I started this blog to mainly do one thing: dump my art school education online for free.* (I saved you all tens of thousands of dollars. You’re welcome.) Also, I tried to serve as a translator for the real world to have a portal to the academic art world, but doing so in plain English, hitting some of the more interesting parts of theory or art history while avoiding any snootiness.
I looked to particularly post practical things that non-art people would not know offhand, like the difference between acrylic paint and oil paint. I added art media tips, digital resources and troubleshooting tips like getting oil paint off a dog. I’m kind of surprised how many people have needed to Google that last one.
Well, after 1,287 posts I am crazy bored of my own blog. Really, crazy bored. I never went for junk blogging: like ranking something via numbers articles, re-blogging other people’s content for quotas or teaser click-bait posts. It’s not too late, I can still write “CLICK HERE to Learn the Top 5 Reasons to Not Recycle Posts From Other Blogs!”… but I won’t.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes I’ve experimented with an animation program and have been doing cartoons and short form comics the past year when I found the time. The cartoons and comic art was mostly autobiographical and local Chicago stuff which I have circulated as physical media, and I’m talking photocopied zines; because that is exactly how you get wide circulation in the 21st Century digital world. The only thing more useless is large scale paintings that no one wants to buy and are hard to store in an urban apartment.
I am now adding a Cartoons & Comics category to this blog. This is what fine art programs tell you is garbage and anathema but what is most accessible to the general public –and probably the most appreciated art form. Basically, if it is fun and people like it, the academic fine art world will denigrate it as rubbish by calling it illustration, fan art, commercial art and a number of other things that indicate it is trash and not “art.” The fine art world can be really cerebral but also a real drag. They are cranky because of decades of economic distress.
Around 85 – 95% of Chicago’s smaller or entry level art galleries have gone under since 2008 and Chicago’s largest art show died in 2013. William Conger wrote an article about how art schools are self-perpetuating –that art schools just turn out students and some go on to work at art schools– and that it is impossible to have a fine art career anymore; then Judy Chicago went and wrote a whole book about the same subject. When it comes to the business aspect of the real world, art school teaches outdated information about having an “art career” that has no basis in reality. All the rap about “being serious” and doing things “right” to be a “real artist” is claptrap. The college I graduated from was repeating pedagogy from before I was born like a broken record, steps on a path that washed away and is a memory now. Lack of success which falls in the “paying your dues” mythos thus putting blame on graduates and not the school. Art school is people whose income comes from teaching ironically teaching you how to sell art in a way that would not even work for them. The things they added to the traditional “art career” pedagogy regarding social media and the internet for self-promotion is laughable.
Case in point: the last gallery show I had paintings in, about seven people came and they were all relatives of or dating the artists. No one bought anything. That gallery went under afterward.
The moral of the story is: never go to art school. They don’t teach any secrets and do not confer any kind of beneficial pedigree. There is plenty of informative books that you can read for free or cheap. You will find far more information online than will be taught in any degree program.
I have had all sorts of an art career but not a dime in profit from making art. I think you can make art or you can make an art career. I’m just going to wander off into the social media world and have fun. Check back for some cartoons or comics as they appear.
*Any ads you come across on this WordPress are being inserted by your Mac, Apple device, internet service provider, browser, etc. I still have zero ads or monetization on this blog. When I made this blog to be free, I meant it.
I have a hockey team, but we don’t really have a name. We just have an NHL team name that was slapped on us by the rink so we know when the heck to show up for games. There are probably about a million variations of the Chicago Blackhawks logo for rec league teams. This is the one I had stuck in my head, so I sat down today to get it out.
One advantage is that being a vector design will make it super easy to vinyl cut the logo and iron it on a jersey. It’s a high contrast design so it would also be easy to silkscreen. What makes it harder is that rink stuck us with bright gold jerseys. Unless we can think of a color that was not assigned to a team in the league, we will be carrying on the summer season in gaudy gold.
Today, I went to the Art Institute museum and did some caffeinated café sketching. (MMM hazelnut coffee. I rarely drink coffee and it seems really strong!) I decided the revisit the baby oil blending technique for colored pencils with a less cartoony piece of art. The blending works really nice with skin tones. I learned if only a spare amount of baby oil (mineral oil) is used, added colored pencil layers or lines laid over the blended layer do not blur or bleed. I used the same cold press type 130# heavy weight paper and this is an artist trading card size artwork (2.5 x 3.5 inches) the same as the prior blog post with the Manga girl cartoons.
