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To pay homage to  Alexander McQueen’s final fashion show, I have decided to recreate the graduate critique in a Gothic fashion.

As Laura pointed out in her lecture, make-up is everything in Goth culture. It essentially masks who you are, or what you do not like about yourself and can somewhat transform you into something else; whether that is more beautiful, a different gender, different race, ect. Therefore, I had to reach out of my comfort zone and into a strange make-up bag. I never apply or wear make-up, so I was a little nervous that I would not get able to pull off the “Goth Look”.  However, I quickly realized that Goth’s master their signature look due to never mastering to how properly apply make-up, and my worries were washed away by copious amounts of eye shadow.

The dog was giving me weird looks, people would look, but not smile at me in Fred Meyer, and some lady in the art building asked me what kind of bully would give me TWO black eyes. However you look at it, this rainbow child was feeling dark and goth.

So, then came time for the fashion critique. I kept doing the ungoth thing by giggling and smiling in front of the camera. Goth culture is so dark and silly at the same time, it was hard for me to take it seriously without cracking before the shutter closed. I enlisted the help of a fellow, more fashionable, grad student than myself.

I wanted dramatic lighting, weird scenarios, and an overall dark feel to the photos.

Kate and Mr. Bones were great models. Probably more sassy, dark, and serious than I will ever be. The theme of our shoot was definitely bones and black. We both had bone jewelry, hair accessories, clothing and props. We obviously decked ourselves in nothing but black clothing and make-up. Overall the shoot was a lot of fun, but after this experience I have come to realize that I am just too cheery and colorful to ever pass as a Goth.

The drawings represented were made by Heidi Morel, Adam Ottavi, and Tatiana Piatanova. The real graduate critique was very constructive and informative. Everyone involved got fabulous feedback. In academia, you have to remember that a critique is not a scary or dark place(unlike the Goth world). It is a safe place to be honest, open, constructive, and of course, critical, hence the word critique. In so many ways, critiques help you become a better artist, and even a stronger person. I look forward to the upcoming critiques this week to see who has pushed their boundaries, comfort zones, and ideas into unimaginable levels.


I was inspired by the small handmade comic books that Jamie Smith brought in for our class.  I love these little books because they tend to have more character and quirks.  So at this point I decided that I wanted to make my own little comic book. I wanted it to be narrative and reflect my view of the world as a child. 

I chose the time I went to New York City and rode the subway for the first time when I was about nine years old.  It was terrifying because it was the first time I had been surrounded by that many people.  I decided to make the narrative in my comic book flash back and forth between what actually happened and what I remember happening.  For example, one frame will be of my father guiding me down the street of large buildings and crowded streets.  I was afraid of these large buildings; I remember them towering over me as if they were going to haunt me forever.  I remember the people being exotic and frightening like monsters. 

For this project I’ve been referencing comic books lent to me by Erin Henderson: Chosen by Mark Miller and Peter Gross and Slow Storm by Danica Novgordoff. 


To begin, I treated a sheet of BFK Rieves light weight paper with layers of waterproof ink, water, and white acrylic.  I treated both sides, to prevent the paper from curling, and because I was going to fold the paper into pages of a book.  Once the paper dried I tore my paper into three sections which I then folded in half to make the pages of my comic book.  On each page that will contain a frame, I drew a box with ink. 

These are the supplies I used to do my paper treatement.


I tore the paper into three sections and then folded them half to create the pages. Next, I made the cover for my comic book which is a combination of illustration board, lots of modge podge, more treated paper, and gray computer paper. The illustration board is used for the hard cover and computer paper was used for the border and to bind the illustration boards together at the spine. I used another sheet of treated BFK Rieves light weight paper for the inside and outside of the book cover. Once I am done with my drawings on the pages I will use thread to bind the pages to the spine. For the cover of my comic book, I used illustration board and tons of modge podge and covered it with more treated paper. The cover for my comic book.


page 1

page 2

page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8


Page 9

Paper: 26×40 inch BFK Rieves light weight, illustration board, computer paper 

Media: salt treatment, waterproof ink, non waterproof ink, ink washes, and pen with ink 


Jamie Smith, creator of the cartoon “Nuggets,” came into our class on Tuesday and gave us a brief lecture on cartoons and comics.  It was interesting to look at all the different styles and techniques used in creating successful illustrations.

He brought in a nice variety of comic books for the class to enjoy.

The last half of class was focused on linear perspective.  Laura did a brief overview on one and two point perspective and then we worked from the still life.  Using our imagination and what we just learned from Jamie, we transformed our drawing into a cartoon/comic.  Using a favorite phrase or lyrics to a song, students divided their drawing into panels and then altered their drawings to reflect their phrase. Fun and challenging.

**Our out of class assignment this week is to create our own comic/cartoon drawing and to make sure we include linear perspective.**

As we do every Thursday, we broke into groups to discuss our ideas for the biomech, geek, sci-fi , and post-apocalyptic out of class project. Laura then gave us a quick lecture on where we could get good supplies like the awesome pastel card we were given a taste of last class. Unfortunately living in Fairbanks, AK means that it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to find good art supplies locally for reasonable prices, so online shopping is often a must.

The still-life from last time was still set up, so many of us continued work on the in-class assignment from last time.

Some students began work on their out of class projects.

We walked into a dimly lit room with a large still life set up on the center table.

