Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Other Road Towards a Goal: Another Semester Closer!!

Completion of fall Semester, 2012


Since the last time I wrote, I’ve had a couple of frightening episodes that brings to life the fact that life is short and that we must seize the moment and do as we are intended to do.  That intent is most likely the thing that we think about…something we think we’d enjoy doing…long-hidden desire…the thing that would be nice to do.  Deep down, there is a desire, and that “thing” needs to be explored.

The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron is a book that speaks to this idea, the notion of pursuing a passion.  Cameron advocates that if the idea crosses your mind even once, it’s worth exploring.  We deny ourselves the privilege of exploring those ideas because they are usually non-conventional.  They are beyond the traditional. 

I’m no different.  This is the thing that so often holds me back as well yet the desire never leaves.  It grows stronger and stronger as I experience life’s episodes.  I realize that I must take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and dive head first, without fear, into my desires and let my new career take shape.

I’ve completed three semesters towards my Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in painting.  I’ve decided that my secondary pursuit will be in Illustration so that I can illustrate my daughter’s beautiful poetry as my thesis towards graduation in a few years.  Each semester at AAU has proven to be quite beneficial and productive for me.  I’ve meet several inspiring people with whom I’ve developed great relationships. 

As Cameron mentions in her book, I’ve begun to build my Circle of Influential people.  This circle should include those who inspire us and feed our artistic endeavors not because they tell us what we want to hear but what we need to hear in order to help us grow as artists.  They do not tear us down and crush our artistic dreams.  Of course, we do the same for them. Many of those that I’ve met across the globe are included in that circle.

I’d like to sum up my fall 2012 semester at the Academy of Art University (AAU) by saying this semester proved no different than any other.  I’ve grown as an artist, in skill, knowledge and confidence.  I’m now forcing myself to begin truly working towards the goals I’ve avoided for so long!

FA 602 – Head Drawing

Each semester, I say that a class that I’ve just completed has been the best thing for my artistic career.  But without a doubt, this one has to be among the top of those classes!  I’ve learned so much about drawing the human head.  I cannot really put it into words properly, and going through the class, I notice it wasn’t easy to put it into words.  We had to go through the process, the first seven weeks, in order to appreciate all that we were learning.  By the seventh week, the improvement was so obvious.  For example, take a look at one of my drawings from September 2012 as compared to the same drawing from December 2012, the end of the semester.  Even though I didn’t finish the redo as much as I would’ve liked, it is still much more precise than the first attempt.  Compare them both to the photo of the original bust.

Assignment Two:

December, 2012

September, 2012
Original Bust

Assignment Six:

December, 2012

October, 2012

The first one was done in October, 2012.  The redo was in December, 2012.  It’s almost unfair to show this one since it was original done the week that I had major surgery.  But I can honestly say that, aside from it being unfinished (the October version), nothing else differs from what I would have been capable of at the time it was done.  This one, I do believe, is the best example of a major improvement in skill.  The gesture/character of the pose has been captured almost flawlessly.  This particular lean is something I had never been able to accomplish prior to taking the class.  One major key to capturing the pose is in the diagonals.  Despite the subtle problems that exist in the second one, it is obvious that there is a great deal of improvement.

Assignment Seven:

December, 2012

October, 2012

When this one was originally done, in October, we had almost completed all the lessons.  The problem with it is very subtle.  The mouth is drawn in an almost frontal view while the head is ¾ view, and the angle was slightly off.  The right side should have been a little lower.  In my December redo, I adjusted these areas in the mouth and was amazed at how much closer the likeness was.

Assignment 11:

First Submission
Originally completed in November, 2012, this is one of the three color assignments we did, and my first real attempt at using pastel.  At this time, all areas of structure had been address.  We were asked to render a pastel “painting” applying all that we had learned about structure.  As expected, there weren’t too many major errors in structure; however, the hat grew as I applied pastel!  I knew that would be addressed in the critique, but I didn’t have time to change it prior to submission.  So, in December, I adjusted and resubmitted it at the appropriate time.  I happy I did because it made a world of difference!

Assignment 12:

Charcoal Under Drawing
First Submission


The objective of assignment 12 was to render a pastel painting in a specific color scheme.  I chose blue analogous split complements.  I chose to make a copy of the original charcoal under-drawing because I thought I had captured every part of the lessons that we learned.  I wanted to keep it to remind myself of that fact once I messed it up with the application of pastel.  I’m glad I did because my first attempt at pastel turned out very badly.  My second attempt had to be redrawn in a hurry because I no longer had a copy of the original under drawing.  I can see glaring errors because it was a rush job.  But my application of pastel was a little better.  Since doing this one, I’ve learned a few things about applying pastel.  The darks should’ve been applied first with application of the lights on top.  I’ll try again on my own time.  I’d like to learn to handle the medium much more accurately and skillfully even though it aggravates my asthma.  I take extra special care when using them.  I used gloves and I wear a mask.  I do not blow the artwork to remove dust and I only wipe up the surrounding areas with a wet cloth so that the dust doesn’t fly in the air.  That seems to work for me in avoiding attacks.

Assignment 14: 

Original Photo
December, 2012

This was one of our final assignments.  We used oil paints for this assignment, except we used them to create the look of a pastel piece.  We were told that this is a method created by Degas because he wanted to create a way to simulate the look and glow of pastel but without the need to cover/protect the piece as you would a pastel painting.  In the application of the oil, a small bit of the structure was thrown off.  The far eye became a bit small. 



  1. Amazing improvement! It shows how much impact such intense practice has: best demonstration of how hard work pays! This course really offers you the possibility to learn from mistakes by allowing so much resubmission!

    1. I totally agree! In a creative field, the best way to learn is by looking at your improvements. If we compare ourselves to others, we will never see how far WE'VE come. A close friend once told me to compare myself to myself, exactly as I've done here. Look at yourself in the beginning. Then take a look again at the end. Then and only then can we see that we HAVE actually grown as artists.