First semester reflections

Drawing I


Drawing I was huge for me in several ways. First, it was a major confidence boost. My basic skills on the whole had surpassed Drawing I, but I loved taking the class anyway. The teacher told me I got the highest grade in the class, but it felt really good to have my ability affirmed. Everyone in class really liked my drawings, and

I had more drawings featured than anyone else in the class.


Even though most of my skills were beyond this class, I still learned so much and it was an incredible experience. I had never used charcoal to this extent before, and I developed a new love for the medium. I also got to toy with media I never thought I’d use before. Conte crayon is really fun and nothing beats vine/willow charcoal for big sweeping gesture drawings. I learned how to take up an entire large sheet of paper with a drawing, and I learned how to use a complex subject to create a composition.


I did things I never thought I’d do. I drew buildings, still lives, pumpkins, a complicated pile of random plush toys, a window, curtains and drapes. And the cool thing is that I did all that. I was never sure if I could, but I did it and now I know I can. This is the main reason I set out for art school — to prove to myself I could. Now I am and it feels great.


I think the two most important things I learned are as follows.


First, I learned so much about creating space in a drawing. About using line and value to create convincing space, how to change a drawing to bring some parts forward and push others back.  How to ground objects so they have weight and look like they’re sitting on something. How to anchor a picture and put everything in its place.


Second, I learned how to look at the value in a picture and see the picture as a whole. I never really looked at a picture as a whole before, not the way I do now. I don’t know if that’s something I ever would have learned on my own. Now I can see a drawing and I’m consciously aware of how the values help define the image. How they create the space and develop the composition, turning it from a flat page to something that lives and breathes. I’ve been able to see it in color drawings, too, and I feel like I have a much better sense of what art is all about.


I am so glad I made the decision to go back to school and take these classes. I don’t have a drawing class next semester, but I’m looking forward to my next one (probably figure drawing). I can’t imagine what I’ll learn. This one class has already fundamentally changed my approach to drawing for the better.


Type & Design Principles


I had such a love-hate relationship with this class. On one hand, I learned a lot. On the other, the instructor and his approach made me want to drop the course a few times during the semester.


Most of this class focused on understanding typography, typographic layouts, and InDesign. It was remarkably useful to me, since I’ve never touched InDesign before. And I realized that developing print layouts isn’t as intimidating as it seemed before. I’m sure professionals have to work hard to make those lovely designs, but the basics of print design are far easier than I imagined. I’m also learning not to psych myself out so much thanks to this class.


The teacher was terrible. I learned more from just doing the projects than I did from anything he lectured on or tried to explain. All too often, he had us waste studio time doing some inane busy work instead of allowing us to work on our projects. He also made us spend multiple three-hour class sessions doing long, aimless critiques that took up the entire time for no real reason.  And on top of it all, he was horribly disorganized. We had no hard due dates for the final project until the class before. A couple projects and presentations got postponed weeks because he simply forgot about them. There was very little structure to the class and a lot of studio days, he had us do some kind of busy work just because he randomly felt like we should. Often it was busy work we’d already done, and it was never graded busy work.


Despite that, I learned a lot by getting hands-on with InDesign. I learned about master pages, how to manipulate type, how to create spreads and pages, how to send to PDF, how to do all kinds of things. I wouldn’t consider myself an InDesign expert, but thanks to this semester I can use the program. And that means I can design and create my own print publications for the future.


The final project for this class was to create a magazine article spanning four spreads. We used lorem ipsum filler text for the article content. I created my article based on a “how to draw” type article out of ImagineFX magazine. Because of this project, I am inspired to turn this into a real article/eBooklet walking people through the process. I figure it will give me useful InDesign experience, will help me pimp out the Sparrow, and can be a way of “giving back” to the art community. Maybe it will help someone else learn how to create their own masthead image!


Next semester I’m taking only one studio: Digital Techniques. Based on the course description, it sounds like the class involves learning a lot of Adobe software. I don’t pretend to be a master at Photoshop, etc. I know how to draw but there are a lot of things that escape me. I only learned how to use adjustment layers recently, and they’ve been a huge boon to my coloring process. I hope this class teaches me some more techniques I can employ.

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