Adam and Laura gave a presentation on Geek, Science, Sci-fi, Biomechanical and Post Apocalyptic subcultures and art. The lecture covered everything from DNA paintings and math robots to genetically modified rabbits.Geek Art - Artist unknown

Here Laura demonstrates working with pastels on 7-layer pastel board. She gave advice and showed various techniques for working with the roughly textured paper.

Black and white are not entire range of grays are needed to give depth to a piece. We saw that some grays are blue toned while others contain orangy red tones. We were instructed to use a full grayscale in our work. Once we all found a portion of the still life to draw, everyone got to work. It seems that the 7-layer pastel card was well received. The rough texture could handle so many layers of chalk or ink that it created a feeling of freedom as you could simply rub out mistakes or draw over them.

The following images show student works in progress. While most students chose to work with charcoal and pastels, a few used ink. The variety of style, composition, technique, focal points and creativity contibuted to the array of work shown. Such diversity is always so inspiring. It is hard to believe that everyone heard the same lecture, used generally the same materials, worked from the same still life, yet came up with such individual outcomes. While the images below are works in progress, you can already see a full range of value, strong compositions and interesting use of line and form.

The class started with a lecture/demo from Laura. She always has very interesting and unconventional tricks up her sleeve.

Laura is showing us how to create an additional texture to complement drawing with a white school glue.

What kind of marks you make on paper to create your reality is the most important thing in drawing. The more you have in your vocabulary, the more eloquent you are…

Different background treatments, cutting through paper, using glue as texture -- you name it, she showed it!

The main idea of this particular class was to practice different gestural styles of drawing an object. So, we all had a little cheat-sheet passed around before we started to do our “serious” exercises.

This is our cheat-sheet with the variety of mark-making we were exploring in class.

The objective was to draw a part of a still life keeping in mind composition, value, proportions and all other rules of successful picture-making and using a variety of mark-making from the “cheat-sheet.”

still life

These are the choices our still life had to offer as seen from a bird eye view (or 6 feet standing on a chair).

Before we proceeded, we all got an inspirational art-waving from Laura who was trying to inspire and warm us up for an upcoming creative burst.

flying laura

This is what I saw from my view-point:

I was frantically searching for a few items of still life that would excite me to put them down on paper, hence the fuzziness.

When I finally found my items I did a couple of preliminary gestural sketches in opposite styles:

Very loose charcoal rendition based on outlining and then filling in values.

Using nothing but a thin line as means of drawing really makes you pay attention to relationships between the objects rather than values that each has.

For our final in-class drawing, we were suppose to use either graffiti or tribal art style of execution or at least incorporate elements pertaining to those sub-culture genres. I picked my victim (or object of my affection) from the still life:

I really liked this guy. Besides, he had many intricate elements making up his body that landed themselves to be depicted on paper in graffiti style.

I noticed how this assignment completely threw me out of my comfort zone. I am so used to drawing/doodling without paying any attention to the elements or style that make up the drawing that i found myself drawing more slowly and cautiously, contemplating before almost every mark made. Unfortunately I got so into it that i forgot to take a picture of my own drawing at the end. However, here are few from my classmates:

Laura demonstrated a few paper treatments during our first class on January 21.   First, watercolor paper was coated in gray ink wash then salt crystals (rock, sea, table, kosher) were thrown onto the paper to extract the ink and create organic-looking formations.  Secondly, lace was held above a sheet of watercolor paper while ink was sprayed from a bottle through the lace, to replicate the pattern.   Laura also demonstrated ink and sponge techniques to provide surface variance.   Lastly, crushed color pastel was applied with a sponge  to another sheet of paper for a similar surface effect (a brush could be used as well).  Each method can be used to start a drawing, as a way of letting the treatment influence the content, style, and creative process.

Over the past few months I’ve found the research portion of each assignment for this class to be completely edifying – for both personal knowledge as well as to inform personal artwork.   I came across the following image earlier this winter: an antiquated photograph showcasing the tribal scarification of an African woman.   The date and photographer are unknown.   The picture simply fascinated me.

Online research led me to the work of Helen Coleman and, separately, anthropologist Arnold Rubin and his book Marks of Civilization: Artistic Transformations of the Human Body (UCLA Press, 1988).   I have a copy of the book on it’s way to Fairbanks through inter-library loan.   Until then, check out this link for more information and images.

I decided to base my first out of class drawing on this photograph and the idea of African scarification.   I started with a heavy 18×24 inch piece of Strathmore watercolor paper and saturated it with gray ink wash.   Kosher salt crystals were used to extract ink from various spots around the edges.   I used a grid system and a thin piece of charcoal to enlarge and replicate the photo onto the paper, then masked the perimeter of the sketch, reapplied ink wash and placed large rock salt crystals where each scar appeared in the original photograph.

Drawing from photographs is limiting, so I grabbed an ornate frame I had lying around my cabin and, using gestural methods, created a frame within the papers perimeters to encase the scarred figure.   I thought this was interesting in the end, but the drawing still needs a bit of refinement, a bit of white, and certainly more gray values. Additionally, the second salt extraction method, used to emphasize the scarification, needs more work too.  What else is next?  For the final drawing I plan on adding African alligator imagery to the frame design (to emulate scarification and to relate it both geographically and naturally to the figure).   The final drawing will be completed with mostly ink as well.

Time:  3.5 hours.   Paper:  22×30 inch Strathmore watercolor paper.   Media:  charcoal, salt treatment, ink wash.  Actuals:  ornate frame & photograph of woman with African tribal scarification.