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DIY Drawing Charcoal Holder

bamboo stalk with vine charcoalDIY Drawing Charcoal Holder

Another DIY, do it yourself, project using recycled materials.  Working with charcoal can be a messy affair.  There are times when using a charcoal holder not only keeps your hands cleaner but it can also give you more control.  This charcoal holder can be used with the slim  vine or compressed charcoal.

Materials & Supplies

  • Bamboo: Dried bamboo stalks can be found at decorator and florist shops.
  • Packing wire
  • glue
  • sharpie
  • tape
  • saw
  • vice

Instructions

You will need a bamboo stalk with an opening the diameter of your charcoal.  I was able to use the bamboo from an orchid plant; the bamboo was used to hold up the flower stem.  Make sure your bamboo has nodes as divider segments

charcoal_holder_split_to_nodeFrom the divider node of the bamboo, measure an inch up, toward the top where the charcoal will be, and mark.  The node keeps the bamboo from splitting completely.

Put the bamboo in a vice with the bottom facing up.  The vice will hold the bamboo while you saw.     Make the first cut, saw down the shaft of the bamboo to the 1″ mark.  You can wrap tape around the shaft at the bottom end  to hold bamboo together while you saw down the shaft.  Remove the tape.

charcoal_holder_bindWind the wire around the shaft, not too tight as you will want to slide it up and down.  Make a wire stop to keep the wire from sliding off the bamboo. With the saw, gently score around the shaft of the bamboo, about a third of the way down the shaft from the bottom end.  Apply glue in the score and wrap the wire around the glued scored area and let it dry for a day.

To decorate the charcoal holder, wrap the shaft with yarn.

charcoal_holder_side

 

Small portrait study

watercolor study, mamacita

watercolor study, mamacita

Portrait study Jan 08

Graphite on watercolor paper

Graphite on watercolor paper

Sketch for the sea

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Jan 03 2015

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An offering for 2015 Jan 02

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Today’s offering

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Online classes

“Taking Online Classes” part 2. In July I took an online art course from Artist Network University (ANU). I had always wanted to take a workshop from Betsy Dillard Stroud,  but either the time was not right or the place was too far. An online course seemed an attractive alternative, but how well do they work?

Floral assignment, working in layers

Assignment 3: Work in progress

The setup
Signing up for the course was simple. The cost for the four week online course was $170 US, compared to a four day workshop with Betsy Dillard Stroud which usually runs more than $500. BlackBoard was used for communicating assignments, uploading your work, feedback, and sharing. I did not care for the BlackBoard interface. I found it limited in navigating efficiently to the sections I always used, taking too many links to get to the assignments, feedback, and sharing sections.

The instructor
Betsy has been teaching this module, Painting Abstraction and Abstract Realism in Acrylics, for many years. It appeared that she used the written materials from her workshop. In addition, I was able to find a YouTube video from one of her workshops.  Also she provided one video for the first assignment, learning how to make rubber stamps.

Assignment 1: Work in progress

Assignment 1: Work in progress

BlackBoard provides an interface to communicate with the instructor and Betsy was diligent in answering questions. Answers usually arrived the next day. ANU runs on EST. I am on the west coast, PDT.

The assignments
As this is a course Betsy has previously taught, the assignments were well thought out and fun. Each assignment built on one another. She provided examples of her own work for the assignment.

Each week had one assignment, though the students could do more than one piece, however only one piece could be submitted for the assignment. Some assignments gave you more than one option to choose subject or technique.  I found the assignments took me 3 to 10 hours to complete.  We worked primarily on watercolor paper, though she allowed us to work on canvas if we chose.

I am a visual person and I would have liked more video demonstrations. One for each assignment would have been terrific.

The critiques
Finished assignments were due on Fridays; this was achieved by uploading a digital image to BlackBoard. Instructor feedback came in the next day, which was great. Betsy provided in depth analysis of your painting, praising the good parts and giving valuable suggestions for making your piece stronger. This was the best part of the course.

Sharing
Blackboard provided a section to share your work with other students. One

Final project: Putting it all together

could upload a work in progress or a finished piece. It is here where we asked questions or shared techniques. On this note though, it was often confusing where one was supposed to do this and often the students would receive an email saying we were posting in the wrong section. Plus the sharing only worked if other students took the time to post. Here I felt the online course was lacking, it was not like taking a break during a workshop and wandering around to view other works, sharing techniques, breakthroughs, challenges, products, and ideas.  This stimulation is invaluable, we learn not only from the instructor but also from each other.

Summary
Would I take another online course? I think I would if I were familiar with the instructor, or if it were an instructor from whom I would never be able to take a course. While there were short comings I did learn new techniques and I liked the paintings I produced. Was it worth $170? I think with the techniques I learned, I could generate that much in the paintings I will be able to sell. Could I have learned this from books? Probably, but I’m the type of person that needs an assignment to get going. For me, taking a class gets me further than I would on my own.

One would need to have experience working online.  Photographing one’s work is a challenge in itself and the topic for another course.  One needs to know how to upload images, navigate links, and post messages.  While it not impossible for a novice, it could become frustrating.

I think this course could have profited from more video content. The biggest lack I found was in student interaction. Sometimes being an artist is a lonely profession and in taking an online course, one still works alone.

Carrying on

 

Watercolor by Tomi Michisaki

Watercolor by Tomi Michisaki

My biggest supporter passed away and now I realize just how much her support carried me.  She was at the base of my belief in myself.  At times I feel as though I am drifting in space after having lost contact with the mothership.  My grounding is gone, I am no longer centered, the wind has gone out of my sails.  All the art I ever did, I did for her.  Now what?

Part of me has not accepted that she is gone, it is as though, in my mind, she is still there, in her favorite chair in our childhood home.  Recently I was able to persuade her to paint with me.  We watched painting videos, we painted, we shared.

Not long ago an art mentor who shared his ideas and thoughts about art passed away and I remembered being shocked, thinking that he would always be there.  Why did I think things would not change?  A cloud of complacency enchanted me.

I am sluggish.  Maybe this is a good time to pick up a brush and just begin.  She would want that.  I know she would.

Journey12

Journey 12 Bristol vellum, 9×12 2014

School’s out

art3A_final6
Yay, final project turned in. No more classes until August. A full 3 months to enjoy summer. Well almost…

art3A_final3

ART 3B Life Drawing: Continues development of fundamental skills of the representation of the human figure.

Final Project:

“First learn the truth, and then deviate to your heart’s content”, a quote attributed to Mark Twain. Until the last two weeks of class, I’ve been learning the ‘language’ of drawing; how to observe, then render what I see. For my final project I proposed a series of drawings that take the skills I’ve learned and to deviate from the reality of what I see, to drawing the feeling of the pose, the grace and beauty of the figure.

art3A_final4

My instructor often characterized my work as “careful”, and I wanted to abandon the careful lines and marks and create something more loose. Before I even began to draw, I created random marks and splatters on large format paper, 26 x 40 inches. Taking the initial gestural charcoal drawing, I began to add washes of ink and color. I moved away from local color in favor of two colors, warm and cool. Drips, water blooms, and random pastel marks created texture against quiet open white spaces.

art3A_final5art3A_final2art3A_final1