Overall, I am still tremendously enjoying the new technique. I have had little to no problem with the baby oil bleeding through the paper since I used a heavy paper and a very tiny amount of the baby oil. Using cotton swabs and a small, round paintbrush to blend the colors is continuing to work well. I added a new step for control and blot the cotton swab on a paper towel to lower the amount of baby oil on the tip if I feel it may be too wet. Now I’m wondering what other art mediums there are where baby oil works as a solvent…
I have heard about blending colored pencils with baby oil and was skeptical to try it. I have used my share of colorless blending pencils and blending markers in the past. The markers cost a lot and get stained pretty quickly. You always have to wipe the nib on scrap paper to remove colors to go on to blend different areas of color and this burns through your marker quickly. The fabulous surprise was how much better baby oil performs for blending! It is dirt cheap and smells pleasant. I tested the process of many brands of pencils below.
I made sure to buy baby oil that was 100% mineral oil. I got a brand that had the perfume scent since the drug store near me did not have any unscented kinds for sale. Avoid other additives like aloe vera; it is the mineral oil melting the wax content in the colored pencils that makes the process work. Mineral oil is a petrochemical, so I am thinking an organic component like aloe vera would lend itself to mold or decay.
I did some Manga style cartoon portrait drawings with colored pencils. I will crop these drawings to artist trading card size later. The one above used waterproof inks for the outline: Sakura Pigma Micron pens and a Pentel Manga brush pen. This artwork has Berol Prismacolor, Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Magic, Koh-I-Noor Dry Marker Flourescent, and Rose Art Metallic brands of colored pencils. The Rose Art Metallic set is very bright; the silver looks very good. The paper I used was pretty rough, 130# Nature Sketch; it has a definite tooth similar to a cold pressed variety of watercolor paper or maybe a pastel paper.
BOOM! Here is the blended version. I think it “pops”, the colors look bolder and the art has a nice painterly effect. I used a fine synthetic paint brush and Q-tips dipped in tiny amounts of baby oil. The Q-tip cotton swabs were very nice to rub on the paper and smoothed the color out well. Interestingly, the baby oil makes the color melt down into the paper nicely. All of the blending I had done with the dry pencils was prone to stay in place. The baby oil process felt similar to using very thinned oil paints but not wildly wet like fluid inks or watercolor. The smallest amount of baby oil melts and blends the colored pencil on contact. The control was very nice. I also used a white Sakura Gellyroll pen for the reflections in the eyes, which is a nice trick.
This was my first try with the baby oil process. Most of the above art was Crayola colored pencils, a little Berol Prismacolor was used on the skin tones and the ink was Pentel Manga brush pen. I wish I had learned about this process before now; it was an interesting way to compensate for the white showing through on a toothy paper. Definitely try it out, blending colored pencils with baby oil was fun and really easy.
Adding another drawing 2/13/2015!
I am trying to get back to blogging and the usual arty things after a death in the family. My grandmother went from diagnosis to death in six weeks from cancer and my family is very sad. The day she died, I suddenly remembered video footage I had shot of a family dinner years ago; the only footage I have of my grandmother. I sat crying all day and pulled together a edit of the footage.
There are a lot of technical problems with how badly I shot the footage. I’ve learned a lot since having a video camera was a new thing, and now the only recorded video I have of her is precious no matter how poor the quality. I guess younger people, growing up in a digitally saturated environment, will have hours upon hours of video footage and recordings made of their lives by enthusiastic parents, their peers and themselves. If you have elders in your family, remember to make videos of them as well. This may be the only video footage anyone has recorded of my grandmother. Interview your elders,involve them in a video project, get your video camera or smartphone out and make recordings before illness and death come. Photographs are wonderful and valuable, yet video gives you the voice and movements of the person; video gives you a piece of time back from the person you lost.
I went on a guided hiking trip with Skokie Park District and took some nature photos this weekend! We traveled to the Jasper-Pulaski Nature Reserve in Indiana for the sandhill crane migration. The nature preserve is in a really rural area. And there is no cellular coverage there, either.
I only had a 300 mm lens on a Nikon DSLR and was looking at envy with anyone that had a 600 mm or larger lens. It turns out that sandhill cranes are sensitive to being disturbed and the nature preserve has the viewing area is well back from the feeding and roosting areas. Binoculars were really helpful for viewing; photography was difficult. At least I have some images that will be okay as visual references for drawing or painting. Also, the weekend had a big surprise; so that will be the last photo!
I came up with a new method for collage or at least a variation on the process which I published here. The intended audience is people within the hacker/maker community and are more likely to have access to laser cutting technology.
If you are enrolled at a college or university and you are not learning how to use current tech in laser cutting and 3-D printing, see if there is an available hackerspace / makerspace in your area. Laser cutting and 3-D equipment was on the campus I graduated from in 2010, in one department and locked behind closed doors, the private playthings of the professors. Students did not even know this equipment existed on campus. Demand education and access to this technology if your campus is missing it or is restricting access to the equipment. Robotics, rap rep [rapid reproduction] and being able to prototype creations on your own are current technologies that a wide range of creative and technical fields are using now. For me, becoming proficient with a laser cutter has opened new doors creatively, has been interesting and a lot of fun.