Art School, Week 7

It’s hard to believe that I’ve through seven weeks of the first semester already.

I am already starting to plan my classes for the spring semester. Registration starts pretty soon, and I need to be ready.

In any case, here is what happened last week: In ceramics, I decided that my project was too plain, so I added a vertical stripe to each piece. This was done with black slip applied over white slip. I hope it looks good after firing, but who knows. This is the pieces all disassembled and continuing to dry in preparation for bisque firing next week:

Nothing is perfect in this work. Things are all slightly askew, in particular, and there is some surface roughness that I am less than entirely happy with. But overall I have hope they will turn out well once they are glazed. The plan remains to glaze them all with a turquoise glaze over the white (and now black) slip. There is also a chance I will instead use different colours on some of the sections, but I am not all that thrilled with the other colour choices available to us in this project. There are seven glazes we can choose from, but two react badly with black slip (making a mess in the kiln and possibly damaging nearby pieces in the process) and one is the same clear we used last time. That leaves just four new glazes that will work in my case. Oh, and we’re not allowed to overlap the glazes either, to avoid drips & runs in the firing process.

Art history — AKA Visual Culture I — was another lecture that will be included in the mid-term, which is next week. That will be my first college test in over three decades. The instructor tells me not to worry about it — she says I will do just fine — but no one does these things calmly. I will be fine, I know, but it does add stress.

Painting class this week was another round of life painting, at which I continue to stink — and a very amusing homework assignment. First, though, the best painting from the in class life painting session:

I told you it was pretty bad. That’s on paper, as the canvas painting was even worse.

The painting homework this week is to paint something from a song. Any song. It could be what the song makes you see or feel, or it could be a narrative of the song itself. I’ve got several relatively obscure things running around in my head as a result, and I am not at all sure which I will choose. Or I might get crazy and do more than one. Dunno. Results of that effort will appear here next week assuming they don’t stink too.

Design studio gave us a new project: we’re building a model of a pavilion for a garden here in Vancouver, based on something to do with insects: their movement, life cycle, etc. We are not, however, supposed to have the pavilion be a giant insect. I’ve been toying with fireflies, but I am not happy with the things I have come up with so far. As a result, this weekend has me pondering this assignment again. We get a couple of hours in class to work on it this coming week, but it’s due at the end of class, so I need this resolved and worked out. Also, he gave us back our grades on the wire model/movement work, and I got another A. Seems like things are going well in that class for me.

Finally we had drawing class yesterday, and we turned in our assignment from last week. That was a triptych in which we setup a still life and did some interesting things we positive vs. negative space. We were working on manila paper with charcoal and chalk or white pastel (or Conté). Here’s what I turned in:

And here’s what the still life setup for it looked like:

There are some interesting distortions in in, but I am reasonably happy with the results. Apparently the instructor was as well. A perfect score and a request that she be allowed to keep it for a while (along with several others) to put up on display somewhere. The drawing homework for this week is an interior drawing of a house in one point perspective, with something wacky added to it. I have ideas, but I am more worried about other homework due sooner, so it will wait a while.

I’d say that ended the week, but as dinner was ending I was starting to feel a sore throat come on, and it only got worse over night. I appear to have a cold. Not fun.

I did go out and buy an A/V receiver to replace the dead one, so we can once again drive real speakers when watching TV. I haven’t completely set it up yet, but we used it last night and it sounded pretty good. Just a cheap Yamaha in this case — last year’s model, even — but it will do the job.

In other news, the weather in Vancouver has continued cool and rainy. We keep hearing fairly apocalyptic weather predictions on the CBC radio in the morning: huge storms that will produce 22–50 mm of rain. You do the math, but it’s nothing compared to what we experienced in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

And speaking of those, there was a pretty large fire something like seven miles from our old home last week. Called the Bear Fire, it’s in really rugged terrain, and in a very odd area where there are a lot of transients and a fair amount of illegal activity. I was in there a few times when I was a member of the VFD, and it’s the place where I was famously told by a local that we should not leave the fire engines unattended overnight or they would be stripped clean. Very weird. Anyway, it’s currently listed at 391 acres and 50% contained. CalFire seems to be getting a handle on it. I have stopped worrying about it. I think they finally got a little rain down there as well, which is good.

That ends this week’s update, I think. With luck this cold will pass quickly, I’ll get painting & design done this weekend, and the art history test will go well. Time will tell.

Originally published at on November 6, 2017.

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

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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell

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

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