Art School, Semester 2, Week 1

And so it begins. School is back in session, I have a huge pile of homework already, and I am actively avoiding it by writing up the first piece about my art school experiences of 2018.

“Wait,” I hear you say. “Isn’t this just the first piece since the end of the semester? What have you written that we didn’t see?”

Ah dedicated reader, I appreciate your concern, and the answer to that lies in the link section below. I trust you’ll find it when you get there and not go rocketing to the bottom of this post to find it now. Ahem.

But I do have a request. When I published that piece a while back it had a set of horrible typos. Honestly… I’d had a major brain problem — possibly qualifying me to be president of the US now — and had repeatedly used the wrong word for something over two paragraphs. And none of my readers who found the piece said a word. No email, no comments, nothing. Then, one dedicated, dear friend actually contacted me via Facebook and mentioned it. I was appalled (Facebook, DS? That’s how you contact me? *sigh*) and I fixed the errors immediately.

All of this is to say that if you find any errors in this piece — or future pieces — you need to tell me about them. I prefer email, but you can reach me via FB if that is all you know. I will fix things, I promise. And I won’t complain about bug reports of that kind. After all, I made the mistakes.

I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
Inigo Montoya
The Princes Bride

The other news that I should share is that my mom joined us over the holidays and brought a lovely Midwestern cold with her. We all spent several days sounding terrible and mostly unable to move during her visit, but it was otherwise quite nice. Mom doesn’t read these posts for some reason, so I guess I could say just about anything. But I am a good son, and I will only tell the truth: it was good to see her here, and we’ll do it again as soon as we can.

The holidays themselves were low key, just the way I like them. We ate and drank too much, and whined about politics at each other, but that’s about it.

With all of that out of the way, we can get on to the Week In Review.

Art History

I don’t know much about this class yet. Monday was a holiday (New Years Day, for those not tracking the 2018 calendar, or who are reading this in 2155 and wondering what I am blabbering about) and as a result it wasn’t held. It is taught by the same instructor I had for the previous art history class, and it’s titled Visual Culture II. As with last semester’s class, it’s an exploration of art in a thematic way, rather than over time. The text is pretty bad, but the instructor is good. I see from her syllabus that we’re writing two papers this time, not just one. And from conversation with her I suspect they will be different kinds of papers from the visual analysis we did last semester. It should be a typical academic class with a mid-term and final exam. I’ll know more this coming Monday evening once class is over.

Printmaking Studio

The first studio class of 2018. It’s a foundation class — an overview of a lot of printmaking in this case — rather than an in depth class on some particular technique. We’ll execute three projects: a linocut, a dry point etching, and a serigraph (aka a silk screen). The latter will feature multiple colours and require registration to keep everything properly aligned. The instructor is very nice and seems pretty technical as well. The first class included the usual overview and then we started drawing a still life as our subject matter for the linocut. Next week we transfer that drawing to the plate and start removing material.

Sculpture Studio

Those of you that know me well know I have a thing about 3D art. I love it, and I tend to think in 3D really easily. This class should be a lot of fun as a result. The instructor is the same person who taught my painting class last semester. You know, the class that filled me with angst because I hate painting. The sculpture class is clearly a lot more structured than the painting class, and things are going to be interesting. We’ll complete three projects: a metal sculpture, a wood sculpture, and an assemblage. I don’t know a lot about the second and third projects — though I did see a number of the wood sculptures from the previous class — but we’ve been introduced to the first project, and it’s fascinating.

We’re going to be given a 16" square piece of 22 gauge steel, and we must use it all. We can cut it up just about any way the tools will allow, bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate, but we have to use it all. We can also use wire (welding rod, actually) for linear elements. To get us started on this they’ve handed out 8" square pieces of cardboard for us to use to make a maquette (model) of the the thing we want to create.

Some of the things at play here are very clear: they want us to be able to enlarge something (thus the half size maquette) and they really want us thinking about negative vs. positive space (thus the having to use all of the steel, which means every cut has an opposite that we must also factor into the work).

