Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Student Pen & Inks

Drawing by Alice Bugni

Drawing by Peter Kelly
Some random thoughts and a handful of sample images posted by permission of the respective creators (all rights reserved). They follow up on our recent  field-trips "safaris" to the Museum of the North for reference sketches to be used for the pen & ink portion of the class. Also copies are all up in the hallways: hypothetically speaking, might it not be somewhat pretentious for one art teacher to occupy 90% of the art department showcases for the majority of the semester? My humble answer would be no, not if the work in question is the is the best. But seriously, it does bring up a valid point that (my) nature abhors a blank wall, and if you see an empty spot, fill it up with art. The overwhelming ugly number of architectural eyesores in this town, not to mention the depressing interior design aesthetics of many of its residents, could do well with investing in some art. Let that be an abject/object lesson: show up at least, get it up, get it out there.Then do some more, don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't, least of all yourself. If you don't like what you did, do it again, do it better, then do some more after that's done.There's always gonna be somebody better, there's always gonna be somebody worse, but there's never gonna be enough by you. Get over it, get one up on them, get over yourself, get it done.

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang 
except those that sang best.” - Henry Van Dyke 
Drawing by Anne Meehan
More mullings below the fold... 
Drawing by Amara Simmons
As many different students as there are, that's how many different styles we see. Ten variations on the theme, ten different ways of making marks, and an equal number of applications to enjoy them. There are enumerable opportunities to have works like these published and disseminated throughout any given community. Illustrations can accompany otherwise boring articles and appear on anything from a comic to a tshirt, from a computer screen to skin. It can be tight and controlled, or loose and gestural, expressive or descriptive, wonderfully weird or way too cute to contemplate. Sappy, surreal or scientific, there's encouragement and accommodation for any and all. Relative "success" can often run the gauntlet from simple completion, a passing grade, inclusion in a show, sometimes even sales. I'm reminded of a new show of paintings in Anchorage by an comparatively unknown homesteader, William Allen, now enjoying some degree of exposure and popularity, even if it's a bit too late for him personally. Case in point for dedication and discipline regardless of acceptance or understanding.

Drawing by Natasha Pomeroy
Ostensibly the task is to render a form, an object in space, by utilizing textures to give it volume and value through hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and scribbling. Spot-blacks and touches of wash are also used, along with our old friend composition, by the cropping and selective arrangement of the visual elements. On the other hand, art directors often appreciate an image that is open and "floating" as it were, so as to occupy any given space within the confines of a particular page design. Whatever works.

Drawing by Kayla Bishop
Turning in required work, prospective product placement or an homage to a beloved companion, pictures such as these are examples of how many approaches to solving the problem of not just how to draw, but what, and why. Not everybody wants to change the damn world, but sometimes a pretty picture just ain't enough. Settle for either, shoot for both. Like a good movie, I laughed, I cried, I ate too much popcorn and went back to work.

Drawing by Kelsea Wester

Even if unfinished there's still tremendous appeal in such a piece, the sketchy quality of line lends itself to more open-ended interpretation. Or maybe we shouldn't ever depend on a dog to sit still long enough for such a portrait... though there's something to be said for capturing the moment, for however long it lasts. Now enshrined in ink, the resultant documentation will speak for itself, long as there is someone who will look.

Do I, the observer, look at this and immediately shift into critique-mode, and analyze it in accordance with the criteria for the particular assignment? Or do I instead indulge in projection, think instead of the recent news that one of my own cats is actually sixteen years old instead of the immortal ten that I've been assuming for so many years now. The answer, if there ever really is one, is both. In this way the work of others will in turn inspire: the only question is, what will it do for you? *Note: don't ask the cat.

Drawing by Jesse Hensel
Going back to the opening of this post, it's rather obvious as any long-time reader will attest where my bias lies >shakes pom-poms< This point of the semester is more often than not the reaffirmation of everything I try and accomplish on either side of the drawing table or the desk. The same day I get my first ever "Very Poor" rating from the last class' IAS evaluation under "Encouragement Given to Students" was simultaneous with finding out another couple of my students officially changed and/or declared art to be their major. Fortunately, to be "Fair" there's always far more "Excellent" and "Very Good" students: win some, lose some - not all that different from my ratio of artwork either. The best I can aspire for (to paraphrase an editor of mine) is to have fomented some artistic uppittiness, that can and should be translated, incorporated into another class, another semester, next year, the next job, a new home and many more relationships. It gets better, it gets worse... then throughout it all there's this. The song remains the same.

Drawing by Kyle Moehlin

“I had a dream. Crazy dream.Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go” – Plant/Page

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