Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cornell Week 1 Review

I have been busy at work on this week's exercises. Instead of working each exercise through, this week I'm first building all my transfers. Last week I got into trouble by not having clear compositions. There is nothing like a good foundation!

With Marcia's approval, I'll be summarizing our exchanges over the exercises. (Her comments italicized.)

I look at this piece, and think, my, how far you've come!
This pepper is rendered so thoughtfully. Excellent, soft shading. I particularly appreciate the highlights -- that you wisely left space in the piece, rather than feel compelled to keep going, and going. For me, that's an important and sometimes challenging aspect of illustration.
The main event for me is at the top, around the stem. I think that's particularly well rendered.
Something feels just a bit funky about the shadow along the right side, as if it's climbing a bit high, though perhaps this is sitting against a backdrop, which would explain it. Somehow my eye wants to see more at the tabletop level. Always a bit of a challenge, communicating feedback in this fashion, but do you see what I mean?

Great job, so bold!

I really like the suggestion of the bends in the leaves, and especially, how thin you've kept the stems. Your background is blackest black.
This is almost logo-like in quality, that is, it's representational, and could work well as a logo for a plant-based business. I like it.

I don't know why I find this so satisfying, but I do, I do. I find it pleasing to sit and simply look at this assignment. It's instructive, too -- worth displaying prominently.
Lovely experimentation with pencil, particularly with the softness of the effects in the lower blocks.

My only suggestion with this is that you also might want to see how incredible hard you can press on the pencil, to create nearly solid blocks of color. In doing so, what does the blend look like?

My journal:

I made it! Well yes, of course back for another fine course with Cornell, but also that I made it through the week! I somehow put off my work and then realized it was due on Thursday, not Friday. Duh!

So I'm thrilled that I'm all caught up and yet wondering if I had more time could make that pepper look a bit less wonky. I spent hours building form but might have overlooked the entire for the pieces. Whatever, I did enjoy the meditative aspects of building form slowly.

The high contrast piece was great fun and I really like it. Good negative space, repetition, strength. I thought about adding some detail but felt it might lose focus. I first drew it in with a Micron and then brushed in india ink.

I used HP watercolor for both pieces. It's the very first time I try it with graphite and I love it. Good smoothness and seems to respond well to many layers, almost like it's spongy.

I will try pushing harder on my colored pencils and I think that HP watercolor paper may help as well. I'm looking for a smoother finish. Colored pencil, although not my fav medium, allows for interesting layering, reminding me of egg tempera. I particularly like burnishing with white or cream, which seems to add depth as well. I have a set of VeriThins that I'll work with on upcoming exercises.

I've a number of simple graphite drawings and some egg tempera work that I'd like to get into an online gallery. This week I reviewed past work, leaving me assured that this will be an easy setup. Testing a Flash gallery on an iPad failed as expected—no Flash support for iOS devices: iPad and iPhone. An HTML gallery worked fine with iPad.

Next for the gallery will be to uncover and scan drawings and publish a test gallery. I am attracted to simple galleries. No wild colors or backgrounds or music. Ugh! I will go with grays and unassuming fonts, leaving all the space for the art.

I became interested in a dedicated online portfolio when last fall I sold my first and only painting. That got me all fired up but I've not filled in with much salable work. I then took part in an exhibition—good experience but poor showing.

I guess I've been leaning more towards finding my space in art. These days I'm interested in oils and Old Masters in particular. I grind my own oil paints and will soon process linseed oil. Can I join botanical with Old Masters? The Dutch did it well. I'm particularly fond of the work of Melendez and have been copying parts of his paintings.

This course comes at a perfect time. It's a good shakeup as I try out mediums that aren't on my radar at all right now. And, I have to come with design ideas fast. I like that.

As always, your reflective writing is a pleasure to read. You have a way of looking critically -- or perhaps, thoughtfully -- without self denigration. You're rather matter of fact about it in a refreshing way. You also seem optimistic and upbeat in your tenor. I am going to be so eager to learn about the process of preparing your work for sale. I have known of a number of people who have done very well using Have you had any experience with this?

And I want to encourage you to exercise some ownership of and "adult learning maturity" in this course, in terms of what you get out of it. You may interpret the exercises as you wish -- for example, if there is a certain medium that is introduced, and you really are just not all that interested in going further with it, you could take that week to go more deeply into the exploration of Dutch masters and botanical works ( and yes, there are botanical pieces by Dutch masters here at Cornell, in fact. The detail in them is absolutely stunning). It's your course, and your opportunity to go deeply into those areas of interest. We'll all learn in the process! You're definitely exploring new terrain, as far as I'm concerned. (Maybe sometime you'll present a workshop to one of my classes at the university!)


  1. A most interesting post today; not only do we get to see how far you have come but even get a glimpse at where you may be going... presenting a workshop of your own at Cornell? How fabulous! The inclusion of your written interactions with Marcia adds another dimension to understanding your growth process as an artist- a process I hope we all continue to undertake in our own creative lives. Glad the HP watercolor paper is working for you.
    ~ gretchen

  2. Love Marcia's comments, so well written, both broad and focused. Thanks for posting them, it encourages me to consider taking such a class! - Joyce

  3. Yesterday I got a more formal request for that workshop. I've had a few other requests for something similar but need to really get my material down first. Additionally there is my concern of safety and liability with dry pigments. Details...

    Ya Gretchen, HP for me. I love it!

  4. Marcia's great, isn't she? We're always sad when one of her classes come to an end.