Art School: Semester 2, Week 13

Week 13 is now sand through the hourglass, or something. And as this semester comes to a close, I am grateful.

Not that I haven’t enjoyed it, but it’s been work. Lots and lots of work.

I’ll get to the week in review, but first I need to cover a couple of other things:

  1. The title of my wood sculpture — the virus — was 1E06, and a couple of people asked about it, so I promised an explanation. 1E06 is an oddball way of writing scientific notation, generally on a typewriter, but it’s used as a shorthand in various places. Written out more fully, it looks like
    1.0 x 10⁶
    Or 1,000,000 in normal terms. And the sculpture is approximately 1,000,000 times actual size. Thus the name. (Blame Anne. No, really. She suggested it.)
  2. The search for a new place to live has concluded. We have signed a lease and pick up keys soon. Our move date isn’t fixed yet — I need to get through the end of the semester — but we’ll be working on it ASAP. New location is in North Vancouver. A nice, quiet suburb nearer to the mountains and consequently a bit colder, a bit rainier, and (apparently) a lot less sunny. It should also be less noisy as it is much farther from the airport. We should be fully moved in and settled just in time for the summer semester to start. The new commute to school is a bit up in the air, but will probably include the Seabus, which’ll be fun.
  3. As for summer session, I’ve signed up for my classes: a special projects class in design (working with the city of Vancouver, apparently on the heat island effect in a part of the city), a class on Canadian art, and an online English class. The latter two fill requirements I need to get done for the eventual diploma. The former is just for fun, and perhaps to meet some interesting people.

With those things all explained or dealt with, here’s this week’s school review:

Art History

This week saw the last Art History class meeting. We had another guest lecture — this time by a curator for the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. I’d tell you what the lecture was about, but it turns out that I shouldn’t yet. Summarizing the lecture is one part of the final exam in this class, and if I write it up here, I could be giving it away to someone else in class who might be reading this blog. And if I did that, and they copied my words, I might get accused of plagiarism. So, maybe later for the summary, after the take home final exam is done. Or not.

We were given the final exam as well, and I have two weeks to write up two essays and turn them in.

The math says that even if I skip the final completely I’ll get a B- in the class. I think I can fail the final mightily — like scoring 35% — and still get an A. There are benefits to attending every day and speaking up in class. (That’s a hint to any of my fellow students reading this: every class has a chunk of your grade based on attendance and participation. Show up, talk at least once or twice a class meeting, and — voila!— you get a huge leg up on your final grade in the course!)


I spent a TON of hours in the print studio over the weekend. In fact, I spent so much time there that I finished the final print run. Done. Finito. Final crit on these is next week, so this class is essentially complete.

I was supposed to have a picture of the final print here, but I failed to take one, and the prints are all at school while I am at home for the Easter break. So, next week I guess. Sorry!


This week exactly two things happened. First, we got our grades for our wood sculptures. I got a great mark on mine, so that’s all good. I don’t have any stellar photos of it, but I can share this:


For reference, it’s a bit under 24" tall, and the spread of the feet doesn’t get below about 24". It’s a big critter. I definitely need better pictures of it, but that’s hard to do for the moment. I need to solve that issue longer term somehow in any case. Lights and camera are fine… it’s location and backdrop that are the problems.

The other thing that happened this week was a work day on our assemblage sculptures. I am getting moving on mine, and I have a plan. I’m going to create a Vancouver golem. It will nominally be made from broken umbrellas. To that end, I asked the school’s lost & found if they had any they could spare:

My locker, after they said “Here, take them all!”

That’s a start, right? Something like 40 of them. Turns out most people never go to the lost & found and ask about a forgotten umbrella. Who knew? And to those I added more from a few other sources, so the pile is rather large.

And of course the first thing you do is… dismember them:


That’s after something like 15 have been gutted. Spars and shafts on the floor to the left, cloth on the floor under the table, handles, bits, and more to go on the table itself. Quite the mess!

