Art School: Semester 4, Week 5

Argh. Another week sick. A long week sick. Mostly it’s just a cough now, but it sure is annoying, and it won’t go away. Such fun. Anne’s got it too, so we’re quite the pair as we spend the days hacking our lungs up. Nice visual, eh?

Anyway, the week has been… a week. Temperatures are dropping and there is rain, off and on. I’d be very happy about it if I didn’t have to cough all the time.

There is some bad news, though. Tinkerbelle has decided to have hip problems. With no real notice she got all wobbly in the back end, and instead of her usual powerful — if clumsy — charging around, she now staggers like she’s drunk. The vet tells us it seems to be neural, and referred us to a canine neurologist. That appointment isn’t for another week and a half, or so. In the meantime we did get her x-rayed to see how her hips look, and oh boy has she got a whopper case of hip dysplasia. Someday that will be a problem. Right now, though, it’s not the issue. Something else is going on, and we need to figure it out if we can.

Thankfully she’s not in pain, though she clearly knows she cannot trust her back end. However, she’s also still a puppy at heart, and when she can’t stand it any more she bluff charges Cruzer and tears across the yard. It almost looks fine until she cannot make a turn and both back feet go out from underneath her. But she pops back up and clobbers Cruzer again. Despite setbacks, life goes on.

For now, we hope that she either gets better or the neurologist points us in a reasonable direction. In the absence of that, she’s OK so long as there is no pain and she doesn’t get worse. Time will tell.

Anyway, on to school, as I have no comments anyone wants to read about the rest of the world at this time.

Oh… wait. For my American readers, this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. Anne and I will be hiding at home, coughing and avoiding giving our friends this disease. But that also means more time for homework, so that’s good.

Professional Practice

This week we discussed budgeting. Budgeting.

Some of my fellow students already know I have a spreadsheet for everything. Budgeting isn’t exactly an issue for me, but I admit I am not really the usual target student for this class.

Oh well.

Next week we are doing our five minute presentations about something art related. I’ll be introducing my fellow students to Gian Carlo Stone, which is a local stoneyard. That won’t be too hard, honestly, so next week will be fine.

The larger problem is creating my artist statement. I had the instructor review an early draft of it, which she shredded mercilessly. The problem is that this is a kind of writing I hate doing, for two reasons:

  1. It’s about me, and in the first person. It’s not about what I did, or what I saw… it’s this sort of biographical thing that tries to tie together why I make art. Not how, mind you, why. It’s an awful thing to write, and it feels very… self centred. And please note that I fully recognize the irony of writing that in this blog, in which I discuss what I am doing with my life in art school in Canada. I get it, but somehow that document feels very different. It doesn’t write easily or nicely.
  2. It’s intended to be written in an academic style, and I despise academic writing. Those of you who followed me through the summer know of my experience in my English class, where there was some worry about academic writing. That was compounded with a bit of writing for my Art of Canada class, where some of the same issues came up. Academic writing is the death of good writing. It should be eliminated.

I don’t have a hard due date for this document yet, but she wants an(other) early draft submitted relatively soon, probably in a week or two. She’s actually still waiting on the photography lights to arrive, and then students who haven’t already done so will get to photograph their work, and when those photos are due, she wants a draft artist’s statement as well. But it’s all based on when the (back ordered) lights actually arrive.

Oddly, there’s another thing going on relating to this class that I have yet to fully figure out. We have a project coming up which is to apply for something — a grant, an academic program, a residency, a show, to be represented by a gallery — something art related. I’m not really ready to do any of those things, so I am probably only going to go so far as prepping everything as if I would apply, but there’s a wrinkle. Out of idle curiosity I checked with a local school to see if my previous BS degree (from ages ago, in engineering) would help me get past some of the requirements and into an MFA program. The answer, rather surprisingly, was that it probably would.

