This has been a complicated semester for me at times, frustrating and I honestly welcome the end of days and a time to reset and work "off grid' for the winter break. I have mixed feelings about the first semester in the program. I am happy with the progress of my ideas and thinking, and feel I have opened up some great avenues to my work, fresh avenues that come directly from my work in the undergrad. I've fallen back in love with drawing and have been doing more of that than painting, but want to take these ways of working in my drawings back into--or combine them with painting. I am digging deeper into themes of the loss, the shift between two states, the collapse of memory, the collapse of mans dominion over nature, the collapse of the urban and the suburban. The home or the house as a symbol, and this all came out of my love for painting urban themes as well as painting in plein air. Just now I feel these things are all like fresh ingredients tossed into the soup. Will the soup be any good? Or will I have to dump it and go back and start fresh. How can my technical process change or grow to reflect these ideas, does it need to, and if so how can the mediums chosen execute or hinder? The biggest frustration for me has been time, I haven't had even 2 days in a row to work, so I hop from student to teacher to cartoonist and professional. Sometimes all in one day--so the break will give me more time to just work on my studio work, and maybe even get back out to nature and plein air paint.
I enjoyed my critic Martha Armstrong very much and feel I did get some good feedback from her, but I will not have her next semester so I am frustrated with that because I won't have a continuation of the discussions we started this term. They like to mix up your critics in the program which I suppose has a plus of getting a lot of thoughts on your work, but the downside is that a good conversation gets cut short. I will try and sign up for Martha again if she has any open slots in the spring. I also don't think that "more thoughts" are always better thoughts either. The wrong critic or someone who doesn't get your work, or like the type of work you are into will not always end in feedback you can find useful. I wish we had more painters as critics and more figurative painters as well. A lot of the critics work in the program I just don't feel a great kinship or response too. I suppose it's my continuing issue with much of modernism, I just don't find a lot to love, and craft wise too much of its is non-retinal and that is an excuse for crap. There, I said it!
Luckily I will continue on with Michael Gallagher as a critic, and I've had Mike as a critic and a friend for a few years now and we have a great repor and the history of many great conversations. Since the core of the program at PAFA in both the undergrad and the MFA is based on having the critics and their feedback on your work, having at least one long term critic for me is essential. Having a critic who has watched you grow and change over a long time is also for me an essential thing, to be challenged is also a great thing, the back and forth in a long conversation is essential dialogue for solid artistic growth and the development of your work. New ideas, new stratagies are the "Mother's Milk" as old Prof. Gimley world say-- but to not get anything you can use is a waste of time and a lot of money and is surely spilt milk.
In my Drawing Seminar we brought in our drawings we were working on in the studio or where ever we are working, and then Michael Moore had us do drawings of each others drawings. Mmm, ok. I did a bunch of sketches of others peoples drawing and they did some of mine, I suppose to walk a mile in another artists shoes. But I am not quite sure the why of it ended up as anything useful. I have worked in many other "styles' and worn many other shoes as a cartoonist, especially in animation. The ability to work that way is actually essential in animation. So I can draw something as a riff, like the first piece above on this post, but for me it feels like "busy work". Maybe for my fellow classmates they got more out of it than I did. It was interesting to see some of their takes on my drawing, but for me I think the exercise would have been more interesting to see everybody do something based on the same drawing--run through their personal process---or not. I mean in an MFA program does that type of exercise bring forth real movement or growth, would you have to do it longer term? I always try and be open and give it a go in school, even when I don't dig the whole assignment or idea. I can always reject anything in the end, jettison it with the zillions of other things I have or keep it in my pocket to use later. I think the hard thing is you become more selective in what you keep and its harder to find those things worth keeping as you advance.
Akira Kurosawa's Dreams.
website and the show is up till Sunday at Rosenfeld.