Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cheap Thrills

Texture, value, shape, composition...collage is the perfect art technique to explore ideas.  Finding inexpensive art materials is always helpful.  Recycling printed matter is a must today.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shape Families

"With the most primitive means the artist created something which the most ingenious and efficient technology will never be able to create."  Kasimir Malevich 1879 - 1935

Collage of Student Compositions of Shape Families

We humans enjoy organizing everything in our world and then labeling it.  The students work this time around explored shape families...shapes that would fall into either rectilinear or biomorphic categories.    Any shape that you would encounter in a geometry class would be placed in the former; shapes found in nature, or having an undulating form are placed in the later category.

Each student was charged with producing two designs including each of the shape families.  One could employ values using graphite and the other was rendered with tempera paint.  These are small works, approximately 5" x 7".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rising by Degrees


"The United States is facing a dramatic demographic challenge: Young Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the population, and they are the least likely to graduate from college. Experts say the future of the American economy is at stake, because higher education is essential in the 21st century economy. Rising by Degrees tells the story of Latino students working towards a college degree—and why it’s so hard for them to get what they want."

Last year my drawing classroom was visited by producer, Emily Hanford, who was documenting the experience of several Latino students at Montgomery College.  Katy Sorto, a student enrolled in this class is the subject of one of the profiles.  I hope that you will visit the link and listen to or read the transcript.  These students face amazing challenges but those who succeed deserve their success.

Everyone wins when these students succeed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Bones

We can live without color but we cannot see without light.  Values formed by moving from light to darkness form how we view the world.  How artists weave values into their compositions can be the support for the image itself.  This foundation can help the viewer make their way through the picture plane.  They can also cause the work to be memorable.

When we look at art we often search for meaning.  Some viewers are discontent unless they can discern the subject of the work.  Sometimes the formal construction eludes us, or it is overlooked in favor of a thirst for content.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Taking a Leap

Everyone was happy to leave the realm of lines behind.  They had learned a lot about composition and design principles. Their grasp of vocabulary and also use of media had improved.  Of course I am showing you exemplary works, however, even the learning disabled students had made great progress.

Shape is sexy.  There is so much more to see and experience.  It is visually far more enticing.  We began by thinking about rectilinear and biomorphic shapes.  Students were asked to create designs inspired by something that they could see in their world.

Can you guess what the inspiration for this one is?  A stalk of brussel sprouts.

Here we see a very balanced apple tree.

More about shape after the weekend! 

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Curved and Diagonal Lines

The transition from the severe diet of horizontal and vertical lines to the more robust world of curves and diagonals is like adding sugar and salt.  For many, it is a relief from the restrictive atmosphere of becalmed horizontals and rigid verticals.  

We all require a little fat in our diet, and the voluptuous quality of the curves combined with the powerful movement of the diagonals kindles a burst of energy in the designs.

As you can see, there is a hunger for shape. 

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Horizontal and Vertical Lines

"With your unaided eyes you can look into a pond and see clear water.  With a magnifying glass you look into the same water and see thousands of small organisms.  With a microscope you see bacteria and detect viruses, and with the most sophisticated tunneling electron microscope you can see the atoms that make up the water and the creatures in it." Edwin Schlossberg, Interactive Excellence

Please note: The artwork in this posting was produced by my students this semester.  Please contact me should you wish to use it so that I can get permission.

I am teaching two sections of two-dimensional design this semester at the community college.  Students from all of the various programs must take at least one art course in order to fulfill their curriculum requirements.  Therefore, I teach students from every discipline, and since our population is so diverse, from many parts of the world as well as different ages, cultures and backgrounds.

Design is the grammar and the beginning of the spiral is a point.  A line is made up of points.  Our brain can register an implied line by viewing a series of dots lined up in a row.  The points in the illustration above show distribution, variety, and dominance.  

We start with the line combination problem of horizontals and verticals.  This is a natural set of groupings because much of art is made up of horizontal and vertical relationships.  Students put together designs using this combination which is the most common sort of directional relationships in art.  Of course, they first have to learn how to create thumbnail sketches and test out their ideas in order to generate ideas.

The illustration above shows a design that mirrors itself but with different weights of line and even an implied set of graduated lines on the top left.

So when does a line become a shape?  Is it merely a question of proportion?  We have a lot of arguments
about what constitutes a shape.

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