So now I have that option, at least in theory. I could consider going on for an MFA (if I want) which would let me teach (if I want). But honestly, I really don’t know if I want to do that or not. Not a clue at this time. So I guess I put that possibility in my back pocket and see what happens as I approach the end of my time at Langara. It’s interesting to have that unexpected option open up, though, so more thought is needed.


This past week was — for me — more time exploring the materials we’re going to be using to create our lights. I think I have the general idea of the design selected, and I am starting to home in on a plan for it, but it’s not simple. As a result this weekend I get to spend time creating templates in Illustrator that I will cut out on the laser cutter next week. They will help me figure out if I have enough of a clue or not. I am firmly in the “iteration” portion of the design process at this point, refining the plan to make it right. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I realize I have no photos from anything in this class so far, and I apologize for that. The sketches to date continue to be poor and ugly, and I have little physical stuff to show for my work. Maybe this coming week that will change.

Aboriginal Carving

This class is so interesting. Half of it is carving wood and the other half is interesting stories and different perspectives on things. Oh, and the third half is sharpening our knives. Actually that’s more like 80% of what I do in here. (OK… no… not really. But there is a lot of sharpening to be done. A lot.)

I think I was the first to finish up the latest project. Last week I believe I described the canoe project: cut an outline of a canoe out of some cedar, about 3/4" x 3" x 6". The interesting thing here is that the instructor wanted us to keep the cut edges flat and perpendicular to the sides of the canoe. The shape also caused us to encounter grain issues in various directions. It’s clear that he is gradually and deliberately introducing us to these things.

Anyway, I finished mine, and showed it to him. He was impressed because most new woodcarvers want to round the corners. I didn’t do that, but then again I have blocked in many stone sculptures, and the process is something I understand intuitively.

Anyway, he tells me there are a few things we will do to the canoes next time, so there’s that. Eventually we will carve at home, too, it seems, so that’s interesting.

If I am with it I will take a picture of the canoe next week. I didn’t even think of it this time around, sadly. So, if these descriptions aren’t making sense, perhaps they will next time.


This past week I made a base for my sculpture, sanded the stone to 3500 grit, and waxed it. Alas I was too dumb — and too out of it, thanks cold! — to remember to photo the stone once it was waxed. But here’s a pic of it after it was fully sanded:

So that is basically done. The base is just a hunk of red oak, about 2" thick and 10" x 10" square, sanded and lacquered black. The challenge with it is that after I was sure the lacquer had dried I wrapped the base up in a towel to keep it from getting dusty, and on opening it up a couple of days later discovered that the towel had left cloth imprints in the lacquer. Not good. So I sanded them out and then applied another coat. That is now drying (for most of a week) before crit, and it is hidden away in a dust free location where it can cure without being wrapped up. It should be ready to go next week. I hope.

Crit is this coming week, or at least much of it is. That class period has us doing crit, getting an overview of welding, and getting the introduction to the next project. We might not get through everyone’s sculptures in the crit session, in which case it will continue the week after. But everyone has to be ready to go on Thursday, so the work needs to be done.

I will definitely take some photos of the piece on the base during crit. They won’t be great photos, but they will provide a better view of the work.


Nothing exciting this week. Sorry.

Art School Post Index. Because Medium didn’t get the ordering right when I imported posts from somewhere else, and I can’t figure out how to fix it.


The other day, coming home in the rain, a large cruise ship pulled out of the dock at the same time as we did. Meet the Eurodam:

She’s big. Not the biggest ship that docs in Vancouver — we just had the first visit from the Norwegian Bliss, apparently the largest cruise ship in the world, carrying 4990 passengers — but still quite large. She made good speed exiting the harbour. I looked her up after taking the picture and noted she was heading for Hawaii. That’s an interesting cruise, I guess, though you won’t get me on a big ship like that. I was recently described as “a hummingbird in a shoe box” by one of my classmates, and that doesn’t go well with cruise ships.

And In Conclusion…

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about these computer repair techniques!?! They could have saved me so much time!

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