And who would have guessed that a key element of umbrella manufacturing would be twist ties? It’s true. The spars are attached to the shaft in 2 or 3 places with twist ties. There are complicated toroidal bits of plastic with indents for the spars to fit into, and a channel around them for the wire to run in. The spars are threaded onto the wire, then wrapped around and inserted into the plastic widget, and the wire is twisted, cut off, and tucked into a recess.

And it’s done by hand. I can tell because while most of them are twisted in the direction a right handed person would do it, a couple have been twisted the other way. Sure sign of hand labour.

As for the sculpture, I can hear the questions already: a golem made from umbrellas? How will it hold together? I’ve got that worked out. I’ve welded together a frame of 1/2" rebar to create a vaguely humanoid shape. That will stand in some old kid’s rain boots filled with concrete, and the entire mess will be covered in umbrella stuff. There will also be some other things to flesh it out and give it some interesting details. Details in the next post, I hope. There’s a lot left to do, and I have less than two weeks to get it done. There will be pics from the process, as well as the final thing. I promise. Unless it’s a total disaster.


This was the penultimate drawing class. We had one, last, optional homework that I turned it. The assignment was a life drawing in which we reworked some aspects of it.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I really dislike life drawing. A friend in the class put it best the other day. She said something like “I don’t want to look at naked people first thing in the morning. In fact, unless I want to see you naked, I don’t want to see you naked, thank you very much.” From my informal and incomplete survey of the class members, that sort of opinion is prevalent, and I share it. Beyond that, though, I find my drawings of humans (and, indeed, all creatures) are simply bad.

I’m not including a photo of the homework I turned in. It got a reasonable mark, but it was not great, and I didn’t like it.

All of that will help make what follows seem even more weird, though, since I played with technique today and found something that I liked to do with life drawing. So here are some pictures from today’s session. Far more than I have ever shared before:

Life drawing — charcoal on newsprint

Those were a complete surprise to me. We started with some 30 second poses and the model was an impossibly thin, elfin woman. I knew if I tried to do anything realistic I would just muck it up, so I tried something totally different, bypassing all the teaching I’ve had on this topic.

The bottom three are basically just gesture drawings, each done with very few strokes. The others were longer poses, and I worked them more, but avoided details. The top left and top middle are OK, but I really like the top right. (There were others, and some are OK. These are the best of the set, in my mind, and I didn’t want to bore you with too much of the same stuff.)

I may never be able to do this again, and — except for next week, when we’ll have another model and one last session of life drawing — I may never make another chance to do it. But there is something to that style that I like, and I am happy I tripped over it. Part of going back to school is to have happy accidents like this, and while I don’t know if this will carry over in some way to future sculptural work, it is definitely interesting to contemplate that.


There was no media class this week. We’re working on our final projects, getting ready for final crit next week. I’ve been hacking away at it, off and on, and the video side is coming together. The audio side is still a complete unknown, but that has to be resolved within a week.

For technical reasons I am not sure if or how to share it here. It’ll be on two screens projected side by side, and it’s a bit complicated. I may have to explain it rather than share it. I’ll see how that goes.


  • Here’s a weird one for the home automation nuts among you. It struck a chord with me.
  • And here’s one from Craig, about tech workers and Facebook. I haven’t deleted my FB account yet, but I really am thinking about doing so. Before I do I have a post to write — probably here — about what I learned when I downloaded my FB data and looked it over.
  • And here’s the post I mentioned last week, also courtesy of Craig. The challenging one. I have a lot of sympathy for it, and I recommend reading it with an open mind. Many of those that commented upon it clearly did not do that.
  • The usual index of art school posts and other things here on Medium, because Medium’s display isn’t chronological, as far as I can tell.

Dog Pictures

No dog pictures this week, but instead I give you this:

That was taken on Taco Night at Jeff & Nicki’s place, Oct 14, 2012. I suspect, but am not certain, that Irene was the photographer.

Why am I sharing that? Good question. As I was going through my photos this afternoon to write this up, editing, downloading, etc., Google decided to show me several that I didn’t know about. No clue why they showed up when they did, but that’s one of them. Most of the others were junk. Ancient history that I simply deleted. But that one… that one had to be kept and added to this week’s blog post. Nicki, I give you your own cat in your own dining room, I think. ;)

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

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