Freshman Year -- Drawing 1 Art Dump

June 23, 2014

Pegasus Carousel Horse
Last fall was my first "real" drawing class!

My junior (or was it sophomore? I am going crazy!) year of high school I took art classes from a local artist who taught from her basement, but she focused on giving me some some challenges and then just letting me have at it while she (and occasionally another student) also worked. I found that very helpful-- I had never before worked on artwork in the same room as someone else working passionately on a piece of art. She was very encouraging and helped me tremendously, but it wasn't a traditionally structured class.

(For new readers: I was classically homeschooled from sixth grade and and absolutely loved my education. I am not the least bit sore about not taking any "real" art classes. There simply weren't any available in our town, and homeschooling gave me the freedom and drive to pursue art in my own time and on my own terms. I spent a good deal of time drawing and painting, but even more time learning artisan crafts like the jewelry that I sell in my Shoppe. This opportunity to start my own business doing the things I love was amazing, even more so because my family has basically zero artistic background and yet my parents still supported me.)

I still don't know how I feel about my first drawing class. Structured art classes are an interesting thing. On one hand, being forced to sit and work continuously for three hours twice a week (plus homework), helped me out of pure brute force. By taking Drawing I and 2D design in the same semester, I spent more dedicated time on artwork than I ever had in the past.

Being able to make art for SCHOOL and not feel guilty about working on art before finishing other homework is the coolest thing ever.

Art classes are held in an old brick food factory a twenty-minute bus ride away from campus. The room was oh-so-lovely </sarcasm> and weirdly creativity-inducing in a dilapidated kind of way.



We got to sit at the most uncomfortable wooden art-horse-benches in the world (who the in world came up with the idea of straddling a wide slab of wood while leaning forward to draw on paper which you clamp onto another sheet of wood, which stays still only by magic and lots of muted swearing?). I loved the days when I got to class early and requisitioned an easel and stool. No sore back!


My favorite thing? We were allowed (and encouraged) to wear headphones. I started off just listening to music, but then discovered the joy of audiobooks. It's true that I do have some slight processing issues-- mostly because I'm such a visual person that 90% of my attention goes to what I see and I easily lose track of what I hear. However, I listened to some books that I've read before and the lack of skim-reading and the beautiful narration brought another dimension to the stories.



Drawing I consisted entirely of charcoal still lifes (except for the homework and final) with no pencil underdrawings or anything. By the end of the semester, I felt like screaming:

"I HATE CHARCOAL"

"WHY DID EVERYONE LET ME RIDE THE BUS BACK TO CAMPUS WITH CHARCOAL ON MY FOREHEAD, CHIN, AND NOSE? WHERE IS HERMIONE WHEN YOU NEED HER?"

"WHY THE HECK DOES MY PORTFOLIO CONTAIN ABOUT TWENTY DRAWING OF GOURDS WITH ELEPHANT TRUNKS, SHOES, VASES, AND BOWLING BALLS?"



(Also, don't forget the chairs).






Click "READ MORE" to see the rest of this post!


At first, I desperately wanted to make my own still lifes. But life for an artist looking for a job doesn't consist entirely of making the coolest, most personal art your whole life.

I believe that it is important for an artist to make a distinction between personal work and work work. Personal work is incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable, and you can obsess over it all that you want. Work work can also be fulfilling, but you are (at least in part) catering to someone else's desires, usually with a deadline. Work work needs just as much dedication and attention, but you have to always remember that it is work work. Otherwise, you will drive yourself crazy and feel creatively stifled.


Once I realized that I would not be making any grand masterpieces in that class, I gave myself the freedom to focus on learning everything I could from simply practicing techniques. So I have to draw another anatomically incorrect headless mannequin bust?



Whatever. Let's see if I can focus on perfecting the lighting and making the charcoal blend smoothly. Focus on better contrast.



How much did I actually learn from that class? I'm not sure. The professor was nice enough and gave me some helpful tips. However, she decided to pick me and one other student to be teacher's pet, and that made the class atmosphere a little tense.

I've actually had fellow students tell me that they really want to hate me but I'm too nice for them to do it properly. I can't tell if that's a compliment or some sort of passive aggressive statement, but considering that the people who said it were very friendly and talented themselves I'm taking as a sort of compliment.



One thing that I DON'T miss are the critiques. Every art class I've had with the exception of Drawing II has a weekly or biweekly critique session that lasts an eternity in one second. To quote John Green, some infinities are bigger than others. Art critique infinities are the biggest I know.

Who knows? Maybe once I've graduated and have all those sessions under my belt, I'll actually appreciate what I learned from them. Right now? I'm glad it's summer vacation, as far as critiques are concerned.



