Hillary Clinton and #scarsthatspeak

by Clara Lieu

2016 was the first year I created political art. In this video, I demonstrate my drawing process and explain #scarsthatspeak, my new series of drawings of Hillary Clinton, and the older generations of women, inspired by the 2016 presidential election.


Related Articles
#scarsthatspeak
Generations of Women and the Scars They Walk With
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


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.

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Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories, and post select submissions on our Instagram  and other sites throughout the month. Use #artprofwip and Prof Clara Lieu might just stop by and give you some feedback! We have a special prize for art teachers who assign the Art Dare to one of their classes. More info is here.


Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

 

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Recent Crit Quickies!

Crit Quickie, featuring a comic panel by Myke Metts. Critique by Teaching Assistant Casey Roonan.


Crit Quickie, featuring a grisaille portrait painting by @tgarney. Critique by Teaching Assistant Alex Rowe.


Crit Quickie, featuring a painting of a tree by @bethanynmurray. 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.

FB   Youtube    tumblr    Pinterest    LinkedIn    Instagram    Twitter    snap_chat   email

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.

Teaching Through My Artwork

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by Clara Lieu

Even though I started this new series of drawings just 2 weeks ago, I can already see that my drawing style has changed quite a bit since the first drawing. These beginning stages of a project are always quite exhilarating because the progress feels so fast and immediate.  I’m not committed to anything at this point in the project, so there’s no pressure to produce to achieve specific results.

My drawing materials have stayed the same since I started this series:  graphite powder, woodless pencils, drawing pencils, eraser stick, and kneaded eraser.  In this recent drawing experiment, (see below) the plan is to create 2 or 3 drawings and layer them on top of each other. I’ll tear each drawing so that the drawing underneath will be visible through the rips of the drawing on top. I’m anticipating that with the multiple layers of drawings, the image will likely be too busy. However, at this point, I’ll learn more when I do too much.  Scaling back and removing things is always much easier than having to reinvent new aspects every time.

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I’ve continued shooting 1 minute process videos which I’ve been posting on my Instagram. (the longer versions I post on the Art Prof Youtube channel.) Usually when I’m teaching in a classroom, I intentionally don’t discuss my personal artwork with my students. I don’t want students to think that I want them to make artwork that looks like mine, or for them to think that I prefer artwork that looks a certain way. (In fact, sometimes I’m more likely to like a piece when it’s not at all similar to my own artwork.  Sometimes it’s the artworks that are so completely different from mine that I’m most attracted to, simply because I can’t wrap my head around making work like that) Instead, I wait until the last day of class to do a slideshow about my work.  At that point, the students know me well enough that I feel comfortable discussing my own work with them.

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Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how teaching online is a completely different story.  The context is not remotely the same as an academic classroom in a degree program.  I have no control over how people will find my work, or in what order they will see my content in. I had never considered this, but perhaps the way I need to approach teaching online is through both 1) teaching tutorials, and 2) process videos of my own artwork.

When I think about it, these 2 types of videos really have the potential to complement each other well. One of my inherent concerns with the teaching tutorials is that the demo piece that is created in the tutorial tends to have a more generic look. In a teaching tutorial, I’m trying to show universal skills that are applicable across the board to all artists, so I purposely try to leave out my own drawing style. The process videos of my own artwork show a level of specificity and focus that the teaching tutorials will never have. On the other hand, the process videos show techniques that won’t be relevant to everyone because of how specific they are, and many fundamentals aren’t addressed.  The teaching tutorials really do provide the core basics, which everyone studying visual arts needs to know.

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I like this idea of pairing the teaching tutorials and the process videos of my artwork to teach online.  I can imagine that in areas where one format is insufficient, the other can fill in the blanks.  I have always thought of my studio practice as being related to my teaching.  However, this is the first time that I have ever thought about my studio practice as being a literal teaching tool. Not sure whether this pairing will work out, but I’m excited about this new initiative, and willing to give it a shot.


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


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.

FB   Youtube    tumblr    Pinterest    LinkedIn    Instagram    Twitter    snap_chat   email

Drawing Again After a 2 Year Drought

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by Clara Lieu

It’s been 2 years since I made any artwork.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t make any artwork until I really wanted to, and when it would be fun again. I never suspected it would take 2 years to get me back into my studio practice, and that certainly is the longest hiatus I have ever taken from my studio work. Part of me felt terribly guilty for not producing any artwork for so long, but I really needed that time away to reset.  Turned out it was worth the long wait, because as I had hoped, an idea for a new drawing series naturally emerged this past June.

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All I know at this point is that I want to do nude drawings of elderly bodies. Sometimes I have a strong idea for a project, and I have to work hard to find the right images to communicate that idea.  This time, I know what the images are, but I’m not sure yet what concept is behind this series.  I am trusting that the ideas will eventually reveal themselves as I continue to draw and learn more about my subject.

Eventually, I want to collaborate with local nursing homes on this project so I can draw people from life, but it’s so early in this series that I need to experiment and sketch for a while before I get to that point. I just needed to get my feet wet first, so I started by working with Sheila, an artist model at RISD who I first met as a freshman in 1994. Sheila and I become good friends my senior year at RISD, and we stayed in touch for many years before I returned to teach at RISD in 2007.  Today, she models for my classes at RISD, and I cherish our conversations. So it was so lovely to have a reason to draw Sheila again.

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I’m using graphite powder, 6B and 9B woodless pencils, a kneaded eraser, and an eraser stick to draw on tissue paper. I’m surprised that I chose pencil; in general I don’t care for pencil much because especially with my students, people stiffen up a lot when using a pencil. My way around this is to begin the drawing by digging my bare hands into graphite powder, and then pushing the powder into the surface of the drawing with my fingers. The graphite powder is horrifically messy, but it allows me to cover large areas of the drawing very quickly, and then go back in with the woodless pencil to solidify details.

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I chose tissue paper because of how thin and fragile of a surface it is, and I liked that it could crumple, much the way that elderly skin does. At first, I was frustrated with the tissue paper because it was so fragile that I felt like I had to walk on eggshells as I drew.  I am usually pretty physical and aggressive when I draw, so it felt strange to draw on a paper that I knew could fall apart at any second. I could feel myself holding back my drawing process, which I knew wasn’t going to get good results.

Last night, I realized that if the tissue paper wanted to tear during the drawing process, I should just let it tear.  When your materials want to do something, you should let them run their natural course, at the very least to give it a shot and see what happens. Not only was the drawing process much more lively, but I think the rips in the draw contribute to the overall atmosphere of the piece. The drawing also has an irregular shape, which I’m surprised I’ve never done before.

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The practical aspect of these drawings helps too:  the supplies are minimal and not hazardous, so I can easily work at home. These sketches only take about 1 hour to create, so they are not too time consuming to create.  Given that I have crazy amounts of work to do on Art Prof everyday, that’s a huge difference.

These drawings remind me why I wanted to be an artist in the first place, something I haven’t felt for several years. For the first time that I can remember, drawing is fun again.

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Related Videos
Drawing a Portrait in Pencil, Clara Lieu
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching


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


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.