I made an "A". Yes, yes I did. I finally figured out that the way to make an "A" is not to necessarily be the best in your class. You just have to show up and do the work, and then, do it in the way that your professor explains and teaches you to do it. Then, the work progresses and improves. I know some of those kids didn't get "A"s because they just didn't show up to do the work. For whatever reason, it wasn't something they wanted to do. They were satisfied with the fact that they might get a "B", "C", or "D" in the class as long as it was passing. I don't think they get it.
The one thing I learned - well, there were many things I learned - is that full maturity doesn't set in once you reach age 18, 19, 20, or even 21 for a lot of people. I can see more clearly now that about myself when I see that some of these students are okay with mediocre. I was okay with it for a long time. I'm not okay with that anymore - except when it comes to house cleaning, of course.
I learned so much through all of this. Discipline is something I have to force upon myself. If I want to be better at this art thing, I have to be disciplined. Creativity is not something that just happens. We have to work about being open-minded about it. We have to find the methods that help our creativity flow. Sometimes it comes from reading a book, sometimes it's being open to our dreams (the ones we have when we sleep), many times it comes from just looking at what other people create and how they create it. For me, a great resource will come from an artist directly when they can tell you how they go through their creative process. Most times, it's not what I would do, but it at least gives me a jumping off point.
This class this past semester was the perfect setting for all of those things to coalesce for me. It was a creative environment with a professor whose work I had seen several times before but didn't understand, and as a result didn't appreciate as fully as I do now. No two students handled their creative process the same nor did they create the same or similar results as each another. I saw progress in most of their work. I also saw those lacking in direction and understanding as to who they were as a person and what they really wanted to convey in their work. One guy's work was, for me, a little on the bizarre side. It was narrative and figurative in nature. But as I took the time to really see what he took of himself and from what must have been a painful experience and he incorporated that into his work, I was very moved. It was emotional. The technique was not the best I had seen, but clearly he poured his heart into these pieces. In the end, I think art must move us emotional. He was the most successful of all of us in making that happen.
Although I did not take photos of his work, with the permission of my classmates, I did take photos of some of the other work that was part of our "self-directed" works.
The left piece was her first self-portrait. These are rather large, probably about 30 x 40" in size. The second piece really was so much better. The jump in her ability from one piece to the next was clear. I really love her technique and her ability. The artists she has been inspired by are also those that I am inspired by. I loved watching her work and the way she handles the paint on her canvases. She will be a great colorist some day. I can't wait to see what is in store for her next.
These paintings were done by Little (I am assuming that's how her name is spelled because I never asked). They are all self-portraits. Her idea behind the work is to capture an ability or capability in her or a trait that she would love to have and capture that in her painting. A stronger woman, perhaps, likened to a greek or roman goddess. Finding her inner strength and portraying that in these characters. We talked to her about taking these further in trying to make larger pieces with the full figure and all the accessors or these goddess / warrior-type women would carry with them in order to fully get the message across. She is also a writer and that is where she derives some of her inspiration and creativity.
Laura's work, and she had many pieces, were all worked with acrylic house paint. She liked the shininess of the paint and used a very limited color palette in these pieces. She explained that these poses were to express some sort of relationship with God. Poses of contemplation. During the critique several people mentioned her trying different color palette to mimic the mood a little more. I think she truly loves painting and really is trying to find her way in using the paint as an expressive tool of how she personal feels.
Adrianna (again, can't be sure I'm spelling that name right) - was a prolific painter. Every time she came to class she had another painting completed and was starting on another. She works very quickly and with a LOT of paint. She loves working with palette knives and with large brushes. She was inspired by Michael Secor and other artists that deal with man-made structures such as piers, docks, bridges and overpasses. She has really become more disciplined in how she sees what she wants to paint and how she puts it down. She thinks a little more about the overall composition and use of colors. She has sold several of her pieces already and entered several shows. I have no doubt that she will be able to success in this art business because she has no fear of failure. That's just what I think from what I have seen over the past five months of listening to her talk and watching her paint.
