Today is the Saturday after my first week at art school. I’ve promised to share what I can about this experience, so here goes: My schedule is fairly busy by modern college standards, I guess. Three courses is called a full load in a given semester. I am taking five, and started out thinking I would take six. I worried a bit about the load initially, but now I think I’ll be OK. As announced at the various orientations (which I am discovering lots of students didn’t attend), each class gave us a detailed syllabus, listing just about all the dates you could want. There is one exception: final exam dates aren’t yet set, so I don’t know when my Art History final will be. None of my other classes have exams, just projects of various kinds due throughout the semester. Overall the classes seem good, though just one session of each isn’t a lot to go on. Overall the students I’ve talked with seem to think these instructors are good (I agree) and I think all of my studio instructors have taught (or currently teach) at Emily Carr University (or some other major school) in addition to teaching at Langara College. Emily Carr is a big art & design school, with some prestige, so if they’re associated with Emily Carr in some way, they have recognition, if I understand the world properly. My schedule has no classes on Monday, which is nice. It gives me an extra day each weekend to do homework, and I am already pretty sure I will need that. Thoughts on individual classes:

  • Ceramics: We have a substitute instructor here: Gailan Ngan. The usual instructor is off taking a class herself, so they’ve brought in Gailin. She’s quite good, very nice, and interesting, with lots of relevant background. Her website is Our first assignment is to create a coil built work of some kind. We’re going to glaze the greenware, before it is fired. There are two other projects in this course: a work done in clay slabs, and a simple set of pots thrown on a wheel. And of course there is all kinds of other stuff to go along with all of that, the technical side of kiln loading, firing, glazing, etc. We haven’t even started in on the first pot, though. That happens this coming Tuesday.
  • Visual Culture I (Art History): This is a thematic overview of art, rather than one organized chronologically. The instructor is Dr. Ivana Horacek, who has taught at quite a number of schools, including UBC, and most recently at the University of Minnesota. So far I think she will be an excellent instructor, and I have hope of learning a lot in her class. I don’t delude myself into thinking I will be the best student there, but I hope to do well, and her teaching style seems suited to me. I’ll know more with additional class time, but it seems good.
  • Painting: Taught be Steven Hubert (whose website I cannot be certain of; there are a few that might be his, but I am unable to confirm that given what I know, and they lack pictures of him, so… I can’t give a link I know is right) who is an instructor at Langara, Emily Carr, Simon Fraser University (I think), and probably others. His approach is direct and to the point: paint a lot. He’s got exercises for us, and is starting us off with a limited palette (monochromatic at first). We did some painting the first day, mostly to loosen up and get the idea, I think. Next week we start getting formal assignments to do during class and afterwards. All painting in this class is with acrylics, no oils or water colors. I’m OK with that. My oil experience is that they turn muddy brown when I look at them, and I know nothing about using water colors after about grade 3. Assuming I take more painting classes, I’m sure I’ll learn more about those options. To be honest, this class probably worries more than any other, simply because my previous painting experiences gave me so much frustration. Time will tell how I react to the media, but this instructor seems like a good one to me, and I hope to enjoy it and learn a lot.
  • Design: This is an introductory Industrial Design class taught by Philip Robbins (yet another instructor who’s taught in many places). Our first assignment involved drawing an orthographic projection of a simple object. Eventually we’ll be creating ideas for things and figuring out how to draw or document them, and even some computer (CAD) work. Given my background I expect a lot of this to be pretty simple, but I have to work at it not to make stupid mistakes, and my technique will probably never be perfect. This is another class I think I’ll enjoy, but I do wonder a bit about organization. I expect we’ll be doing some group work, rather than all individual projects, and working in groups — despite being part of reality — is an odd thing in school. If everyone works hard and well, it can be fine. If not, things can go sideways in a hurry. In the real world you’re always working in groups, but there isn’t a grade coming, per se, and your manager should know what you’ve done and how much effort you put in. So even if a project tanks (and a lot do) it’s not held against you personally unless you deserve it. That grade on a project in school is always kind of worrisome, and there may be nothing you can do about the level of effort on the part of another person in your group. We’ll see how it goes, obviously, and I expect it won’t be an issue, but I still worry about these things.
  • Drawing: Taught by Sarita Baker, who has also taught at a bunch of schools, played in a band, and written music for a cartoon TV show. Her class is an introduction to drawing, and gets us going with exercises and assignments. I don’t have a sense of how well I will do at this — I get uptight about my own work pretty easily — but it seems she isn’t worried about such things, and will help us succeed. Again I was unable to find a website specifically hers, so I have no good link to share.

Thus far I have no pictures to share of anything I have done. We did some drawings in the first drawing class, but I recycled them all. We did a couple of quick paintings on paper in the painting class, and those are still in the classroom, but are definitely not worth sharing. The first homework in the design class is done and sitting in a drawer at school waiting to be turned in. And (as stated above) no clay has been worked yet. So don’t expect pictures for another week or two, I think. There. Now you are as up to date as I am on my first week of school. Now I need to publish this and get started on some ceramics homework.

PS: It’s cool and rainy today. Totally overcast. Absolutely lovely weather for me. I am happy with it!

Originally published at on November 3, 2017.

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