This bicycle drawing is my favorite piece from Drawing I! It took a couple of weeks... plus weekends. Unfortunately it looks best close-up. I had some difficulties making it look very cool from a distance. So try pulling the full-size picture up on your moniter if you feel like it. The drawing is quite big like all the pieces from this class. It's 18" x 24" I think.


Here's just a couple more pieces: a really poor self-portrait (I CAN'T DRAW MYSELF) and some sort of taxidermy animal on load from Bass Pro Shops. 

There were many more drawings but for the most part rather boring so I won't bother photographing them all!

Oh, fun fact: This beauty is written above one of the toilets in the art building:





Most of our homework had a weird theme: carousel horses.

Thankfully I really like carousel horses.

I even took my siblings out to a local carousel one weekend I was back home, so I could get some reference photos!





The finals project was to create a super-huge drawing of a carousel-horse hybrid. What did the hybrid have to be? Just about anything. Some of the more interesting ones were a skeleton, a centaur, a flowering vine, and a lamp shade.

I opted for a pegasus.



THIS THING IS HUGE.

(The flash washed out the colors but at least you can see the size).

YES THE WINGS ARE NOT MATHEMATICALLY POSSIBLE. My dad is an engineer and kept pointing it out, but 1) I have no idea how to draw wings to begin with and a huge drawing like this isn't the best start, and 2) the HUGE paper was not huge enough! :)

I did it in chalk pastel (my first chalk pastel work since fourth or fifth grade), and it took ages. I kept having to check out the conference room in my dorm in order to get a table big enough to work at.





Chalk pastel gets EVERYWHERE.


Handy dandy Nupastels, I do love you so.


Finals week for art students is a whiz. Just critiques and picking up graded portfolios. The real terror is the two weeks before finals, when you have to do your finals projects.
I had intended to make this a piece to be hung in my baby sister's part of our parent's room, but it was TOO BIG. Right now it's thrown up on the wall in our TV room (see our awesome projector?).

I'm thinking of taking an X-acto knife an cutting out just the horse and hanging it up in the room that my baby sister and little sister will be sharing in a few months. Part of the wing will have to be cut off but I don't really care. It's not a great masterpiece that I want to preserve for a long time, and I'd like it to be put to use. It's dead creepy in the dark TV room with eerie reflected lights on it at all times.


(Sidenote: Art students don't wear ponches to keep themselves dry during a downpour. They tape their ponchos onto their portfolios to keep their semester's worth of work dry.)

Here's a peek into my sketchbook for Drawing I! Lots of carousel horses, of course!


They were all assignments, so some don't reflect my normal drawing style or subject matter.






























One of the most peaceful pages from this sketchbook was actually one that didn't turn out (the ink I used wound up not being waterproof as I thought it was). I got to my Honors English class early-- I always tried to, as it was my all-time favorite class of the fall semester. My professor was one of the nicest people I've never met and made everyone love her even when she assigned multiple giant research papers.

Anyway, I was camped out at my tiny baby thing of a desk, with my Altoids watercolor box and watercolor crayons, drawing, talking with classmates, and having Starbucks for breakfast. Our campus has this thing where you are required to buy a card for the restaurants on campus, none of which are the best, so I found myself splurging on Starbucks a lot so I wouldn't waste the money! (Of course, I always enjoyed the chai tea lattes, too!).



The above drawing was so much fun that I wrote a quick, rambly post about it over on my Tumblr.

Hello, Steampunk Pennyfarthing Mechanical Carousel Horse. I hereby name youKtesibios after a Greek inventor in Ptolemaic Egypt who is considered the “father of pneumatics.” Sorry I have no idea how to pronounce your name, Ktesibois.  [...] I hereby declare that Ktesibois the Steampunk Carousel Horse with Invisible Pegasus Wings is also a time traveler. He is the Time Lord version of a Middle-Earth Mearas.
(you can read the post here)

Fun fact: carousels were invented as a tool to help young squires and knights practice jousting.

Here's a short video tour of the sketchbook:





My class got to be filmed while drawing out mascot (my drawing was from the back of the Bear) and they stuck the camera over my shoulder for quite a while. It's supposed to be featured in the video for incoming students! :)

Below are the "gallery shots" of some pieces from our class section:



Well, this truly was an art DUMP-- lots of stuff here. I spent WAY too long writing this blog post-- but that's what iced chai tea and a quiet evening is for!

So far I've written a blog post about my other freshman fall art class-- 2D Design. As I keep writing posts about my college art classes, you'll be able to see them under the "college art class" tag {link}.

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