Art School: Semester 4, Week 13

Hello once again everyone. This ought to be the last week of class, but it turns out three of my classes have another meeting next week. Thankfully I have no final exams this time around, though, so things are winding up.

For the record, Tinkerbelle still seems good. I keep wondering if this is a permanent improvement or not, but so far it is holding. There is a vet followup visit next week, I think, and perhaps we’ll learn more then.

We had a really heavy rainstorm this past week, the kind of thing that might have been called a “Pineapple Express” back in California. I didn’t actually chase down where the moisture came from, sadly, but I am pretty sure it was from down near the equator somewhere. We had reasonably warm temperatures at the time, that are now starting to drop. We should see temperatures near zero (Celsius) overnight in the coming days, and there is even a chance of snow a week out. Winter is no longer coming… it’s here.

Anyway, enough blather. I am sure you want to know the details from the week’s classes, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Here you go:

Professional Practice

This class is officially over and done. This week we did the last artist talks, and as expected it was fascinating to hear from my fellow students. There are quite a few people who came back to school after a rocky start some time before, and a fair number suffering from (or who have suffered from) things like depression. You could pretty well support the claim that artists are all a bit weird in some way based on this class full of people. Most interesting, though, was just how differently we all take our art and the directions we head in. Some — most, actually — are 2D only artists, while a very few (like me) are 3D only, and several have interests in both arenas. Focuses varied: zines and comics, painting, drawing, and so on. Colour is a passion for many, but one was afraid of it and is only recently learning to use it a bit. (Surprisingly, that wasn’t me.) Figurative, abstract, representational, personal, profound, silly, provocative, beautiful, challenging: you could find all of those and more in the work of my classmates. Very interesting.

I have deeper respect for everyone after hearing their stories. It is very clear that our instructors face challenges dealing with students who are so different, and whose interests and skills vary so much. The students, on the other hand, have such diverse backgrounds and issues, it’s fascinating to see how they move forward and what they accomplish. I am sure any random selection of students taken from this art program would give a similarly interesting result.

I should also mention that the Fraud Police — the enforcers of Imposter Syndrome — are probably out in force at this point. After listening to all those art talks I know I feel like I don’t really belong. My classmates are all so talented, and I just do stuff, or so it seems. But I am old enough to know that most of my fellow students probably feel exactly the same way when they look at the work of others, including my own. And in fact it’s common among us all — in every field and of every age — to feel as if we’re just making it all up as we go along. Honestly, I know all that, but it’s still weird to have my face rubbed in it so directly though all of these talks.


The lamp exhibit is up:

It’s quite an impressive display. Each student’s work get’s a section of wall. At the top is a selection of the sketches they did during the design work. Below that are the sheets holding the laser cut pieces that form their lamp. Below that is a shelf that holds the lamp itself (in all cases but one, my own) and the lamp is wired into the wires down below. My personal section is slightly different because my lamp hangs, but I put the assembly instructions on the shelf. Here’s my display:

As with the rest of my classes, the students all did such different things in response to a simple set of criteria that it’s amazing. Here are photos of all the lamps:

As you can see, all very different and all very interesting!

Like my carving and sculpture classes, this design class has been extended a week. The instructor would like to talk about the process and what we did — a crit of sorts — and we simply didn’t have time for it in the class. So, one more class next week to attend and see what comes up. All in all, I think this went well, and I look forward to the next design class where we’ll be designing a wood stool. We will once again be using the laser cutter for prototypes, but we also have access to a CNC router that can cut things in three dimensions, and we’ll be using Rhino CAD to do the design. Should be a lot of fun.

Aboriginal Carving

Well, this class is officially extended to next week as well. Not a big deal for me, but it means I have three classes next week now. This past week I did finish up one more piece. I think I’ve previously mentioned that I was carving a bit of basswood into yet another flamingo. Well, it’s done:

Yes, it’s really silly, and hardly a great example of wood carving. But the neck didn’t break, and that is the important thing. When your instructor says “X is impossible” it’s important to go out and prove him (or her) wrong. He said I’d break the neck, so…

And it occurs to me that I probably haven’t introduced you to that instructor: Aaron Nelson-Moody — aka Splashing Eagle, or just Splash. He carved a housepost at a local school and they have photos and information about it and him online here: Click around on that page to see more.

In other news, last weekend I bought a bunch of gouges for the 3D class next term. Fun, if expensive. (They were on sale, though. It was black Friday weekend, at least.) I have barely started playing with them.

I also have several pieces of extra wood to carve this weekend, thanks to Splash and a fellow student who shared some that she’d come into. I’d like to finish up one more piece before the final class next week if possible. I actually started one yesterday — a 3D thing in a piece of junk 2x4 that might be interesting — but it will take a lot of time. I am pondering other possibilities as well. If I pull something off, there will be more to show next week.


I continue to be done with Leo — the giant, foot headed, thick necked flamingo — so this week’s class was pretty light for me. All I did was touch up the paint on his base and some cleaning in the studio. As a class we discussed some general approaches to sculpture based on a couple of books, and in particular noted how the expectations and analysis of sculpture have changed, more or less since Rodin’s famous statue of Balzac. Interesting discussion.

As for Leo himself, I had only one guess as to why the name, and no, he’s not named after Tolstoy. Anyone else want to try, or should I just spill the beans after next week’s crit?


A good friend published a bookBigfoots in Paradise — and I’m a minor character in one story. My copy is on the way, but the Canada Post strike will delay it’s arrival for who knows how long. In the meantime, you can get your very own copy, on dead trees or for your Kindle at the link above.

Food for thought: what exactly does citizenship mean, and is it a good idea to maintain dual citizenship? For the author of this piece, the answer to that second question turned out to be “no.”

The Usual Art School Post Index. So you can see these stories in order if you want to.


Last week I shared a picture of my pants and shoes, covered in plaster, taken as I rode home on the SkyTrain. This week I have a photo of Natalie — a fellow student — working on her sculpture, and modelling a significant amount of the same stuff:

And here’s an exhibit put up by the Advanced Ceramics class:

Each student created a piece of the body, and the result is what you see. That photo doesn’t do it justice, alas, as there was a post in the way making taking the picture a challenge. It’s quite impressive, and this is the first time the instructor has given that assignment to her class.

And In Conclusion…

Here’s a video of my carving instructor’s instructor doing some work on a piece. The tool he is using is beautiful, but I have no clue what to call it… knife, gauge, chisel. Whatever it is, it’s quite amazing.

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