These paintings are the title pages for comic strips. This girl is really into comics and her stories. I'm of the opinion that she is more of a digital artist rather than a painter. I give her great credit for taking the ideas she has and putting them down in paint. I know this class was probably a challenge for her. I hope that with the critiques from her classmates, she will become a better comic strip/graphic novelist. The class really had some great ideas for different mediums to use to get her message across in a graphic form. We had another student in class that shared her love of graphic novels and all things related, but she gave up on the physical painting aspect of the class. Personally, I think this other student gave up when it got to hard and she reverted back to her digital art. This was an advanced painting class, not a digital art class. For this student, whose work is show above, who used the painting and continued to try and make her work better, I give her more credit as an artist.
The three pictures shown above were all paintings by Katie Naquin. She was in last semester's class (figure drawing) with me as well. Her idea developed from finding a happy place from her childhood. Her recollection was that of her childhood and playing in the rain. This series of six paintings were to take different activities taking place in the rain. She used oil paint as well as oil paint sticks. I really like how different she worked with the oils and came up with a unique style. These pieces, for me are more thoughtful in design and execution. The class, of course, was able to give positive critique and I can't wait to see if she takes their advice on some of it. She is also a motivated painter in that she has her own website, teaches painting classes, makes and sells her own canvases. She is head of the Painters' League at school and is very interested in traveling to art galleries in this city and elsewhere. She didn't mind me mentioning all these things about her in this blog. If you want to see what else she has done, her website is www.wallscantalkgallery.com.
These two photos are by Michelle Marks. She is also from my class last semester. She has an artist's soul and wants so desperately to make that show up in her work. I think her mind and her hands are having difficulty communicating. I don't mean this in a negative way. I believe, she, like me, knows what she wants to do, but just can't necessarily make it happen in the way she envisions it. She has incorporated the elements of sculpture and mixed it with her painting and come up with these pieces show above. She has used bedsheets and other found materials. She also used varnishes and like materials to give the fabric stiffness and structure. Some of the pieces were unfinished and she was still working through her mental block. I'm hoping that after her critique she was able to take the suggestions and comments and finish these pieces. It will be interesting to see how she develops as an artist. She just needs to show up and do the work. If she does that, she will be great.
I have the advantage over the other photos in this blog because I have taken the critique and advice and finished my pieces. The top piece is "Wonderment". The second is titled "Deception". And, the third is "Snare". I struggled with these pieces because of the subject matter. I wanted to capture the essence of who this child is. I truly feel my painting technique has improved and I hope it keeps improving.
I finally felt, as I came to the end of the semester, that I reached a point where I knew what I had to do and where I need to go with my painting. I realized that I am a meticulous painter and I will never be the fastest painter in the room. I do know, that I have a pace that works for me and that pace gets more comfortable each time I put a brush in my hand. I know that each time I do, now, the work will improve.
I am on a break from painting for a week or so. I will be drawing instead, brainstorming. I have entered these last three pieces into an art show and will find out in late June whether the jurors have chosen any of my pieces for the juried show in July. Two years ago I tried to get in but didn't. We'll see what happens this time. If not, well, I'll do as I've done and keep painting for myself.
I think I will continue to blog. I'm not sure if I should continue it here until this titled blog. Blogging and painting have truly helped me get a sense of where I am, where I've been and where I need to go. As for the classes, Elise Toup's advice to take these classes was probably the best art advice I've ever been given. I did something that was uncomfortable and worked my way through it and came out much better on the other side. This holds true for my artwork but also for my personal life. For that, I can't thank her enough. She is something special and I'm not sure she realizes that I hold her in such high esteem. There are other people out there, too, that don't realize what a positive impact they have made on me and my painting - Debbie, you are one of those people, too. My professors from these two semesters and definitely those "kids" in my classes are on the list. People open doors for you sometimes not know what they are doing.
Yeah, it was a good idea after all, Elise.