that I “should” be doing at this point. Tom has been so important to Art Prof because he has several decades of experience in digital production and strategy that I simply don’t have. I’ve taught my studio courses at RISD so many times, that I have confidence in my ability to evaluate where my students should be at midterm, and what I expect to see by the end of the semester.  With Art Prof, I have no clue about what type of timeline I’m supposed to be on.  Most of the time, I feel like I am just making things up as I go along, which is really exhilarating, but also tough as well!

For me, comparisons to athletics always work well when I think about my projects, specifically, marathons. The three years we spent developing Art Prof was the training period before you run the actual marathon.  Launching was us starting the actual marathon itself.


Q&Art video:  Getting a Critique

Now comes the tough part:  you just have to keep going for a while, and to a certain degree, it’s simply a matter of time.  I think in some ways this can be the most challenging part of the process.  At the beginning of the marathon, there’s the initial thrill of getting started which is really exciting.  Then that adrenaline rush dies down and you realize how much further you have to go.

I’m a pretty impatient person by nature, so Art Prof is definitely testing my patience to a degree that I never thought was possible.  Generally speaking, I can stay focused on the crazy multitude of tasks I have to do every day to maintain video production and keep maintained.  However lately, I’ve had some brief moments of sinking doubt that I really need to break out of. Coming up with ideas and producing content for Art Prof is the easy part. The most difficult part is keeping your faith in the project.

Tom said to me yesterday that at some point, a “bike” might appear that we can ride on for the marathon. But until then, I have to keep running.


Art Supply Encyclopedia

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

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy

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

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.


Enter the October Art Dare!

Art Prof October Art Dare

(Drawing above by Prof Clara Lieu. Watch her drawing process here)

There are infinite ways to interpret this theme! You could portray what you desire your future self to be, what you fear your future self could become, etc. We’re excited because this theme has the potential to be tragic, hilarious, odd, melodramatic, serious, and more.

No human faces in your drawing
Why?  Because many people default to the cliche of drawing their physical appearance to show themselves.  We’re challenging you to find a more unusual approach!

Subscribe to the Art Dares email list and be notified on the first day of each month!


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Watch this tutorial by Prof Clara Lieu below for how to brainstorm, sketch, and begin your final drawing. A mind map and thumbnail sketches counts as a submission!

Any drawing media on black paper. (no paint) Drawings can be in black & white or color. Tip: If you draw with white media on the black paper, your black media is your “eraser”!
Suggestions below, but really, any drawing media is game!
Caran d’Ache crayons, conte crayons, pastel pencils, white china markerscolored pencils, chalk pastels, oil pastels.

Check out these examples of drawings done on black paper:

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To Submit
Post your artwork on Instagram, tag us  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 Mon., Oct. 31 @ 11:59pm EST
Questions?  Comment below or Email us.

Artist Prizes
We award prizes in categories based on the submissions we receive. In the past, prizes we’ve given have included “Tremendous Improvement,” “Innovative Brainstorming,” and Honorable Mentions. The prize winners receive: Prof Lieu’s book Learn, Create and Teach and a 10 min. video critique on 3-5 artworks from Prof Lieu.
Honorable mentions will win an Art Prof sticker set.

cover     Dessery Dai, Art School Admissions Art Portfolio Art Prof art supply stickers designed by Janice Chun

Art Teacher’s Prize
Art Teachers: assign this Art Dare to one of your classes! One class will win a large Art Prof sticker for each student, and a class video critique from Prof Lieu. (watch below) In the class video critique, each student will receive a 1 minute critique on an artwork of their choice. Limit of 25 students. Grades 8 and up are eligible to enter.

Submission Guidelines for Art Teachers
If you have an Instagram for your classroom, you can post your students’ artwork there. Encourage your students to post their submissions on their own accounts as well! For each submission, tag us w/ #artprofdare. Use #artprofwip, and Prof Lieu might drop by and give feedback to your students!

Your official class submission must be done via DropBox or Google Drive.  Place your students’ artworks in a folder, and then share the folder to Prof Lieu‘s email.

To be eligible for a prize, your artwork must be created specifically for this Art Dare, and must follow all guidelines.

Related Videos
Charcoal Drawing Tutorial:  Line Thumbnails, Part 4 of 20
Charcoal Drawing Tutorial:  Tone Thumbnails, Part 5 of 20
Charcoal Drawing Tutorial:  Finishing, Part 20 of 20
Ask the Art Prof Live #4:  Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series
Ask the Art Prof Live #3:  Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
Crit Quickie #13: Figure Drawing on Black Paper

Related Articles
“How do you begin to think conceptually as a visual artist?”
“How does an artist come up with ideas?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”How To Brainstorm
How to Create a Dynamic Composition
“How do artists manage to get their soul out into images?”
“How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?”
“When do you let go of an idea?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”

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

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy

Drawing: Seeing “through” the Figure

This week I’m moving along with these crayon sketches drawn on tracing paper over sheets of sanded Dura-Lar.   A large part of my drawing approach is about the interaction of the crayon with this textured surface, and this sketch tchnique is working really well to simulate the final drawing surface.  I think about these sketches more as “rubbings” than as anything else.

I’ve been trying to take this idea of transparency and seeing “through” the figure a few steps further during my drawing sessions today; with the more complex poses this approach has been very useful.  It’s also helped for me to do some simple and quick line-based gesture drawings to emphasize the transparency of the figure before moving onto more sustained, tonal drawings. After a few tough drawing sessions last week, things are finally starting to fall into place.

Crayon Study

I did start some more sustained drawings, although I’m still keeping them fairly short at around 20 minutes each.  It’s interesting that no matter how many times I sit down to draw I always have a need to set “rules” for the day.  Today’s rules are: start light, build gradually, resist lines, draw through the figure, and save the black. None of these are new ideas, but they help me stay on course in terms of what I’m trying to achieve.

