Art with Cause

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Sunday, October 23, 2016


Today, Walter asked me for some help with shading (college level - beginners drawing). Of course I will help. Walter is extremely creative and hasn't had an art class since elementary school. 
(Quick stop me before I rant about arts education and how a child who wants to design computer games was failed by a system that never offered him basic art skills)

Shadings and values are a seemingly simple concept, and as I heard Walter explain the assignment and what he thought the teacher wanted, I knew he completely understood what shading is and what the assignment was (having had similar assignments in my past). 
Above - what he had done so far. He said he knew it was wrong, but didn't know how to make it right, he didn't know what it was he was doing wrong, he had missed something. (Obviously doing a lot right already on his own!)

Of course there is no "WRONG" so we will just enjoy those "happy little trees" above.

We talked... we drew... he worked it out.. I explained things in new ways (he and I kinda speak the same language)...
and I love that moment when it clicks - the parts come together as a whole. He got it. Like magic. 
Sorry the image quality is so poor. Pencil on news print and the room wasn't well lit. But you can see well enough. I can't tell you what all the objects in the first group of sketches are - but in this second pic we can see the Lincoln log, the golf T, the spool of thread, the wooden block, and the yoyo on the bottom.  

I often say to students: Draw what you see - not what you think you see.  
But quite literally it is a lie - we are assigning hash marks to values. We do not see hash marks, but we draw them. So we focus on what is not drawn - the light - we follow the light and (not literally) draw the light. 
LOVE the golf T!
 (Graphite Pencil on Newsprint - Titled:Sketch 21)

As Walter continued to draw he told me he has an upcoming assignments with transparency and reflection.  So I jokingly put a water bottle in from of him and asked: are you feeling brave? 
He paused. I said we can toss the drawing if we hate it. Do you want to try while I am here?

Let it be known - he is a very brave young man!! Here is the water bottle:

I knew he could. He just needed to learn how to use a pencil, how to vary the weight of the mark, and what typed of marks get desired outcomes. Today was a day of growth for Walter and I am VERY proud of him. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Finally finished her self portrait

My student finally finished her self portrait - it took WAY more time than we expected. But the end result was worth the wait. She really learned a lot through the process though: having to paint over areas and re-work areas. The final piece is something she can be proud of! I know I am proud of her!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Portfolio Prep Class

Assignment: Self Portrait
Half done in classical glazing technique and the other half done in expressionistic technique
student's first self portrait - acrylic on canvas

(Sorry for the terrible pic - just snapped it with my phone before she left)

Student feels it is unfinished.

I spent some time looking at it after class last night. I go back and forth thinking: "No, it is finished" and "Yes, lets do more"

I have a few thoughts:
She said she would like to lighten the color of the "hair" on the right side of the painting. Although it is dark it is [a bit] balanced by the light in the negative space on the opposite side - maybe activate the negative space in the left side more? Maybe not. I am kinda ok with it. Any thoughts??

I'd like her to work a bit more on that eye. Catch some reflective lights and add little more detail in the lashes - spend more time really looking at her eye in the mirror and painting what she sees. Tightening up that eye will really balance that peace lily well. (Although it is already very good)

But let's keep in mind that this 16 year old student has only had a basic high school art class and this is all very new to her - HOW FREAKING AMAZING IS SHE?!?!?! She is eager to learn - absorbs everything - never says: "I know" or "I am" in a sassy way - she just says ok and keeps trying to do like I say or like I show her. Such a sponge - such a rock star!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stay tuned

Please stay tuned...

My featured student is working on a piece that is taking a lot of time and work (and so far, seems worth the wait). So please stayed tuned.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Color = Magic

Talking a lot about color theory and color in general.

It is magical seeing people's eyes open to color and why we combine certain colors and how we combine them 

and that certain combinations will make a more dynamic images and other combinations make a less dynamic images

Oh, how amazing color is!!
and how everything becomes like an impressionist's painting 

like the impressionist changed the world of art - learning about color changes how you see everything

Watching someone else learn about color, makes everything vibrant again - like the first time I started seeing things in color - from the eyes of a painter

I wish everyone could experience that magic at least once in their life

So proud when a student sees a painting and comes back to me and says how much more depth could have been created if the artist used a compliment

and just as proud when a student's parent is also paying attention and now knows the color's names and points them out in life - and learns that some colors "compliment each other" and others "have continuity with each other"

It is so inspiring when people see in color

* Note: I am not saying people do not see in color - nor do I intend to insult anyone who has not taken a color theory class or studied color theory.  I am merely sharing that we've had a colorful and inspirational time lately exploring color in a way which was new to my student and her mother - and that was magical.

** image is not a Jessica J. Murray original - it is clip art 

On a side note #Rant: a lady was shopping for paints and couldn't find a few she was looking for - a sales rep in that arts supply store suggests a name brand of paint which is very cheep and works terribly and suggests a mixed 'hue' instead of a pure pigment - he said to her that since the person using it was just a student they wouldn't notice any difference
So - how does a student learn the difference if they don't use the pure pigment?  Is it ok for someone in a voice class to sing a note slightly flat because only a small amount of people in the world have been trained to hear perfect pitch? Is it ok for a photographer to take a picture that is slightly blurry, because many people wear glasses and can't see perfectly?
It angers me that he thinks so little of students' education - that a substandard product wouldn't matter because they haven't been taught yet (but use the substandard product to teach them?) UGH!!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Update to the Classes Tab (above)

The classes will not just encourage you to put paint on a canvas or draw... but to live a more creative life...

Unless you are one of those people who just want to be miserable... 
OK, that last list is what NOT to do!!!  So let's all get excited and get creative!!! 

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