Art School: Semester 2, Week 5

When I am wondering if it is raining I remember instead to ask “Where I am currently living?” If the answer is still “Vancouver” then the answer to “Is it raining” is obviously “yes.”
— me, multiple times this past week

Yup, it rained a lot last week. It didn’t usually rain hard, and it often stops raining for hours in a row, but it did rain off and on, all the time. Not that I am complaining — I love it! — but the locals have issues with it. I’m just fine even if my tootsies get a bit damp.

The pile of homework that was present two weeks ago and then dwindled is rapidly building back up. More reading and stuff for art history, another plate to make for printmaking, a wood sculpture to plan and create, regular drawing homework, and a sound collage/thing to create. It’s going to be a busy time.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. You haven’t yet seen what happened last week to know why that is all the case, so…

Art History

Another week, another lecture. Actually we first finished up last week’s lecture on portraiture, and then moved on to art & veneration. It was mostly a very brief overview of world religions as mediated by bits of art. We touched on various art works, including some depicting Mary becoming pregnant with Jesus. (Hint: these are not exactly carnal images we’re talking about. “A dove flying at Mary’s uterus” is a good description. There was a bit of laughter in the room as these were discussed.)

I found it very amusing to come home to the news that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo understands “immaculate conception” far better than right wing senator and conspiracy theorist, Matt Gaetz from Florida. My own knowledge of religion — even Christianity — is very thin, and I had to learn the difference between the “immaculate conception” and the “doctrine of incarnation.” But someone actually claiming to be a Christian — as Geitz does — apparently ought to know these things. I look forward to asking my instructor if she saw the news or not.

And while I am sharing that with her, I will also be sharing a blog that I follow. I’ll put it in the links sections for you folks too, as others might find it interesting and humorous.


We did critique (which will be shortened to just “crit” from this post on because that ‘q’ is awful to type on a qwerty keyboard, and because fellow student Jessica said “we should crit while we’re ahead” in sculpture class, so that just has to happen). Anyway, we did it. I think I came out OK, but I don’t actually know. Hard to tell. Here’s a lousy picture of what I produced:

An off-centre Picture of my Linocut Print. Sorry.

I dunno if I even like it, but after having printed it so many times trying to get it right, I am done with it. Totally done.

Next project is an intaglio print. Same size as the first — 7" x 7" — but this time a sheet of plexiglass is the plate, and we’ll use a scratching tool to create the image in it. The paper will be wet when we run it through the press as well, because in this technique the ink is applied to the plate and then wiped off, leaving it only in the indentations. Wet paper deforms in the press and goes into those to pick up the ink, dry paper can’t do that.

These prints will be in black as well, but the process is sort of the opposite of linocut. In linocut what you remove from the plate is white in the print, while in intaglio what you “remove” (by scratching) becomes the dark area.

We’ve been asked to create a few possible images to work from, concentrating on “nocturn”… that is, light at night. I have a few things I am pondering, but no images sketched out yet. So far I am thinking about:

  • A scene where a computer monitor is the illumination in a room
  • A scene where a welding torch is seen through a welding mask, as some metal bits are being worked
  • An aurora over a snowy landscape
  • The YVR airport seen from across the river at night — this is a photo I can take, weather permitting

The welding and aurora options might lead to an interesting option of putting water colour on the print as well, to give it some colour in places. I need to ask the instructor about that, however. That is definitely possible with linocut, but again, the paper is dry, even after the colour is applied. Wet paper will make that impossible before an intaglio print is done, but maybe it could be applied after the ink is dry? Thinking.


We did crit here too. My sculpture seemed to be a hit, and I have a nice, high grade: 95%. Here’s the best picture I currently have of it:

Final Metal Sculpture

Here’s an image of the work and the maquette in the same orientation:

Maquette and Sculpture

Note the big round wire changed sides (and thus directions), and there are a couple of other, more minor differences — mostly to do with angles — but overall the end result is pretty much what I planned. I feel good about that.

Once crit was done we started in on the wood project learning curve. There’s basically four hours of training we have to get before we’re turned loose in the shop with wood tools that can turn flesh into vapour. We’re also expected to create drawings of the object we want to create, and we’ll get help working out the processes we need as we go.

And that’s an interesting point: the wood sculpture needs to be a thing, in large measure taken from the real world. We’re not going abstract this time, it has to be representational at some level. That said, I’ve asked the instructor if I could recreate my metal sculpture in wood, and he likes that idea. I am not sure I want to take it on, but I am considering it.

I am also thinking about something equally nasty to make: a T4 bacteriophage (AKA a particular virus) that looks something like this:

T4 Bacteriophage, from New Scientist

Yeah, that’d be wicked hard to create in wood as well, I know. But apparently I am the kind of nut job who likes pain. But you probably already knew that.

Anyway, I am thinking about these things. I hope to know more next week.


Last week’s homework assignment included finishing a drawing based on textures (for extra credit) and creating a collage that we were then to draw. I got it all done mostly over the weekend — I am really trying to keep ahead of the game! — and here is the result:

Week 5 assignment: Create a collage, then draw it

As you can see, I raided my stash of hardware stuff to supplies. The cloth in the background is from an old Hawaiian shirt that had given up the ghost a long time back. No doubt someone will ask how I managed to make the drawing as accurate as I did (and I note that it isn’t exactly perfect, but it’s close). The trick is modern technology.

What I did was take a picture of the collage after I’d made it. I sucked that into my computer, straightened it out (using GIMP, if you’re curious), then scaled it to actual size, 5" x 6". Once there I created a grid on 1" centres and drew a grid of lines over it on 1" intervals. Then I scaled it back up to fill a page and printed it out. Now I have a larger than life image that shows me where things go on a 1" grid.

