Tag Archives: mixed media art

Everybody’s Ocean Art Exhibit at MAH

Jellies: Mixed media 2014

Jellies: Mixed media 2014

Everybody’s Ocean, an art exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.  Wave II runs Feb 27 through Apr 19.

My submission, “Jellies”, an abstract mixed media art piece of the surreal and ghostly jellies as they drift through the upper ocean realm.

Scuba diving in Monterey Bay, we saw many jellies as they were a frequent visitor.  As jellies float slowly through the water, it was easy to get close to examine them.  Sometimes one could spot small crabs on the bell, or an unfortunate fish tangled in the tentacles.  And sometimes swarms of jellies surrounded and flowed passed us.

For me, having lived along the coast all my life, the ocean is a circadian rhythm.

To be full immersed in the ocean, to give in to the power of the ocean, and to let oneself be gently rocked in the ocean’s embrace is an incredible feeling.

The ocean is life.  The ocean provides food, water, and air.  Without the ocean we cannot exist.

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.

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.

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.

Found Art Project Proposal

Often it is a single object that launches a project. It may not turn out to be the focal point. It may not even end up in the finished project, but the shape, material, mood, or memory that it stirs, will set the tone of the piece. It is such with the piece this proposal covers.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The basic simplicity of the shape and the rust patina is what initially caught my eye, figure 1. These two elements will be the base of the piece, creating a simple aesthetic.

Adding like objects will reinforce the shape and patina, and help to creates unity, figure 2.

In Buddhism, the circle symbolizes enlightenment and wholeness. Looking at the objects, a mandala comes to mind. The mandala represents the universe or the self. The rust patina of the objects suggests aging. My proposal is to create a mandala representing my life as I head into old age, the natural cycle of life.

Figure 2

Figure 2

The Buddhist concept of the void fits in with the negative space in the metal frame. The gears are representative of the infinite time spectrum, time marches on. The circular shapes echo the cycle of life.

One style of mandalas consists of rings, the ‘charnel grounds’, representing dying; a reminder of the impermanence and transient nature of life. Within the rings lies the mandala palace, populated by deities and Buddhas. While not adhering to the classic mandala, I will endeavor towards these ideals.

The difficulty I foresee will be the weight of the objects. The metal frame and the gears are very heavy. I would like to make a hanging piece but the weight of the objects may be too great. Alternatively a standing piece may be a possibility.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Another challenge will be assembling the pieces. As we are dealing with metal, welding comes to mind. But the wonderful rust patina may be damaged.

There is the possibility of wire or chain to place the objects. These avenues of attachment will need to be explored.