Saturday, November 15, 2008

Near Semester's End

With the wet windswept weather and the nearly bare trees fall really swept into Philly this week as a herald of the Thanksgiving Break and the end of the fall semester that will be upon all of us students and teachers in just a few short weeks. As I type this post I can hear the soft chatter of the blowing leaves racing each other in wind driven sprints down Fairfield Street.

There is always a certain amount of anxiety in the student population at this time of year, "I have sooooo much homework!" is a very common complaint heard at the lunch able or in the elevator. Many a charcoal smudged face appears tired from lack of sleep, and I am a face in that crowd for sure.

In the two classes on storyboarding I teach at both DCAD and Uarts some students are struggling, and some have dropped the classes all together, especially at DCAD this semester. The next 3 weeks will make it or break it for many more students, including myself.

To be frank, the amount of homework I get as a student is nothing compared to the amount of work I do as a professional. School work is a walk in the park on a sunny day compared to the grind of a storyboard. Homework for me is a joy, time for me to do something for myself and try and push myself to a higher place as an artist, to experiment, try out what I've been learning. I know my perspective as a student is unique, I am a 25-year-professional, returning to school with a lot of experience which is a big help. Homework is a day at the Art Gym, or a week, to strengthen myself and try and apply what we are learning in class so when we leave and enter our studios in the 3rd year, man, we should be ready to tear into some art.

So, my challenges are different in that I can easily do the work at school physically, it's the challenge of pushing myself up Art Mountain that is the issue. As a younger artist I think you can make great leaps forward in ability, but I haven't felt any great leaps, it's more of a steady (hopefully) gate, an inch, a step at a time for me.
The challenges I have are harder now, "It's all about the little things" as my still life teacher Mike Gallagher put to me.

I this regard I feel I have made progress this semester. I have been pushing for a more "poetic' and personal feel in my work, trying to really define my way, my path, find my voice and what I want to do, how I want to speak as an artist. This of course is totally seperate from my commercial work, where I pretty much know exactly how I want to speak, or how I have been hired to speak--on model.

I think I have come closest in my Still Life Class to getting what I am after by doing the smaller more intense studies. By working smaller I force myself to not rely on one of my greatest skills as an artist which is my line, a line I use every day in my commercial work. Instead i have to concentrate on composition, value, shape and atmosphere a lot more to compensate. the challenge now is to take what I am getting in the smaller studies and transfer that to a bigger drawing.

The one at the top of the post is the next round in this quest. Now I have decided to continue to only draw and not paint, but to now work on a mid-tone paper and introduce white into the value scale. I think I will try a few more like this and then possibly do one smaller painting for my final go in the Still Life class.

Below are some of the other pieces I've done and pictures of my fellow friends and students from my anatomy and still life classes.

One more session with the model and then we are off to cast the heads.
This is from our Thursday night open figure sessions run by the students. I got things blocked in and have 2 more weeks with this pose to see where I can take it.
A figure comp assignment from John Horn's anatomy class.

From our recent mid-tern still life crit.
Liza working on her big, big drawing...

John Horn reviewing our homework.


Sam Roe said...

I really like your block figure piece.

Mike M said...

Thanks Sam, that was fun to do.