Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back to school

After a break it is back to school for me. This semester I am again taking three classes, two directed studies and one general studies class, a group directed study, figure studio II, and professional practices.

The directed studies are two very different classes from each other, one focusing on designing my work according to my intentions, the other focusing on technical mastery of capturing human form.

The class focusing on developing my work is designed for me to work on my own work with guidance from the instructor and advise and input from the other students in the class. This is very exciting to me! I have been working hard on developing my technical skills as an artist, but have neglected developing my ideas around my work. Much of the art you see on this blog is either classwork or personal work that I did with the intention of learning and practicing my craft. A very few pieces include some conceptual ideas beyond just technical improvement. This was fine as the goals I set for myself last semester were about correcting problems I had within my skill set. Now I am setting new goals that include learning to develop the message I want to communicate using my own voice and language in my work. I need to start applying what I know and have learned to create personal works. I have been at a loss at how to go about doing this.

I have had a couple of classes that were designed to help me with this, Situation and Environment and Expressive Painting. Situation and Environment was limited to composition as it relates to placing figures into a physical situation. Expressive Painting was good because it helped me break out of purely technical thinking, though the instructor felt I was always playing it to safely. I enjoyed this class and it was here I really realized how important intention was and began to see glimpses at how to go at it. Here the group critiques to really beneficial as concept and intention were discussed a lot. I did still find the ideas about how to develop my concept to be a little mysterious. Here I found the conversation would discuss the ideas or concept about work good but it danced around how to develop the ideas well.

This directed study has already paid off here. The instructor talked about how to prepare before painting and assigned a couple of assignments designed to help us figure out why we painted.

Next week I am to come back to class with a few things. Among them I am to bring a statement about my thesis work and a statement about why I do figure painting. The first I have done, the second I will work on this week. That is an interesting question, one that I have answered before with the answer of wanting to learn how to paint well. Never have I really explored why beyond that. Still there must be more to it than that as I don't paint landscape, still life, or abstract work much. What motivates me to paint the figure over other things becomes the question. I have this answered as well but not really developed. My answer is I like painting the figure, I like the challenge, and I like the things I can do when painting it.

Anyways, the assignments are designed to help me figure out what I want to do with my work and why.

The instructor also shared with us ways we can prepare for a painting. What I found interesting, unique, and very cool about what he said was where he started. He did not assume I knew what I wanted to say and just start talking about doing color studies and sketches and such. (Something I had half expected to hear) Rather he began with the process of just thinking about what is motivating the work. Then he took that into how to develop composition.

As a quick side note the professional practices class has us writing an artist statement, which fits in nicely with this.

The other class was a more of what I did last semester, drawing the figure. I took it for two reasons. One I like drawing the figure (and its challenges) and, two, I believe that one of the best ways to improve in my painting is to continue to draw. The instructor talked a bit about what excites him about art, the importance of good foundations, and general inspirational messages. We then drew for the remainder of the day. I will enjoy this class because it will be drawing from life with extended (multi day) poses.

Ross

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