The work is largely done in a shop on campus, and we’ve been introduced to the various shears and other tools (including a spot welder) that we’ll be using. There will be a test next week on that overview, including a brief overview of metals and metallurgy. I’ve heard from several people that Langara students do well when they get to four year art and design schools because they know how to build things. This class is clearly a big part of that.

I have yet to start working on my maquette, alas. There’s been a lot going on, and that’s what this weekend is for.

Drawing II

Another drawing class. Same room, same instructor — who I like — and the same format. Covering different techniques this time, it appears. Weekly homework as happened last semester, and plenty of chances for me to realize that I am not that kind of artist. But it’s required, so I will do it with good cheer.

Media Studio

Friday’s class is totally different. It’s computer based art, and another chance for Apple and Adobe to continue their strangle hold on the art and design community. We’re going to be using Photoshop and Premier to create three projects: the first is a digital collage, incorporating something from a famous artist (Marcel Duchamp, in my case) and our own photos, etc. The second project will be a sound project of some kind, and the third will be an installation including both audio and video.

Thankfully I can get Adobe products on the Windows laptop I own, though it will mean I actually have to use it and keep it up to date, rather than just fiddle with it every so often to see what my mom is experiencing with her computer.

The instructor is lovely, and I look forward to learning more from her. But I have to say that this kind of art has not been all that interesting to me in the past, so I expect I will struggle with it on an intellectual level. The technical stuff should be pretty easy, honestly. Or so I hope. I will learn new things about Photoshop, I am certain, and if I can transfer that knowledge over to GIMP I will be happy. As for Premier, I have no clue what sort of software exists like it in the open source world, and thus no idea if the knowledge will transfer easily or not. Time will tell, assuming I have need to do A/V development of some kind in the future.

The Homework Load

Yes, this gets its own section this week. I have concerns.

  • Visual Culture II has weekly reading and two papers.
  • Printmaking has lots of time required outside of class to keep up. Printing itself has to be done in the studio, obviously, as that is where the presses are.
  • Sculpture is going to take a lot of time, much of it in the shop, which is open 9–5 M-F. So daytime needs to be spent there.
  • Drawing has weekly homework, and my own skill level means I’ll be spending four or more hours a week at it.
  • Media looks homework heavy as well, and time in the Mac labs is a bit thin. There are drop in times, but mostly I suspect I’ll be working at home. The first week has a lot of stuff we need to do already.

Doing all of that is going to be interesting. I hope I have all my hair when the semester ends.

Oh, and don’t forget that our lease ends at the end of May. As the semester is ending I need to be looking for a new place for us to live — with our pack of dogs — so we can continue this adventure. That’ll be gobs of fun.

The Rest of Life

I don’t actually talk a whole lot about the rest of life here, as my regular readers know. Personal stuff stays, well, personal. Or at least doesn’t get written down for the Internet to find. You don’t care about it in any case, as a rule. If you do, come visit me and we’ll talk.

I will say that this ongoing adventure — rip our lives up by the roots, move to Canada, go back to school, and so on — is still a lot of fun. Assuming the Canadian government decides that we’re allowed to stay here, we expect to do that, though the exact where and how are all up in the air at this time.

That does it this time around, except for the links to interesting reading (below) and the dog pictures. On the latter, I have none this time. (Sorry Nicki!) Maybe next week.

Hmm… there are no photos in this piece at all. Interesting, but not all that surprising. Classes have barely begun. There’s nothing new to photograph yet. Maybe I’ll have some work in progress pictures next week.

Remember: report those typos and errors! I know they’re here. I just can’t see them!


This is the one by me. If you’ve read it already, don’t bother again. Except for the awful typo fix there are no changes.

This is interesting on a number of levels. All hail doing nothing, I think.

This last one is good reading. In fact most of what he writes is good. I strongly encourage you to read is other posts. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook as well, if you want. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but I do agree with most of it, and even when I disagree I find his arguments are always well reasoned. This piece, I agree with wholeheartedly.

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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