Then I very faintly drew in a 1" grid on the final paper, and started transcribing the locations of objects. The lines give me extra reference points to work with, and the positions are pretty close.

Here’s a picture of the scaled image on the wall and the final setup on the table:

This is not cheating!

I must have done OK on this. Full credit again. The intent was to study the drawing of textures, and that brings us back to the extra credit drawing which was composed of textures we collected in the room last week. Here’s that, just for grins:

Composed only of redrawn textures.

I don’t know how impressed I am with that drawing, but I got 2% extra credit for it (max of 3%, so that’s not nothing).

This week’s class featured a model and the re-appearance of the “I Can’t Draw Today Monster.” It was bad. Everything I produced was awful. No pictures of the class work as a result. I’d actually have junked it all but we’ve been told to keep it because there is some project coming up where we’re going to do “cool things” with our in-class work. The stack of junk I am keeping is growing as a result.

Finally, I also found this in the B building, across from the main hallway where many of the art instructor’s offices are:



Today we got the basics of the sound project. We’re each going to compose a two minute audio piece based on some combination of sound from various online sources and things we record ourselves. Base sounds will get cut up, modified, and layered in Adobe Premier to produce the final result. We’re not after music per se here, and we’re not expected to re-mix existing music. Instead we’re thing outside the box about the aural experience. We were also assigned a kind of sound to work with. Mine is construction sounds. Hmmm. We were split up into groups to talk about this stuff and the woman next to me was given Morse code and had no idea what to do with that. I told her I was jealous and proceeded to tell her several ways I would work with it to do interesting things. That was easy. Construction noise will probably prove reasonable as well, but I am not sure of that yet. Gotta do a bunch of work with it to figure that out.

Eventually I’ll figure out a way to link to an MP3 file that I produce here, but that is a ways off.

We were also given our grades on the digital collages we turned in. I got 19/20 on that, so yay, another A grade I guess. I note this does not mean I am a successful digital artist, nor that I have plans to become one. But it’s nice to know the instructor appreciates the effort I put in, and gets what I did.

That ends the week, I think.

Except for the car weirdness. I came home on Thursday to the news that Anne’s car wouldn’t start. I checked it out and the battery was dead. OK. Not good. But it’s the battery that came with the car and it’s something like 2.5 years old, so it could be dying.

Then again, a few weeks back we had a rodent take up residence in her engine block for a few days. It left, I cleaned out the mess, and I saw no evidence of wires being chewed, but who knows, right?

So I called the place I found locally that I like. Turns out they used to be associated with Sears and couldn’t get me a battery for a reasonable price. They told us to go somewhere else.

So I did. I went to another shop, bought a battery, and installed it myself. I could have had them do an electrical test but they wanted $40 for it.

Instead drove the car back to the first place and asked them to do an electrical test, which they did for free. And everything is fine… the entire starting and charging system seems OK. The entire issue was a case of coincidence… rodent and dying battery. No worries, except for losing Friday afternoon to the effort to make it all right.

And that shop that did the electrical test? They’ve got my business for as long as I am in the area. Though they are part of a chain they remind me a bit of a certain shop I used to work for. And whom I should actually thank for teaching me just about everything I know about cars, including how to properly change a battery. It’s not as simple as you might think if you want to do it properly.


Interesting reading/watching from the past week, as curated by me, based on the craziness that comes through my various feeds, plus things you send me that catch my attention.

  • David Byrne sings David Bowie’s Heroes with a huge choir of normal people. Nice.
  • This isn’t actually new to me this week, but it’s time to share it. Page through the archive if you can. I am particularly amused by the occasional appearance of “Great Moments in Phallic Portraiture.” You’ll see one eventually.
  • An article about Facebook. I use the platform in a limited way, but I hate it. As it happens, I also use twitter in a limited way, but I hate it too. I’ve been thinking about Mastodon as a Twitter alternative, because you can pick a server where the rules clearly state that that Nazis, racists, homophobes, and (one assumes) idiots elected president and their stupid, anti-American ideas are prohibited. But that would be more work, and I am very busy, so I am undecided about making that change at this time. But anyway… good article about FB.
  • This came through my feed on the same day as the FB article. The NYT — a paper I have some issues with, mostly because it’s too sympathetic to the far right, and gives them too much easy ink — wrote an article about a company selling fake twitter (and other social media) accounts. It turns out the idiot a l’orange in the white house has a lot of fake followers too (link) but many of them were probably put there by his friend in Russia. He’s too dumb to do it himself. Anyway, other than some really annoying CSS work to show charts (just let me click on them, dammit.) this is a good article. Worth a read if you want to know about how social media is really working. I’ve read a number of articles about this in recent years but it’s good to see one get into the MSM.
  • Here’s another link to a piece from Stonekettle Station, this one a response to Trump’s state of the union speech. Not that long, and definitely worth reading.
  • The usual index of art school posts, which is rapidly becoming an index of all my posts on Medium, in chronological order, because Medium’s display isn’t chronological, as far as I can tell.

Dog Pictures

This isn’t a dog picture — Sorry Nicki! — and it’s not from this past week, but not too long before that I was working at the computer and looked out the office window to see:

Clearly The Sun Does Occasionally Appear In Vancouver

Rainbows. Rain & sun. Of late there has been a lot more rain than sun, but it does peek out every so often. The locals actually make “Oooh!” noises when it happens. (I’ve heard it. Multiple times.) As for me, sun is sun. I love the rain. I lived in fire country too long and as a result the rain is a wonder that I can’t currently imagine getting sick of.

Still, a rainbow is nice to see from time to time.



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Jeff Powell

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