Monday, February 29, 2016

Learning to See

   

As an art teacher, I learned early on that drawing is rooted in perception, and not so much about motor skill.  In class, I like to spout little catchy cliches, like, "Look longer, see more" or "Art is an action of the eye before it is a work of the hand."  Or, as some people much more famous and important than me have said, "People who look hardest in the end will be good artists" (David Hockney) and "It is my contention that most people, including many artists, do not use their eyes to really see, but only to identify objects" (Fletcher Martin).  It's not unusual for me to take away a student's pencil while she works on an observation drawing and tell her bluntly, "Now draw."  Many of my students probably think I'm a little crazy (they may be right), but there is method to my madness, and it's always satisfying when a student learns to use their "eyes to really see," not simply to identify objects.

Today, a student brought in a lion drawing she created in 10th grade (above, on the left).  She--now a 12th grader--wanted to compare it to a recent lion drawing she created a couple months ago (seen above, on the right).   As I'm sure you'll notice, there is a notable difference, which is due to the development of this student's willingness to use her eyes to really see.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Can you spot the differences?

I was never really happy with my painting, "Long Voyage In A Small Boat." It had been sitting on a shelf in my classroom for about a year and it never felt like it was complete.  I had given up early on a few parts.  I finally decided to revisit it and rework some areas.  Can you spot the differences (other than some obvious color corrections)?

New
Old
    
Prints of the new version are available at INPRNT.com.  

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Art Prints Now Available

I am making prints of some of my artwork available at www.inprnt.com.  These are gallery-quality giclee art prints on 100% cotton rag archival paper, printed with archival inks.  The first print I am releasing is "The First Christmas Eve".  Sizes available:  8x9 for $15; 12x14 for $25.



Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Guiding Light

Here is another in a long series of paintings that I start then set aside for a year, then return to.  It's a problem I have.  I blame my attention span which probably hasn't improved since 5th grade.

As for the painting . . .
There comes a time when each of us must find the truth for ourselves and be guided by our own faith.
Oils over acrylics on canvas.



Prepping to Paint, Part 2


I'm progressing slowly on this because a number of other projects have priority, but I wanted to post a photo of the second step on this project/experiment.  After "fixing" the powdered charcoal and ink, I then applied a generous coat of white glue over the canvases.  While the glue was still wet, I painted a fairly even coat of cadmium red medium acrylic on top of the glue.  As it dried, the glue pulled and cracked the paint, exposing the charcoal beneath.  I really enjoy watching the random beauty that occurs through this process.  Now  I just need to figure out what to paint on them.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Brain on the Shelf

    

Late last night I decided to organize my "library", which is a single wall of bookshelves that I built in my basement last year.  I promised my wife I would confine my book collection to those shelves, which has become a problem because the shelves are already full.  Basically, that means for every new book I buy, I have to get rid of an old book to make room.

Around midnight, I realized that I hate this agreement because I am not very good at letting go of books.

Also, I realized that when I organize my library, I am really organizing my brain.  Through my library, I am able to catalog my thoughts along with my books.  You won't find anything even close to the Dewey decimal system, but you will find books grouped by topic, and a particular group of books will sit next to another group because I see a connection between the two.  For example, on one side of a shelf I have books about Art Education and on the other side of the same shelf are books about the development of creativity, and right between them are the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Seeing the books organized in this way helps me visualize the connections between ideas that are occurring in my head.  In another section are books on the outdoors, leadership, and Scouting. These sit right below books published by Outward Bound, and above that are books on theories and practices of education. Again, they are all interconnected and their organization on the shelves helps me see patterns and relationships. There are also sections for religion, history, science, fiction, and many others.  There are a lot of books, each connected to one thought or thousands of thoughts, and sometimes it's really hard to find the right place for each of them.  And when the ideas in my head change, I find myself rearranging the books, sometimes moving whole sections and sometimes reclassifying only a book or two.  I try to make them fit, both physically and conceptually, on the shelves.  And when there is no more room, I have to evaluate which thoughts are worth keeping.

I realize now that I am not very good at letting go of ideas.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Prepping to Paint

One of the things I like best about my painting of Virginia Woolf  is the texture created by layering charcoal, white glue, and acrylic paint.  Tonight, I laid the groundwork for two small paintings using the same technique. I used General's powdered charcoal and a spray bottle with water to apply the charcoal across the canvases. I then experimented by dropping ink onto the canvases as well.  Overall, I like the effect.  Much of it will be lost as I apply glue and paint, but elements of it will sneak through, helping make the final painting more visually interesting.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Layering with Elmer's Glue and Acrylic Paint


Today I tried something new, at least for me.  It wasn't the path I planned to take, but in the end it was better.  I set out to create a charcoal drawing based on a 1902 photo of Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford.  The drawing wasn't progressing to my liking, so in a fit of artistic rage, I attacked the image with a kneaded eraser.  What was left was a ghost image of Virginia.  I figured this was a good time to experiment.  Inspired by a collage piece I recently read about, I brushed Elmer's glue over the whole image then spread red acrylic paint over the glue while it was still wet.  As it dried, the paint began to crack and form into unique textures.  Once dry, I painted the face and shoulders using black and white acrylic. It still didn't feel complete, so I put another coat of Elmer's glue over the image and applied more reds, some yellows, and a small touch of blue.  Later, I added more details until I felt mostly satisfied.  

I definitely want to explore the technique further.  It added some great texture to the painting, and it was simply fun.  The rapid drying time of the glue and paint allowed me to complete the painting in only a couple hours.  I could probably spend another hour or so on small details, but I consider the experiment successful and will let the painting stand as is.