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Tag Archives: sub genre

We finished critique tonight with Gail, Kelly, Elbot and Jessica Pena.  All four students had excellent life-sized self portraits and sub-genre of choice drawings.  It’s really a treat to see each student’s unique take on these assignments.  I would like to give specific attention to Gail’s fabulous genre of choice – breast feeding – AND her resulting genre of choice drawing.  The color work, perspective, concept, and execution are exquisite.

Gail's sub genre of choice drawing

Laura also gave the class a demonstration on Xerox lithography, a process she employs often in her ceramic work.  Xerox lithography, or the Xerox transfer process, involves using gum arabic, water, and lithography ink to transfer a Xeroxed image onto cold-pressed watercolor paper. The process uses a traditional print-making press and brayers. It took most students a few tries before successfully transferring his/her images. Stark b/w Xerox images work best (as in high contrast and few mid-tones). Text and black/white designs transfer quite well also.  Some students achieved excellent results!  Check out next week’s blog for more info, or click here for the Print & Clay website and instructions.


On Tuesday night we had a critique of our two assigned color drawings:  a ‘sub-genre of choice’ drawing and a life-sized self-portrait made with anime and/or fantasy in mind.

I had a hard time with both assignments for a couple of reasons.  First, I am not overly proficient with color pastels or color media in general.  To solve this problem, and upon the advice of Laura, I spent half a months rent on super deluxe pastels (Diane Townsend and UNISON) as well as nice watercolors and multiple sheets of expensive and WONDERFUL pastel card.  It’s amazing just how big of a difference quality products make when dealing with color – and specifically color pastel.   I still remember trying to blend oil pastels into cheap paper just a few years ago. What a pain.  And what a waste.  If you’re out there reading, PLEASE do yourself a favor and splurge on superior color pastels. They are handmade and will enable you to fully appreciate COLOR among many other things.

Another problem I had while working on these two color assignments was, if you can believe it, indecisiveness in choosing a ‘sub genre of choice.’  I switched my subgenre from METAL to ELIZABETHAN to PORTRAITURE all in the course of a week and a half. Sheesh. What was my problem?  I am usually the most decisive person in the room. Well, when Laura’s not around…

So I was all over the place (in my head).  And then I received some disappointing personal news.  At that point I was not only unsure of my sub-genre of choice but I was also angry, sad, and completely blind-sided by the news.  What’s a guy to do?   Refusing creative block, I returned to my roots and worked on two simple portraits of my muse Andrew.  The first drawing came out well but then I ruined it by spraying bleach on the surface (to provide some kind of paper treatment).  I had no choice but to start over…

The second time around, I used as much pastel as I could.  It felt excessive, rich, luscious, and totally artful.  I rubbed each beautiful, rich stroke vigorously with my fingers and palms. The pastel card just lapped it up.  It was simple and yet thrilling.   I kept color theory in mind while dealing with actual color versus the pastel I was laying down.   Red then green, yellow then violet, blue then orange.

The second portrait of Andrew incorporated Elizabethan and Portraiture as my sub-genres of choice.  I turned Andrew from a prince with an exaggerated ruff, into a Greek god, and finally into a rather genderless jester all on one piece of borrowed pastel card (thanks to Jess Pena). Although each drawing below is finished, I consider them exercises in color and tenacity rather than artworks. Either way, I worked through my creative lapse and personal problems and am satisfied with the results.

Still angry and upset, I tackled my life sized self-portrait as fantasy with the same gusto.  This time however, I used a piece of peach colored pastel card to create the face and ruff and then used various other materials and media to create the figure on the nearly 4×6 foot sheet of watercolor paper. Additionally, I placed images around and on the figure to help emphasize the fantasy aspects:  being a king/queen, being pregnant, being pissed off, being caught in a self-induced nightmare, holding the hand of a mysterious character off the page (and yet engaging with only the viewer).   I had a lot of fun with this.  Laura and I talked a bit about art as therapy.   Although I seldom consider my work to be cathartic, I admit that creating a big self portrait during a period of turmoil was incredibly and ironically relevant.