Art School: Semester 2, Week 6

Jeff Powell
7 min readFeb 11, 2018


Welcome, my son. Welcome to the machine!

No, not really. Welcome to the weekly summary of Jeff’s adventures in art school. This time, week six of his second semester, in which, well… read on.

Art History

This week we turned in our first writing assignment. I don’t recall if I described it in a previous post — surely I must have — but in short, it’s a series of questions based on an exhibit of mostly self portraits at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s not really worth sharing since it is so specific to the exhibit.

We continued the previous lecture on art and religion as well. I think the most interesting thing (for me) to come out of that section was actually the Rothko Chapel. I had no idea such a thing existed. Proof that the universe is not only weirder than we know, it’s weirder than we can know. (That’s a paraphrase of a line by Werner Heisenberg, by the way).


This week we were given the material for our intaglio plates: Plexiglas. And special tools to scratch the image into them. And we discussed our possible images with the instructor, and got a demo of how to print these things.

I had five sketches of images to consider, and she liked the two I thought she would discard immediately. Interesting. But even more interesting was a later conversation that opened up some new possibilities for me. I may create something non-representational with this print. We’ll see.

Oh, and there was another interesting thing. We were actually given two plates. The first is made of Lexan, which is a bit harder than Plexiglas. It also doesn’t cut as well, and the edges are a bit wavy in places. We try to clean them up — and I did OK at it — but she then gave everyone who wanted one a Plexiglas plate too. So most of us have two plates to work with this time around.

This coming week is reading week — also called Spring break — so we have a full week to get an image in the plate because we need to proof them on the first Tuesday when we get back.


We had the rest of the wood lecture. That covered the rest of the woodworking machines in the shop, as well as finishing techniques. We get tested on this material (plus the contents of the first lecture, from last week) immediately after reading break. And in the meantime, we finish our designs, create drawings, buy wood if needed, and get ready to get going. Some of us will get into the shop over reading break as well, to get started. I did my drawings (no one but me will understand them at all) and bought wood:

Wood for the sculpture project

Last time I think I wasn’t yet sure what the subject of the sculpture would be, but it’s decided now. I am creating a giant bacteriophage. The alternative was to recreate my metal sculpture in wood. Alas I did enough research on steam bending to realize that I simply couldn’t do that project well enough in the time I have available. Too bad, but this will be cool regardless.

I’ll try to document it along the way.


Last week’s assignment was to research an artist and draw at least five hands in the style of that artist. There was also some sketchbook work drawing hands as well. I picked Egon Schiele, and researched his style. Alert: do not go searching for things he drew while at work. Some — well, perhaps a lot — of his stuff gets, um… well… let’s say it straddles the line between art and porn. I am not sure how I feel about a lot of it, actually. But he does have a very loose style, and he distorts limbs and fingers a lot. It’s nothing like what I do when left to my own devices, so I decided to try it. Here are two safe links: one of a hand sketch, and another of a self portrait that includes his hands. Those are what I based my work on. (Again… don’t click through those to the sites they come from unless you’re… ready for other things. Sigh.)

Also, the work we turned in was to evoke a narrative or question. I figured that out early, and once I had a style, I created this:

Drawing of 5 Hands, a la Egon Schiele

For those who don’t know — which will be most of you — those are saying H-A-N-D-S in American Sign Language. Yes, there is a specific sign for hands, but it involves a lot of motion, and was much more difficult to capture in a still drawing.

There is a lot of work in that simple drawing, let me tell you. A couple of hours of research on artists, then another hour on the ASL, then a practice drawing to figure out the style, and then another one and a half hours creating the actual thing. And I still screwed it up a couple of times and had to erase and go back. Definitely not a fast, loose style for me. And I am not someone who draws for fun. This is work.

The medium is: 2H pencil for layout; willow stick charcoal for the hand outlines; chalk pastel for the color; and regular charcoal for the shadows.

In class we worked on drawing draped fabric, and we have a homework assignment to do more of that. But the week we get back we’re going on a field trip to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. We’ll get another assignment there, and both it and the fabric assignment will be due the week after that. I will get the drapery drawing done this week, though. I do not want to fall behind with the wood sculpture project bearing down on me.


Media class saw us learning more about Adobe Premier Pro so we can work out our sound projects. Which, FYI, are due the week we get back from reading week. So I have to create an interesting sound “thing” from construction noises this week and have it ready to crit the Friday of the week we’re back in class.

We also had some discussion about artists that use sound and projects that feature sound. There are interesting things here, though I am not at all sure I understand even a fraction of this part of the art world yet. Lots to learn.


As usual, I am including some interesting links. These came from friends and from my own reading.

  • Did Elon Musk and SpaceX create art when he put his Tesla Roadster into space? I was asked this question based on the article below by Jim and Ducky. I am honestly not sure of the answer yet. I sent it off to a couple of my instructors at Langara to see what they have to say. If they answer, perhaps I will share those insights next week.
  • Art is a cycle. Sometimes you’re good at it. Sometimes you stink. Here’s an explanation for that, also shared with me by Ducky:
  • A good, short, and even funny read about the idiocy of James Dahmore’s memo about women at Google. Posted to G+ by a female friend of mine.
  • 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

As is relatively common, I have no new dog pictures for Nicki this week. I am sorry, Nicki. It’s been a busy week, even though there isn’t a lot to show for it yet. Maybe next week.

We do have some new lights for the dogs when we walk them at night. They’ve got light up collars and dangly light things we add to those. And I wear a light up safety vest and a couple of light up arm bands. Someday I need a hat with light up deely bobbers (aka antenna) to complete the ensemble. Maybe I can get Anne to take a picture of me in that, along with a dog or two. That would be fun.


As always, please notify me about typos (and brainos) in here. I am sure there are a lot this time around. Thank you!



Jeff Powell

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