Make Your Art a Necessity

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by Deepti Menon

One of my greatest struggles as an artist has been staying motivated to create my own artwork while balancing all my other responsibilities. I’d always hoped that chunks of free time would be an opportunity to just create anything and everything.

However, jobs, internships, or just day-to-day activities were exhausting. Working on personal projects would just frustrate me more. My mind was in so many different places, so I would end up just staring at the paper or craving something less stressful. This became cycle of continuous frustration.

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During my time in art school, I had a professor who always emphasized the importance of working on bits of our projects everyday, rather than all at once. She emphasized the importance of working daily, making it a routine we cannot avoid. Recently, I was reminded of this important lesson through Art Prof itself!

Having recently graduated, “real-life” responsibilities started to consume my time and my art was left behind. That is until I saw Art Prof teaching assistant Lauryn Welch’s Art Hack video in which she explains how one should treat their art like hygiene – a daily necessity. If I can allot time each day to brush my teeth, shower, etc., I should do so with my art. After seeing Lauryn’s video, I started forcing myself to do something creative for at least 15 minutes a day. No rules, just create.

I started doing a rapid-fire doodle marathon right before bed, or I would take reference photographs on my walk to work. Waiting for bread to toast or pasta to boil became a creative opportunity. I brought my sketchbook everywhere and started finding inspiration in everything. Working daily in small amounts was so much easier to do, and there was no pressure.

The best thing about these quick spurts of creation is that I would forget about it afterwards. I’d place these creative moments between two tasks, or during a longer activity. By doing this, I wouldn’t have that much time to spend on each creation and, afterwards, I couldn’t dwell on what I wasn’t happy with. However, when I wanted to sit down and spend most of the day working on my artwork, I had an arsenal of ideas I could revisit. This process really validated my ideas as well; when I revisited my sketchbook, I saw what I was capable of doing in such a short amount of time, creating excitement, confidence, and inspiration to move forward.

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I realized that just making work and exploring ideas was more important than worrying about the end-product. I was able to just play around and put anything in my head onto paper, which was so informative when tackling larger projects.

Integrating the creative process into my daily life, making it a part of my daily routine, took off the pressure of making something “good”, it just forced me to create.

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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.

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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October Art Dare: From Brainstorming to Thumbnail Sketches

by Clara Lieu

Follow the videos above for how to get started brainstorming and sketching our your idea for our October Art Dare:  “Your Future Self.”

Many of my students have told me in the past that they want to be able to develop artworks that have beefier subjects, express a specific opinion, or portray a narrative. Students are always asking me “How do I get my ideas?” While technique is a significant part of creating art,ultimately, it’s the ideas behind the artwork that really matter. Learning how to think about you artwork is a critical part of being an artist I find is frequently not addressed.  This month’s Art Dare is a terrific opportunity to stretch your artistic thinking muscles and push your artwork beyond just your drawing technique.

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Mind map of “Your Future Self” by @jademagpie


The prompt “Your Future Self” is very open to interpretation, and therefore challenges you to think about your subject matter and creating original imagery. In many ways, open ended prompts can be more difficult because there’s so much to choose from. In the above videos, I demonstrate how to pour your ideas on paper and then whittle them down to more focused sketches. I discuss how to transition from the brainstorming process to drawing thumbnail sketches to prepare the compositions for the final drawing.

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Final Drawing of “Your Future Self” by @ashleighroserob


Create your own mind map/thumbnail sketches in response to “Your Future Self”, and it counts as a submission for this month’s Art Dare!  More videos to guide you through every step of this Art Dare are coming.  We hope you’ll follow along and complete this month’s Art Dare with us.

Submit your brainstorming/thumbnail sketches on Instagram using #artprofdare and tag us @art.prof!  If you don’t have Instagram, you can post your image on our Facebook page. Get more info on the October Art Dare/prizes/tips here.

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Final Drawing of “Your Future Self” by @michaelbuesking


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. 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?”

Enter the October Art Dare!

Art Prof October Art Dare

“YOUR FUTURE SELF”
(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.

Requirement
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!


Media
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 @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 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 @art.prof 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. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy

Free Art Portfolio Review Event on Oct. 23 in Concord, MA

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FREE ART PORTFOLIO REVIEW EVENT!
Sunday, Oct. 23, 12-4pm

Concord Center for the Visual Arts
37 Lexington Rd., Concord, MA, 01742
(978) 369-2578


Bring your art portfolio and get 1 or more 15 minute one-on-one reviews from the ART PROF staff. Unique opportunity to receive diverse feedback from several trusted professionals all in one day! Great chance for high school students working on a portfolio for college admission and for professional artists working on a body of work. This event is free, but registration is required to be guaranteed a review. Scroll down for registration info.

Can’t make it?
To be notified of future events, subscribe to our email list.

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Portfolio Requirements
Please bring 5-8 artworks in any media. We prefer to see actual artwork, but we can also view artwork on laptops/tablets.

