Exploding with Ideas

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Lately it seems like my hands just can’t keep up with my mind.  I have 20 years of content that is dying to come out of my head for Art Prof, I have years of work to create for Scars that Speak, and today I had another idea for series of drawings that I’ll work on until the day I die.

Sounds dramatic, but I really mean it!  I always joke with my college students about how old and uncool I am, but it’s true; in recent years the process has become noticeable in a way it never was before. The process begins with silly things like watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and realizing that I have no idea who the celebrities he interviews are, or when I mention Woody Allen to a student and they reply with “Who’s that?”

In terms of my mindset, I notice that I care less and less every day about what other people in of me.  I remember being so preoccupied with how other people would react to what I did, both in terms of things small and large.  Today, I really could care less.  That’s a great feeling, it’s really liberating and lets you do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

Many years ago when I was traveling in Japan, I was at a temple in a rural area.  At this temple, there was this GIGANTIC metal bell hanging in the middle of the temple.  The bell was just begging to be rung, but of course, there was a big scary sign next to it that said “DO NOT RING THE BELL.”  I walked a few feet away from the bell, and then I heard the bell ringing!  Right after, I heard some giggling next to the bell.  Standing there were two elderly women, who were taking tremendous delight in their “offense.” I hope I get to that point some day.

While the shift of mindset is terrific, the physical changes in your body can be alarming, the way they creep up on you incrementally, or when you just notice them all of the sudden. My stomach never went back to the way it was before I had kids, my heels are hard and dry, and I’ve started to notice bags under my eyes for the first time. Two years ago I lost a lot of weight, and all of the sudden, the skin on my neck started to sag.  (I think when I weighed more, maybe that skin was backed up with fat?)  I felt like that happened practically overnight. Then the other day, I noticed a callous on my ankle bone that was totally numb.

Art Prof has been consuming my days lately, but I really need to keep drawing.  I don’t have time right now to devote entire days to drawing, so I’m settling for sketches.  Today I drew this fragment above, of the bags under my eyes that are emerging, and the dark patch I have on my right cheekbone. (don’t worry, I’ve had it checked) This sketch was a piece of my body that I see aging. I started thinking, what if I drew “drawing fragments” of the parts of my body that have started to show the aging process? A project like this would certainly satisfy my love of drawing from life,  (which I actually haven’t done for years) and would be manageable given my already hectic schedule. I’m also interested in the idea of coming back to directly drawing myself, given that in Falling, I used an actress as a surrogate for myself.

On the treadmill I began thinking about assembling these fragments to create a figure, except that large sections would be missing. I’d keep making these fragments until I assembled a figure, and then start again.  I would continue drawing these fragments, knowing that with each year, there will be more signs of aging, and the figure will become more complete.  Until I get to the point where all of the fragments are a full figure. I’m not sure I’ll have the patience for this, as it really would take years for a project like this to make sense.  I love that something new is percolating, as if I didn’t already have enough to do!

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.

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New Crit Quickies!

Crit Quickie featuring a watercolor painting by Tim van Iersal. Critique by Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch.


Crit Quickie, featuring a line drawing portrait by @mandaism. Critique by Teaching Assistant Alex Rowe.


Crit Quickie, featuring a painting of a vase of flowers by Ana-Maria Musat. Critique by Teaching Assistant Annie Irwin.


Crit Quickie, featuring a portrait painting by @panxsolajes.art. Critique by Teaching Assistant Annie Irwin.


Crit Quickies are 1 min. critiques by the Art Prof staff.  Submit! Post your art on Instagram and tag us @art.prof w/ #critquickie. Watch more Crit Quickies in this playlist on our Youtube channel.

We accept submissions from artists in 8th grade and up. Please know that due the volume of submissions, we are unable to provide a Crit Quickie for everyone who submits. If you’re an art teacher, you’re welcome to submit on behalf of your students!


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Drawing From a New Model

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by Clara Lieu

Last week I did a reference photo session with a new model.  Up until this point, I had only been working with Sheila, an artist model at RISD who has been a good friend for many years.

I really enjoy working with artist models, there’s an intimacy that occurs with your models that is unique. In general, when I work with models, I never tell them exactly how to pose. I’ll provide some basic ideas about what I want them to do, but I don’t give specifics about how to pose their figure. When I was in graduate school, I had this professor who was really obnoxious about demanding that the model pose precisely the way he wanted.  He would tell the model exactly how to orient or position pretty much every part of her body, and the result was always a really stiff pose that looked fake and awkward.

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With these drawings, I decided that I would give the models no direction at all.  Instead, I ask the model to stand and I talk to them during the photo shoot.  I want to capture the individual personalities of each model I work with, and it’s incredible how completely different the experience is with each person.

What was striking about this new model was her extraordinary range of facial expressions. As she talked, I was amazed that she would jump from a perky smile to a haggard, anguished look.  She told me all kinds of stories about her life during the photo session, and it was fascinating to watch her face change as her stories covered a wide range of emotions

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As I poured through the over 600 reference photos I shot, I was intrigued by the gigantic range of expressions.  What was engaging as well, was watching how the skin in her face pulled and stretched according to her facial expression.  The folds of skin were extremely dramatic, and I couldn’t wait to dig into some new drawings.

I shoot continuously during these photo sessions, so there is literally only half a second between most of the photos.  I found 2 consecutive photos that couldn’t have been more different.  The first photo was a very harrowing expression, which seemed tragic and pained.  The next photo was a warm, joyful smile. The way she could swing from one extreme emotion to the opposite side of the spectrum so quickly was really engaging to watch.

