Week 6 - Training for Life

I thought that my test taking days was over when I finished junior college back in 2008. Taking tests was not the most exciting thing for me, nor was studying for them. I wasn't a huge fan of school all together back in those days. The only time I deemed it necessary to celebrate during my days at school, was when school was actually over with. I remember throwing a party based solely on the event of me passing my Statistics class (the theme of my party was my triumph over the beast that is mathematics). So you can imagine my restlessness upon realizing that I would need to take a test in Art History, let alone a mid-term. I approached studying with a sort of a frustration. I think any artist can relate to this. There is a strong sense of entitlement that comes with being an artist that I have to really battle with. Sometimes, I think that being an artist comes with an excuse to not have to conform to any kind of way. So it can almost be offensive to my ego when my attention is requested away from my art production to some thing more mundane like test taking. So in part I will be honest about how much I struggled with sitting myself down and studying for a mid-term exam.

I think it is so monumentally important for me to get past this idea, that I don't need to do what is required of me, because I am an artist. I think that is why an artist's most hated term can be "curriculum". We think that a prescription to anything formulated will in some way damage our creative goals. This simply isn't true. I have come to realize that part of my training as an artist, lies within the discipline of curriculum. Having to wake up early, and spend 10 hours focused on concepts that are stepping stones, to the next concept, training us for a life of staying on track, and moving towards the goal. If I can't study for an exam, which has everything to do with art, let alone, do well on the exam, then how will I face the many other challenges that I will run into as an artist in the days ahead?

Katherine Zoraster tested us on our true comprehension of the material, instead of a shallow memorization of dates and capitals. I will be honest right now, and say, that I love that. Developing our comprehension of "why" and "what for" in our study of art production from the past, is most crucial to our art production of the future. I don't think enough art work today begs the viewer to ask, "why?" All the art work dating from the Palaeolithic period, always has a reason as to why it was created. I believe that it's that reason that gives the art work its weight, and it's relevance. So us LAAFA students, need to understand "why," and we need to be tested, and challenged to explain "why". Otherwise, we become artists who are uneducated, and cannot correlate intellect with aesthetic. In turn, I finished being very grateful for the opportunity to study art history, and not only that, to have received an A grade on my exam. (Go me!)

Since I have started at LAAFA, I had not touched a paintbrush to a canvas. Being in my "drawing year" here at school, I have committed myself to only drawing, and studying anatomy. In Noah Buchanan's class, the paint brush returned to my hand. Noah showed us a new technique that I have never seen before that involved charcoal drawing, but laying in tone using brushes. We began the drawing by marking our measurements and placements of the objects, using vine charcoal. Then, over our vine charcoal markings, we reinforce our decisions with a heavier charcoal pencil, to solidify our markings. Then, like the initial wash onto a canvas, we "pepper" a sanding of the vine charcoal over our established markings-like graded cheese over pasta. Using a brush to sweep the vine sanding back and forth, from one side of the drawing to the other, we created a "veil of tone" to cover the drawing we have earlier made. From here, the drawing process becomes very much like painting. In a typical drawing, we would move from light to dark, in the veiled tonal drawings, we move from dark to light. We draw in the subtractive sense, removing dark to work our way up to our lightest light. Vine charcoal is a very delicate medium, which can be removed with the slightest of touch, let alone the touch of a paint brush. Using the paint brush, we delicately remove the vine in a painterly fashion, creating a drawing that obtains the fluidity of a Sargent painting.

Flash forward to Friday morning and I find myself in Rey Bustos' anatomy class or as he calls it "Rey's Anatomy." I bring in my finished skeletal ecorche model, incredibly proud of myself for my accomplishment. "Accomplishment" may be a strong word-wait, no, it's exactly the right word, for this beast of a project. Every week, the ecorche model demands 99.8% of my time outside class; and oh my, it's like being married with ten kids. The tender love and care involved in making, and taking care of this project is a lot like having a child. The students would ask one another through the week, "how is your ecorche model doing? What time does he take his naps? Our ecorche's should get together and play some time!" If you think I am joking, then you are wrong. We have all become overbearing and concerned parents of 12 inch tall skeletal children!

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