Monday, December 22, 2014

Best of: Expressive Drawing

This class was my hardest to teach of the semester.  It was the first time I taught this exact curriculum although I have taught other advanced drawing classes.  It is the last 'core' class students need to jump into higher level studio classes and as the names suggests it is supposed to expose them to a variety of ways of drawing.  I organized the class units into formal sections like texture or light but then gave lectures on movements and contemporary artists that exemplify these.  I didn't do demos like I constantly do in Drawing I because I didn't want to suggest there was one way to do anything.  I also forced experimentation in process whether it be working from memory or making a collage etc.  Some students really took to the freedom and risk, others shrunk from it terrified.  I am still working out where the sweet spot between those is.  Below are some of the best examples to come out of it.  

Inspired by Vija Celmins and other artists working in a slow and steady build, this is a 12+ hour drawing of a sponge.

Drawing about texture and pattern, Josephine Halvorson was an artist we looked at...

From the unit on value and shape, I set up a really weird still life on the floor with floodlights and students sat campfire style around it and draw.  Then the still life was taken away and they had to make 3 studies that dramatically increase shape and value elements and create a second large drawing.  This is the final drawing.

Another example of the final drawing from value/shape series.

An example of a homework assignment.  This one accompanied the value/shape series in class.  Students had to go out at night and make a drawing that captures value/shape to convey a mood. (this one is of a parking garage)
Another night drawing

This was the unit on space and depth.  We discussed artists like Giotto, Piero Della Francesca, Cezanne, Bonnard, and the cubists (they had come up in earlier discussion and I wanted to make a case against students' sentiments).  The project required students to get multiple images from their own life in photo form as a reference and build a collage that considers spatial depth, altered or realistic by physically having depth by nature of the medium
.  This student went to Magic Gardens in Philadelphia and tried to create a collage that was simultaneously a flat, frontal face and a warped sense of maze like space.

This project was about point of view and memory.  Students went outside and made sketches from odd points of view.  By doing that they were committing to memory the most important aspects.  Then they came into the studio and made ink drawings on body size pages with brushes attached to 3 foot rods, no sketchbooks allowed.  (some were very distraught.  but I loved the outcome of this project, it was a turning point for some)

This is a 'study' from the midterm project.  Students had to choose an ordinary object (this one chose a pie) and make 12 studies that address what we had discussed up to that point -- time, texture, pattern, material, value, shape and space -- to create different types of content,

Then after making the 12 studies they had to make a big final midterm drawing.  (this person's object was a fake tree like my family used to have in the breakfast room)
The last quarter of the class dealt with the figure and color.  A lot of bad drawings were made but a lot of progress too.  This was a first assignment to use pastel in rendering an expressive photo of yourself.  Choose color that adds to the content, not just accurate to the photo and also, no single local color areas.  Something that helped was they did a 'master copy' of a drawing first, I brought in about 20 different options including Munch, Freud, Kirchner,Schiele.  It helped them understand color's expressive ability.

Here's an example of part 1 of the final.  Students had to choose one reference and make two vastly different drawings that convey different things.  Using form to show content.  This student never believed that intentionality in formal choices could mean anything because he always drew from pictures he had taken without intention.  This project he told me changed his mind.  This one was about the moment you stop in the craziness of city life and pause.  The other, which I really wish I had a picture of, was a line drawing of  the intersection from a distance and the frenetic energy of everything being equal and in motion.  

So all in all it was a pretty good semester, I definitely see things I need to change and clarify but it feels good to look back on what was produced in a couple of crazy months.  Sometimes in the middle I feel like everything sucks, but looking back I think it was okay.


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