Registration
This event is free, but advance registration is required to be guaranteed a review. You can register for a maximum of 3 slots in advance of the event day.  Please do not register for more than 1 slot with the same reviewer, all slots you sign up for must be with different reviewers. Every participant must register themselves with their own email address. Please do not register for more than 1 person using the same email address.

Registration for the Oct. 23 event is NOW OPEN!

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If there are still slots open the day of the event,  you can sign up for as many reviews as you want, on a first-come, first-serve basis. (there is still a limit of 1 slot per reviewer the day of the event) You are welcome to show up the day of the event without registering in advance, however, we cannot guarantee that you will receive a review. If you are not present at your slot time, your slot will be given to someone else. 

Contact

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Hear what our past event participants had to say!

“I found our review very helpful in fine-tuning the direction with my work.”
“Your team was amazing! I feel blessed to have been part of this day.”
“Both portfolio reviewers I talked to were encouraging and helpful.”


Portfolio Reviewers

Clara Lieu is an Adjunct Professor at RISD, a Partner at Art Prof, and a fine artist who works in drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. She wrote Ask the Art Prof, an advice column for visual artists for the Huffington Post for 3 years, and now hosts a weekly live video broadcast of the column on her Facebook page.  Watch her portfolio critiques here, her Crit Quickies here, and see her charcoal drawing tutorial here.


Casey Roonan is freelance illustrator, a cartoonist, and a Teaching Assistant at Art Prof. Casey does editorial illustrations for the blog Narratively, and other clients. He writes and edit an anthology-format comic book called Ciambella with Mike Karpiel. Listen to some of Casey’s critiques here.


Lauryn Welch is a painter, a performance artist, and a Teaching Assistant at Art Prof.  She currently teaches at the Peterborough Art Academy.  Her artwork was featured on the cover of Art New England, and was recently shown in “Portraits, Expanded” at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. Listen to some of Lauryn’s critiques here.


Deepti Menon is an independent filmmaker, an animator, and a Teaching Assistant at Art Prof. She has worked with Nickelodeon’s international on-air promotional team as a motion graphic artist. Recently, her independent work has been shown in North America and is scheduled to be shown in India this fall. Listen to one of Deepti’s critiques here.


Leyla Faye is a Painting major at the Rhode Island School of Design. She works primarily in oil paint, but is also a printmaker with expertise in monotype, mezzotint and drypoint. Her cartooned and distorted figures are used as motifs which are composed into surreal patterns. Leyla has been a Teaching Assistant for RISD Project Open Door, the RISD Pre-College program, and RISD Freshman Drawing. Recently, Leyla studied abroad in Rome and was awarded the 2016 Gamblin Paint Award. Listen to one of Leyla’s critiques here.


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.

Art Prof Pinterest: High School and College Level Student Studio Art Projects

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by Clara Lieu

Since 2009, I have maintained a crazy gigantic archive of student art projects on my Flickr page. Once I got started documenting all of the student art projects, the perfectionist side of me had to keep going, so it’s incredible how many images I’ve amassed over the years. When you have taught at numerous schools and programs for over a decade, and have had over a thousand students, that makes for tons of student artwork images! Good thing too, because these student artworks have been a priceless resource building all of the content needed for Art Prof.  (more soon, but our official site will be launching in a few months!)

My fabulous Teaching Assistants at RISD have spent countless hours photographing student artwork, tweaking all of the photos in Photoshop, and uploading/organizing all of these images student art projects for many years. Without their efforts and time, this archive could never exist!

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Seeing that few artists and art teachers are on Flickr, I recently revamped our Pinterest page as a new place for to view my student art projects. (I’ve organized all of the boards on our Pinterest page so that you can browse by level (high school & college) and also by subject matter. Boards have subjects like Linear Perspective, Drawings in Color, Sculpture, Printmaking, Painting, Narrative Drawings, and much more.

I hope our Pinterest page is a valuable resource for both art teachers and art students!  I know when I was a student, I learned tremendously from just seeing the artwork that my peers were creating, and seeing the incredible range of unique responses to every assignment.  That’s what I find so fascinating about teaching studio art-you could teach the exact same project 35 times, and every single time each student will create their own unique take on the assignment.

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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.

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: Teaching High School Art, Teaching Color


Related Articles
“How do I become an undergraduate art professor?
“What should I be working on now if I would like to be an art professor?”
“What makes a student artist stand out from their peers?”
“How did you become an art professor?”
“How do I become a teaching assistant?”
“How can I make the transition to teaching art at the college level?”
“Can a math teacher become an art teacher?”

An Intersection of Drawing and Sculpture

One of the aspects of being an artist that I really enjoy is the surprises that occur within the creative process that you can never predict.  When I started this series of drawings of elderly figures, I never anticipated that these drawings would eventually become so sculptural. I have a lot of experience in figure modeling and casting, but I still consider myself to be largely an artist who works in two-dimensional media.  This project is an exception in that I’ve been able to combine sculptural qualities directly into the context of drawing.

Graphite Drawing on Tissue Paper by RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages 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.