Crayon Study

Studio Visit with Tony Janello

This past Friday afternoon I drove to Rhode Island for a studio visit with Tony Janello.  He is one of the four artists exhibiting in an upcoming show that I’m curating, titled “Transformations”.  This exhibition is coming up in March 2010 at the Jewett Gallery at Wellesley College where I’m the Gallery Director. We first met in 1998 when I was a student in his painting class in the Illustration Department at RISD during my senior year.  I now teach Drawing at RISD in Foundation Studies and he’s continued to teach Painting and Drawing in the Illustration Department since then.  We’ve kept in touch over the years since I graduated, and it was very exciting to visit his studio and get some insight on his thoughts and creative process.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Janello’s process involves many phases and transformations in a range of media. He creates essentially paper mache sculptures which are then lit and photographed, with the sculpture as a means to the photography. The role of photography as the final result allows him tremendous visual flexibility with the sculptures that he would otherwise not have. I was impressed by how much his photographs looked like paintings; they had an incredible atmosphere and depth that transcended the sculptures themselves.

What is astonishing about these sculptures is how low-tech they are in terms of construction and materials. For the interior structures of the sculptures, he uses sonotubes, which are extremely strong cardboard tubes that are used in construction for pouring concrete columns.  You can see in the photo below on the sculpture on the far left an example of one of the sonotubes that he’s sawed into a ring to hold the sculpture up. On top of the sonotube structure, he uses paper towels dipped in elmer’s glue to sculpt the heads into more detail. These materials also allow the sculptures to be highly durable, yet lightweight at the same time.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Below is an example of how Janello uses backgrounds and creates sets for his sculptures.  The backgrounds are created from thin sheets of plywood which are then painted to reflect surface, texture, and writing. Several of his backgrounds feature the visual look of a chalkboard which has writing layered over itself continuously.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Below are some experiments for adding yet another phase in his process: after he photographed the sculptures, he drew on the digital prints using crayons.  In this series below, there is a progression in the images where he is “healing” the “injury” in the sculpture’s head by drawing with cross-hatched marks on the images with crayon. Janello was a portrait painter for many years , and it seems like this is a perfect way to work in his experience in drawing into his current work.  These pieces above are still very early in their development, but we discussed the possibility of creating works with this process for the “Transformations” show.

Anthony Janello's Studio

The back of this sculpture seen in the photo below reveals the interior structure of the sculptures, created from sawed up strips of sonotubes.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Below is a close up view of one of his sculpture heads, where the painting process and surface texture of the sculptures is apparent. For more information about Janello’s work, you can visit this previous blog post from the Jewett Gallery’s blog which features his artist statement. To see more images from Janello’s studio, visit the Jewett Gallery’s Flickr page.

Anthony Janello's Studio

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

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy

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

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.


I had my last day in the studio, ending the day with the drawings complete and ready for installation.  I went through several finishing tasks:  cleaning the drawings, final adjustments on a few drawings, and attaching the monofilament fishing line used to hang the drawings.

I hadn’t planned on re-working the three drawings I completed last August, but there was one drawing in particular, “Unseen III”,  that I always felt was lacking in subtlety.  I spent most of the morning on this drawing softening edges, removing dark passages, and refining gradations of black on the top layer.

Unseen III
“Unseen III”, with revisions

Cleaning the drawings is time consuming, but quite necessary since the drawings  look sloppy otherwise.  Since the drawings are made of several layers of Dura-Lar on top of each other, the crayon naturally wants to adhere in areas where I don’t want it to.  I spent many hours yesterday and today wiping the Dura-Lar with a cotton rag and erasing with a Mars plastic eraser to remove unwanted spots of crayon.

Attaching the monofilmanet fishing line was the most tedious task by far.  The last time I installed these drawings, I didn’t do a very accurate job and the consequence was that it was tough to get the drawings to all hang at exactly the same height. I worked out a better system this time around that will be much more reliable and accurate. 

Final Drawings

Drawing: Final Adjustments

I revisited the first three drawings today to make final adjustments.  I’ve been away from the left and middle drawing for some time now, so it was nice to be able to approach them with a fresh eye.  The left drawing required the most significant amount of re-working; it was the first drawing I worked on back in January,  and since then my drawing technique and approach has changed quite a bit. The challenge was retaining the original intent of the drawing while also allowing the drawing to “catch up” with the others.  The main difference was that I wasn’t drawing with knives with the left drawing, so the majority of the work was focused on removing crayon to push the figures in the back further into the distance.

Three Drawings

Drawing with Knives

This week I’ve been working in the drawing studio at Wellesley College; it’s spring break this week so I have the whole studio to myself.  I’m working on the fourth and final drawing, and also putting on the finishing touches and conducting a final evaluation these drawings as a group this entire week.  Stepping back and looking at these drawings from a distance has become very important so that I can scrutinize minor adjustments that need to get made.  I have a small space at home I work in, but getting distance on the work is impossible in that space.

I put in two long studio days yesterday and today which enabled me to nearly complete this fourth and final drawing. I started using an exacto-knife which offered more options in terms of scratching away at the Dura-Lar surface. The matt knife I’ve been using to scratch at the crayon is rather dull which allows me to remove the crayon in a more gradual manner.  The exacto-knife was much sharper and aggressive, giving me the ability to remove greater quantities of crayon more quickly.

Detail of a Drawing

In the above detail, you can more clearly see the different kinds of marks created by scratching away at the crayon surface. I like that up close, you can see black lines on white and also white lines on white between the direct crayon drawing and knife work.

Fourth Drawing, in progress