Monday, January 14, 2008

Week Seventeen January 11, 2008

Art Centre - Week Seventeen - January 7-11, 2008

Back to school after the holidays, I'm grateful to have had that time to get well. Only a few more classes in each subject before the "moratorium" where regular activities are suspended and students seek advisement and study for final exams. Happily of the three courses that are ending now, none are going to have exams. In Sculpting and in Art History, our various projects act as exams and in figure drawing, our portfolio submission will do.

Monday - Printmaking.
The focus for the next few classes is on screen printing and on etching. I've prepared two small screens and in class my images on transparency acetate went under a special lamp to burn images into the emulsion painted on the screen. The timing is critical - thirty minutes. The screen is then washed in cold water until the "burned" emulsion washes away. After drying the framed screen, the screen is taped with duck (duct?) tape so that the water based ink will only go through where the image is burned on the screen. I also selected one of a half dozen sketches I'd done to transfer onto a metal plate that had been painted with ground. When not screen printing, I'll be working to scratch this image onto the plate.

Tuesday - Painting. We were asked to bring photos to class to select one to paint from. Our teacher talked to us about the importance of the photo being one we personally have taken and that we find a way to take the photo to a new level, beyond what is there in the photograph. I put together a small album of the best (or favourite) photo from the dozen small albums I submitted when interviewed as an applicant for art school. I did thumbnail sketches of several of these photos brought to class.

I was relieved when the teacher decided that the one photo I should go with happens to be my very favourite of all of the photos. It is one I took on one of my trips to Barbados. I was walking about in Bridgetown on one of the back streets in the shopping district when I happened upon a woman who was measuring out what appear to be aki. She was putting a certain number of the small red orbs in plastic bags to sell later. The bright red of her dress seemed to be a perfect counterpoint to the old fashioned oval Coca-Cola sign on the bright blue wall behind her.

Anyone who sees the photo agrees with me that it is a wonderful shot. I've imagined entering it in a contest for Island magazine. I began sketching it onto my canvas. The first challenge is that the dimensions of the photo are not at the same ratio as that of my canvas. I'm having to made certain modifications from the start to get the image to make as much of an impact with some aspects altered. Only two more classes left to work on this.

Tuesday - Sculpting and Printmaking Studios. I spent an hour hammering on my medal - that's about as much as I can tolerate at a time. Slipped down to the printmaking studio and taped my two screens to be ready for printing next week. I also gathered up my prints from the block printing done before the holidays to take home. Another hour of hammering and I felt as if I had made precious little progress on getting the lumps off the edges of my medal.

Wednesday - This is my day off and I had a massage, applied to have my passport renewed, had meetings at the university regarding future teaching contracts, and did my laundry.

Thursday - Art History. Our last big project was due today. We had two choices both to do with controversial art works. I chose to research the legal dramas to do with Robert Mapplethorpe's photography. There were three cases related to his work and all have been noteworthy in the ongoing dilemma regarding decisions about what is obscene and what is art. I had spent great deal of time researching and preparing the presentation package which included a copy of the handout (4 pages) and three appendices one of which was a first hand account of attending The Perfect Moment, one of the exhibits of Mapplethorpe's work.

My classmate E. kindly consented to write up his memories of that exhibit and it added a special dimension to the project to be able to include it. Other presentations included a case concerning an image of Brooke Shields as a young girl, a Virgin Mary that incorporated the medium of elephant dung and was challenged by none other than "Rudy" Giuliani. I was surprised that on one presented on the recent uproar caused at the Royal Ontario Museum when a hoax bomb canceled a special celebration there. At the end of class it was announced that there would be no more art history classes and no exam - we were all jubilant to say the least.

Thursday – Sculpting. Hooray. The teacher had mercy on me and took my medal to the grinder to take down those dreadful bumps I’ve been hammering on for hours. We had a demonstration of applying the wax sealer coat to the plaster carving. My carving still needs more sanding with very fine sandpaper before I can do this so I continued to work on my medal and I was also able to lend a hand to a classmate who was building a form for the mold for his medal.

Friday - Figure Drawing. The first part of the class was devoted to assembling the required drawings (gesture, 20 minute, 1 hour, etc.) for our final portfolio submission. After the break, we selected some of our favourite drawings and put them up on the wall to discuss. We heard some wonderful stories from our teacher related to the drawings. It was great to have a chance to talk together. I'm really going to miss this class - especially this very upbeat, supportive and caring teacher! I hope we'll have her for another course next year. Thus endeth the first week back at art school.

A few were missing in action due to that dreadful cold/virus that continues to make the rounds. I'm hoping and praying that it does not find me again. And one of our group currently in Korea wrote to say that he's broken his leg and won't be able to join us again as soon as we'd hoped. In Drawing class we tried to calculate just who would be back for the next term and at one point we counted only ten of us. Someone had the very bright idea of our calling ourselves the "Central Ten of Central Tech". Nice ring to it - something like the Group of Seven? We are really getting closer through this experience and have hopes that we won't be separated next year when the three groups become two.

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