Art School, Weeks 2 & 3

Hello All. I’ve been quite busy over the last week, but I’m caught up, for the moment. (It’s Saturday morning now, and the homework for next week stretches out before me, alas.) Also, I fear my entire ceramics class is a week behind (which is the instructor’s problem, not mine, at least until she changes the schedule and it bites us all, hard) and I know there are some killer assignments coming in the not too distant future. There’s a short paper in Art History as well, and the painting instructor just added a new homework assignment that wasn’t on the syllabus, so things are… complex.

But let’s review, in course order: In Ceramics (Tuesday mornings), I have a coil built pot ready to be covered in some combination of white & black slip:

It’s nearly 12 inches tall, and while I’d planned on a smoother texture and originally intended a smooth (not fluted) top, I am happy with it. I have no idea if it will survive the kiln or not, of course.

In Art History (Wednesday mornings) I have two possible topics for the paper I have to write. One is this sculpture in Richmond:

It’s a lovely stainless steel water droplet, or so says the artist. The other is a famous Monet I saw last weekend at the Vancouver Art Gallery. But with my interest in sculpture I prefer to write a formal description of the sculpture for the paper.

That said the paper comes in two parts, and the formal description is the easy part. The rest involves putting the artwork in context, somehow. The artist is Chinese and this is one of two sculptures installed in the west by him in 2009. They also appear to be the only things he’s installed in the west so far, and he’s young enough that I can’t find anything written about him in particular except the documentation that goes with the Vancouver Bienalle 2009–2011. I will be talking with the instructor shortly about the task at hand, and see what she has to suggest. [Addendum: I talked with my instructor, and I have lots of options for how to write about the work for part two. She was even interested in the fact that I’d done research already and come up empty handed, and I could simply write that up. So I think I’ll use the sculpture as the subject of my paper, and see how it goes.]

Painting class (Wednesday afternoons) seems to be going well. I am a bit hesitant to include photos of my work here, but what the heck. Overall we paint one or more quick things in class, and we have homework assignments as well. The first homework was a monochrome interior. Here’s mine:

There are so many issues with that painting… argh.

Some of you probably know I do not consider myself a painter. In fact. two and a half years of painting classes some decades ago left me done with the medium. But at least one painting class is required by the program here at Langara, and there has been a lot of water under the bridge. It’s a good idea that I try it again and keep an open mind.

Here’s the other painting homework I am willing to share:

Yes, that is a self portrait, supposedly. We were told to paint them with just two or three colours and white, and I chose blue & yellow. It makes me look way too much like Steve Jobs, but whatever. We actually had to paint two self portraits. The other was to be something more fun, but I hate the results. I will gesso it over sooner rather than later, I think. We have turned in these paintings but I have no clue how things are being graded, so I might have an A for participation and effort, or I might have an F because I stink. I need to ask the instructor about that someday. Also, for the curious, we’re painting with acrylics. Apparently there isn’t enough ventilation in the painting room to let us use oils. Not sure how (or if) the advanced painting classes solve that. Maybe they only use acrylics too.

Design (Thursday mornings) is going well. I have nothing back with a grade yet but given my interactions with the instructor so far, I think all is fine. We’ve turned in two drawings: a set of orthogonal views of a particular object, and a paraline drawing of the same object. Now we’re designing our own object that we will construct out of cardboard and hot glue (I think). I’ve got my design done, and we start construction next week.

And finally there is drawing on Friday mornings. In that class I have 2 assignments graded and have received perfect marks on both, though I honestly am not sure why. The first was a still life, and we had two versions of it. Here’s the better (in my opinion) of the two:

Sorry about the lousy photo. Need to fix that. The second assignment was a series of contour drawings of a houseplant. I don’t have that photographed yet, but my drawings of that weren’t all that great either. And yet, as I say, I got a perfect score again. Today saw us start life drawing (with some excellent instruction on how to actually do that) and our next homework assignment is a diptych of a ginger root drawn in cross contour. That might allow for more visual interest than the fruit and cup still life above, though cross contour isn’t a great thing for artistic expression, in my opinion, unless you’re creating covers for science fiction novels.

This weekend I have the following homework to do:

  • Ceramics: none. I am as caught up as I can be at this point.
  • Art History: read chapter three of the book (on different media) and start writing the paper.
  • Painting: paint “something from life” using three mixed colours, white, and a chromatic black. This assignment is to get us to mix three interesting colours from the selection of paints we were given, rather that the subject matter itself.
  • Design: quickly recheck my object design so it is ready to turn in on Thursday.
  • Drawing: ginger root diptych. I’ve bought the ginger root, at least.

And in addition to that I have a few things I have to do on Monday that have nothing to do with school. And local friends want to get together. And the A/V receiver we have just died a horrible death, so it needs replacing. And if there is time I should mow, again. And there is always laundry to do. And the dogs need regular walking. And and and. Yeah. No shortage of things to keep me busy.

Final notes:

  • While writing this I forced Chrome to use a Canadian-English dictionary for spell check, rather than the US-English one. I need to get used to those spellings. For those following along from the states: sorry.
  • The weather here is lovely: cool with occasional light rain. Very nice. The late summer heat is one thing about the bay area that I don’t miss.
  • I wish you all well. Feel free to email me with updates on your life. School has kept me off Facebook most days, so if there are interesting things going on with you that you’ve shared there, I’ve probably missed them. Again, my apologies.

Originally published at on November 3, 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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