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I had this idea that I would work with these two photos, and layer them on top of the other to demonstrate the way she inhabited two such opposite emotions in such a short span of time. This drawing (below) is the first phase.  I’ll create the second drawing, and then create a few thumbnail sketches so I can figure out how to get the two drawings to interact through the layering and tearing of the paper.

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Related Articles
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork
Drawing Experiments:  Layered Drawings
The Tug of Thumbnail Sketches


Related Videos
Drawing Process for these Elderly 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.

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.

 

The Tug of Thumbnail Sketches

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by Clara Lieu

When I started working on these graphite drawings a few weeks ago, I hadn’t made any artwork for 2 years.  For this reason, I knew the most important thing was for me to just get my feet wet again, and to get a grip on my drawing approach and materials. Usually, I’m probably the world’s greatest advocate for doing thumbnail sketches, and if you’ve been my student, you’re likely wondering why I haven’t done any thumbnails in this project so far. When I started, I felt so out of touch from drawing that I decided that I simply wasn’t ready to be thinking yet.  I needed to get my hands on the materials, get myself back into the physical movements of drawing before I could even begin to compose anything.

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It was liberating to draw so spontaneously, with no plan in mind. I told myself I could keep doing this until I felt like I had “gotten back into shape.”  I knew eventually, my drawing process would lead me back to doing thumbnail sketches. Sure enough, after about 2 weeks of drawing spontaneously, I’m now feeling the need to create thumbnail sketches.

The last drawing experiment really suffered because I didn’t think through how I was going to compose the piece. I started out with 2 separate drawings,  (see above and below) deliberately making one portrait very dark and heavy, and another extremely light and ethereal. That visual imbalance was important to create so that the two drawings didn’t fight for attention the way they did in my last drawing.

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I tore into the first drawing (see below), but this ultimately was a poor choice because I ended up tearing the paper so that the piece stood on it’s own. Consequently, when I went to attach the second drawing to this torn one, I kept feeling like the second drawing was an intruder that was disrupting the first drawing. I could see myself trying to preserve specific areas of the first drawing, which then hindered my ability to merge the two drawings together effectively.

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This drawing taught me that I can’t do the “sculpting” of the paper in a linear manner; I have to plan in advance how the two drawings are going to interact in terms of the tearing. I had failed to consider how the two drawings would merge as three-dimensional pieces. Consequently, I ended up practically obliterating the second drawing so that I could preserve areas in the first drawing.

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One development that I was excited about in this drawing was my tearing technique.  At first, I was tearing and crunching up the paper in a random fashion.  For me, the choice of the tissue paper was to replicate in some way the transparency and thinness of human skin. I started looking at images of peeling skin (if you’re squeamish, I don’t recommend this!)  and examining the specific shapes and patterns that skin peels in. On many parts of the body, skin starts peeling when a small section becomes loose, and then the skin peels outwards.  I started poking holes into the drawing (see above, on the bottom left of the lip) and curling the tissue paper outwards to refer to the way human skin peels.

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Another positive development is that my enthusiasm for these drawings has only increased the more I work on them.  I have so many ideas and experiments I want to try out that my hands can’t keep up with my brain-a good problem for an artist to have.


Related Articles
My Poisonous Checklist
One Simple Purpose
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork
Drawing Experiments:  Layered Drawings


Related Videos
Drawing Process for these Elderly Drawings
How to Draw Thumbnail Sketches:  Line
How to Draw Thumbnail Sketches:  Tone


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.

Drawing Experiment: Layered Drawings

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by Clara Lieu

This afternoon was an extremely rare event for me:  6 continuous hours of uninterrupted time in the studio. I worked on a second drawing, knowing that my plan would be to layer this new drawing on top of the drawing I did previously.

The hardest part of working on this second drawing (see below) is that I knew that the vast majority of work I did on it would eventually be ripped to shreds. It can be painful to throw out work that you spent a lot of time on, but I strongly believe that being too precious about your artwork can be a severe limitation in your progress. Especially in an early stage in a project, it’s critical to be able to throw things out.  You never know what you might gain in the process.

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I can see that my marks with the woodless pencil are becoming much less picky and more confident. I’ve never really used woodless pencils this intensively before, but I can tell that my strokes are bolder now. Even my physical movements when I’m drawing feel much more efficient and assertive.  I think part of this is gaining familiarity with this tool, but also I’m feel a lot less rusty now that I’ve been drawing for a few weeks.

 

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Once I finished the second drawing, I placed it on top of the first drawing. (see above) Placing these two drawings together was really surprising.  I started seeing the drawings as three-dimensional sculptures and thinking about how they balanced with each other. I had some major structural problems with the top drawing nearly falling to pieces, so I started using Scotch tape on the back of the drawings to make sure they didn’t rip in important points.

I actually ended up using lots of Scotch tape throughout the entire piece.  It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be practical if the piece had to be re-constructed every time I wanted to hang it up on a wall. So I put Scotch tape to attach the two drawings together at key points, so that the piece would be able to hold it’s shape.

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I really enjoyed the entire process, because there were two layers of tissue paper, I was able to make the piece much more sculptural.  Looking at the final piece, (see above) I do think that the two drawings are fighting each other quite a bit, and that they look too similar.  I realized a better way to balance the drawings would be to have one drawing be more dark and concrete, and for the other to be lighter and more ethereal. When I created the two drawings, I thought about them as separate entities, which is why they ultimately didn’t work together very well.

Still, this was a really exciting experiment. In the next sketch, I’m going to try making one drawing visibly darker and more concrete, while the other drawing will be much lighter and more ethereal.  Hopefully that advance thinking on the construction of the piece will allow for a more effective relationship between the two drawings.

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Related Articles
My Poisonous Checklist
One Simple Purpose
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork
D
rawing Experiments:  La


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.