Art School, Week 9

Wheel Throwing, First Attempts

Hello! This is a test.

I’ve been using another blogging platform for years, but it’s not well supported anymore — having significant issues with commenting for some of my readers, among other things — so I am trying Medium. Anyone new to my Canadian art school situation can read my previous posts about art school (and other things) at my old blog. Catching up isn’t essential, but might be useful.

Everyone else: I am looking for feedback on Medium vs. the old service. I could go to another provider — there are quite a few to choose from — but a quick look around lead me here. I want to know what you think. This link lets you email me, if you’d rather not comment publicly. And if Medium works out, I’ll import the relevant older posts here as well.

Anyway, on to week 9.

The homework is piling up again. A lot. It’s going to be a very long weekend.

Ceramics continues to go well, though it is part of my weekend homework. The current assignment — the last one for the semester — is wheel throwing. We’re to create three cylinders, roughly four inches in diameter and six inches tall. They may be attached to each other in the end, or have feet added, but nominally they are just simple cylinders for starters.

And as anyone who has tried it knows, wheel throwing is not something you just do. It looks so simple in the hands of those who do it well, but for the beginner there are zillions of ways for it to go wrong. I have something like ten hours of time into it so far, and the four cylinders in the top image are all I have to show for it. They are OK. Not stellar, but reasonable. I shall spend more time in the studio this weekend continuing that work, to see if I can replace them with something better.

Art History gave us our mid term exams back. I think I got an A, but I only have a percentage score. And almost all of my points off were for being too limited in my thoughts about certain things. Mostly multiple choice definitions, oddly. In any case, I am happy with the result. The lecture this week was on the origins of writing and writing media. We have an exercise to do at home as well, and some reading. More homework for the pile.

Painting is getting interesting, and challenging. Our homework last week was to bring in an object, an image, and some text, all of which we’re supposed to have some personal connection to. In class, we were first told to take a large sheet of paper and paint anything at all on it, on both sides. We had about 45 minutes to accomplish that, so we weren’t being too precious about it. Then we were told to rip it up — remember this is acrylic and it dries really quickly, particularly on paper — and create a sculpture out of it. Finally, we were to get out a canvas and paint a picture of the sculpture. Finishing that painting is our homework this week.

What does that have to do with the things we brought in? Well, I think the idea is that our in class assignment is to be taken as a metaphor for what we’re to do with the things we brought. The instructor suggests that it is very easy to bludgeon the viewer when painting emotional content — possibly making it harder for them to understand the intent — and wants us to find a way to disengage from it somewhat when we paint it. When we painted the sculpture made from a painting, we weren’t painting the original painting itself, but something different, something that isn’t obviously recognizable as the original painting, but is clearly based upon it.

The homework this week is to think about the items we selected and figure out ways we might do something similar with them. Not literally, of course, but the idea applies. Find a way to paint something emotional without hammering the viewer over the head with the message.

Based on conversations with other students, though, this is proving to be a challenge for us. I admit I don’t have any good ideas yet, but I have barely had time to think about it, so time will tell.

Design was presentation and critique of our pavilion projects, which I mentioned in the previous post. There were about 20 of us, and I have to admit there were two pavilion ideas that were very striking. And at least to my eye, those were the clear winners for best designs in the class. (Neither was mine, by the way. I had an interesting and different take on it, and I think it went over well, but the best pavilion designs were in a league by themselves.) Once that was done, we were given the next assignment. This one is another challenge. We’re to research the product line of any company we like and figure out a few elements of their design language. Next week, in class, we will create a 3-D form out of hard foam insulation that uses those design elements. The goal is a sculpture that might sit on a boardroom table that indicates something is associated with a brand, but isn’t a copy of a branded item, nor is it the next item in the series of whatever we’ve been researching. We’re thinking more like artists rather than designers in this case.

As with the painting assignment, this one feels a bit problematic, at least to me. I’ve done some research, but haven’t figured out any approaches yet.

Drawing — on Friday — was a different thing entirely. We had a field trip to the Bloedel Conservatory, where we sketched for three hours.

Bloedel Conservatory

This is preparation for an urban sketch documenting the experience of going there. I’ve got pages of inspiration now, and need to get it done by this coming Friday. But first I still have to finish last week’s homework assignment (an interior drawing in two point perspective) which got delayed thanks to the ongoing pile of homework. As of 11 pm last night that’s largely done, but there is still some work to go on it.

Other thoughts.

The conservatory is really nice, and full of exotic birds that aren’t particularly afraid of people. It can get quite loud with their singing and squawking inside that dome, but all that noise is something I actually miss. Back in our previous home we were always surrounded by songbirds. That isn’t the case here in Vancouver. We see herons, crows, and there are a couple of bald eagles nesting nearby. But for songbirds we really only have some blackbirds, and not many of those. Mornings in the Santa Cruz Mountains were a symphony of bird calls. Not so much here. The conservatory may give us an occasional chance to enjoy that kind of cacophony again.

Speaking of birds, we do have a new set of arrivals: migrating snow geese. And we just had a huge flock fly over the house. Amazing, and loud. Add in the bald eagle we saw this morning while walking the dogs and Anne has some birds to admire. It will be interesting to see if the snow geese overwinter here or if they fly farther south. We don’t yet know.

And it is snowing. We had snow on Thursday night, and it’s snowing again now on Saturday morning. Not much either time, but quite pretty. It seems that Vancouver kind of freaks out when it snows, though. Thus far I think the best advice is to avoid driving when it is happening, since there are so many panicked people on the roads. Public transit works, so use it.

I think that’s all this week. I know, not many photos this time around, but there isn’t much that is new to show. There will be more, I promise. I will, however, share this one of Cruzer, who is happily snoozing behind me in the office. He’s an indoor dog. He hates going outside — Hey! Anything could happen out there! — and so a comfy spot near his humans is all he really wants.

Cruzer, Not Entirely Sure Why His Name Was Just Called

The other two aren’t as picky about where they hang out, though Tinkerbelle really likes it outside. It’s finally not hot!




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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