Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh, it's a, uh ...

blind contour, too impatient for just one in 10 minutes.

More exercises. I'm still working through the set of exercises for the first lesson.
What is it? You guess.

When was the last time you did a
blind contour drawing? Take 5 or 10 this weekend, put on some music and have a go at it. Then, drive me crazy by posting your drawing and not telling us what it is, either. Ha! >:)

Everyone's kinda shutting down early today, escaping for the long holiday weekend. Think we'll be puttering around here, staying out of the heat and staying out of the get-away holiday traffic. I have almost a full pan of leftover smoked chicken from last night's design event (from
Zeke's. Never been before, and I got there too late to try the tri-tip, ribs or links, potato salad. But the chicken and garlic bread I snarfed down at midnight were preeeetty tasty). Think we're going to take it easy, have leftover chicken, beer, buttered popcorn and chocolate ice cream, hang out and enjoy the extra day off as much as we can.

Gee. Do I eat like this because I run? Or do I run because I eat like this? [sigh] I'm just not gonna say.

Anyway, whatever your last-weekend-of-the-summer indulgence is, have some, and have a great, safe long weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tape measure

The other day, I was reading about another sketchblogger, bonking her head against her desk. We all seem to set weekly goals for ourselves and then just get stuck. We want to draw, but if we’re going to spend that precious hour drawing, it’d better be a good work. GOOD work. Paralysis sets in. I hate that feeling.

I’m getting back into the swing of things with teaching. My main goal is to have my students feel really comfortable committing their ideas – lots of them - to paper. If they can convey a personal style, it’s great. If they come in with the equivalent of stick-figures, that’s great. As long as they’re getting thoughts down on paper, and starting to feel more and more comfortable just sketching. So, to Karen, I commented that … The process of going from heart and head and hand to paper is more important than the need to create something 'worthwhile' or 'real'. The practice itself is worthwhile…
Certainly at some point you want to create really great work, but it seems to come almost effortlessly when you’re really in a good flow.

So, I had a fitful night sleeping after my first class, thinking of what exercises to do for the second class, to get everyone used to seeing the details of design and manufacturing, and documenting them. I stay awake thinking of front-top-and-side views? Guess so. I’m going to do a demo on geometric forms, then drawing things based off of them. I told them to bring in things that were “mostly rectangular”, or “mostly like a cube”. I rummaged around for something simple, but with interesting features, to prepare a handout for class. I find a mostly boxy tape measure and draw this. In my Moleskine. I sigh; This is all I’ve drawn in a few days, my tape measure. Bleh. I flip through and look and more fun, graceful drawings of gnarly trees. The tape measure shoulda been done on copy paper, it would’ve been easier to photocopy. It’s like this oddity in my sketchbook. I find myself thinking, You know what I really have to do? Get back to freelance work and draw great, graceful products. The Tape measure? Bleh. You know what I really want to do? Paint. Tape measure? Bleh. It’s kinda boring and utilitarian. Bleh.

I’ve also discovered that through LinkedIn, more designers are ambling over to see what’s up on the Fridge Door. OMG! I feel like a hack. And the thought of posting my Tape measure? ‘You call yourself a designer?’ Bleh!

We are all just way too hard on ourselves sometimes.

Okay, so I go back and read Karen’s blog, where she’s commented back (I can't figure out how to get the specific post URL. See August 28). I settle back in and think, yeah, we have to sit still, quiet the voices that tell us, “Better make it a good one!” and just draw, no matter what form it takes. I have to remember, it’s all part of nurturing and strengthening the process; even more critical when it’s part of your profession.

At some point, I latched onto the idea that I wanted to be able to draw for my job. And I do. When you stop and think about it, it’s really great. I get to create reality from dreams and desires, solve discontent. My job is to problem-solve in a creative way, and basically, draw (shrug). How great is that? Duh. So I smacked my forehead (there’s a lot of that going around) and decided to just do away with all this “bleh” business. Here’s the tape measure. Designers are creative, but I want to give my students a good dose of understanding reality, how things are made. Tonight we’re going to look at a bunch of mostly-cube items that the class brings in and start talking from there. We’ll all settle in to draw cubes and spheres, cylinders and cones. The drawing part, no matter what it’s of, should always be a joy; just that feeling of running your hands across smooth clean sheets of paper and running your pencil across it. Tell me, how does it feel to just draw? ‘Bleh’? Hardly.

Okay. Enough time away from it. Get out there, or in there, get a cuppa coffee (or tea) and just do it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day of School

working on my syllabus

I’ve been reading a lot of stories lately about the first day of school – kindergarten and pre-school.

I go back to teach this week. Teaching at two different schools with staggered schedules means that I got one week away from teaching for the summer. Boy, summer vacation went quick. My guy has already been back at it for a few weeks and settling into a new group of students.

On my first day of teaching, a year ago, a student sized me up and said, with eyes that couldn’t hide her doubt, “You haven’t taught this before, have you?” She’s sharp. I said, “No” and commented that the course content would be the same as the other section’s instructor, but I’d have a more fresh, different approach. And I’m an alum, so I have even more empathy with the students. Yet, sure enough though, she and another student transferred sections. The other instructor, well-established, left teaching after that term. Now, there’s no alternate; It’s all me, and I’ve been at it for a year.

My second gig is again teaching a section of a class, where the other section is taught by a veritable legend at not one, but both schools that I teach. Auwe. My class is under-enrolled, and I have to get out there, hustle to get students to fill my roster so the class doesn’t get cancelled. I’ll make the long drive out today to go see S’s class, see if any of them will swap sections into mine. But, what can you say to even younger students, intent on having class with him?
Heck, I’d like to spend some time sitting in on class with him.

I’ve found to relish the good students and that moment that you can see discovery and understanding and trust in their eyes. But right now, the balance still tips the other way. Words cut sharply:
“You’ve never done this before, have you?”
“I still have to finish up my studio work and have to miss your class. Are you going to be doing anything important today?”

I'm still not sure I really am meant to teach.

Either way, remember to be good to the teachers on their first days of school.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Dining room still life, graphite pencil

Wow. One more exercise from the book. I'm going to admit, this was more painful to sit down and do than I would've expected. Just contours? No shading? No shadows? Eeeeeegh!

So I decided to draw more of what's plentiful and on hand and relish doing the shadows and shade. And spots.

arty note: graphite pencil, opaque pan watercolors

We should call this one '#4011', or ...

.... 'Whatever messy art that J doesn't know is going on on his dining table, he just doesn't have to know' ('f ya know what I mean).

Monday, August 20, 2007

New mini wc set

My new (impulse-buy, go figure) watercolor pan kit. Even smaller than the one before (what? No, I'm not an obsessive art gadget geek. No, I'm not).
Still not crazy about how the Moleskine sketchbooks don't take water media too well, but it does what it needs to: be there when the mood to sketch strikes.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Not so random

"What's this? It's ... so ... random."

Whatever you think I might be up to, no, it's not completely random. I started working through the book Drawing from the Mind, Painting from the Heart by Annette Carroll Compton. See a review

house, tree, boat, dog, chair

cat, pencil, bottle, flower, bed

We're using a number of different media, to see which 'feels' the best. I'm going to play with more - graphic markers, graphite pencils, thinner pens. Last semester, I found myself using the word 'play' a lot in class - - I'd tell my beginning design students to 'play' with different media. I don't intend that to imply that any of it or the profession itself is lesser in value or stature, of course (you know me better than that). I'm sure it has a great deal to do with the sheer joy that I feel when I can take a brush, pen or pencil in hand.

Anyway, I was doodling these for, maybe, 10 minutes, tops, and when I stopped, I went,
"Oh. Well, now. This is telling".

I can tell working through the book is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Messy desks

The great thing about having a messy well-accessorized desk is that there's always plenty of things on hand to draw.

I've had the book Drawing from the Mind, Painting from the Heart by Annette Carroll Compton for a while. Like everything, I start, get about 1/3 of the way in and get distracted by something else. I picked it up again and read through the actual preface and intro and am looking forward to doing the exercises. There are 12 chapters, with heart, mind, and mind-heart drawing or watercolor painting exercises.

See a preview of the book here (wow!, I'm amazed at how many pages are included with this preview!).

I'm going to try to do the exercises through the Fall, especially if I'm not able to stick with the strict schedule of taking an actual class (sigh). Anyone want to join me?

I'm also going to be browsing a bit, hunting for sketching excercises, to find better activities to help my students in my class, starting up in a couple of weeks. Where does the summer go? Rapid Viz is a classic I'll be taking another look at. Hopefully this will lead to more sketching and exploration, although Jane reminded me that she's hoping this doesn't mean I'll be drawing just spheres, cubes and cones.
We'll see.

Hope you guys have been doing well and staying cool out there.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Me and That Boy

A high school friend asked me,

at Mammoth, June 2007

... "Still involved with that boy you met?"