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About Traditional Art / Professional Member Clara LieuFemale/United States Groups :iconr-i-s-d: R-I-S-D
 
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Chipboard Sculptures

I’ve been making countless revisions and taking notes on future strategies to improve this new video project.  Additionally, I’ve been picking the brains of my freshmen students at RISD, as well as my RISD Project Open Doorstudents.

I’ve been fascinated by my students’ thoughts, specifically about their efforts to learn art on their own before coming art school. Technology is radically different than when I was their age, considering that I did not grow up with the Internet. Across the board, the students agreed that none of the people doing video tutorials right now have legitimate credentials.  They said the current tutorials are terrible, and that they were overwhelmed by having to wade through so much awful content.  I’ve come to the same conclusion myself; pretty much every tutorial I watched was by an amateur artist. I found just a few art teachers doing tutorials, and I only found one video from an art school professor. I asked the students if there was one major site that had everything they needed. The students said that nothing like that exists, and that they had to piece together fragments from several sites, which resulted in a haphazard mess of information that was impossible to organize.

One student commented that the existing tutorials all seem to be about teaching you to draw in one artist’s distinctive style, and that none of the tutorials teach basic techniques that could be applied in any way so that you could then develop your own style. They all agreed that their first impulse was to go to Youtube.  The students almost never used books because you can’t watch the physical movements involved with a technique, which in many cases is critical to learning how to use an art material. Several students noted that most books and videos frequently left out important steps in the process and didn’t explain what art materials were required.

While my “Ask the Art Professor” advice column and my book were great experiences for me, the written format ultimately has major constraints when it comes to teaching visual art. There’s a huge limit to what you can explain verbally.  To really talk about visual art in depth, you need a visual medium to deliver the content.

This video project is finally getting me to go all out.  In retrospect, I think the written format was too safe; in an article or book, you don’t have to put yourself on full visual display. Video is the medium that will produce the most complete experience I could possibly offer outside of the classroom. No other medium exists that could provide a fuller experience.  The video format is stretching me so much farther than the written format, which is simultaneously exciting and daunting.

Clipboard01

I love being part of an art school community, and as a result, almost everyone I encounter is a professional artist, art student, or art professor.  Today, this artistic environment is my day to day life. Having nerdy conversations about topics like chincolle and lithographic crayons is routine for me. One great advantage of being surrounded by artists is that I have many artist friends who I can get feedback from on my work.

However, this time it didn’t make sense to get feedback from my artist friends for this new video series. I would just be preaching to the choir. I realized that I needed to step outside of my art school bubble.  While I’m sure there is a population of art school students who would also benefit from this video series, I am guessing that the majority of my target audience has never to art school, and never will.

Over the past decade, I’ve become accustomed to teaching students who have passed through a rigorous college admissions process.  By comparison, the idea of teaching the layman is presenting an unprecedented test of my teaching skills. How do I teach gesture drawing to someone who has never even heard of it? How do I explain the critique process? These are incredible challenges that I can’t wait to tackle.

Instead, I asked a friend who is a college professor in an unrelated field.   She’s helped me in the past with general teaching strategies, but she is also the first to admit that she has no clue when it comes to visual art. Talking to her helps me get out of my art school bubble and back into the rest of the world’s reality.

I want this video series to have a broad enough appeal that there will be something for everyone, no matter what level of experience they are at.  It sounds ambitious, but I think that there has to be some way for the series to appeal to the layman, the professional artist, and everyone in between.

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Like all of my other projects, there’s a learning curve with this new video project. I tried to anticipate concerns, but I knew that I wouldn’t see the problems until I had an actual product in front of me that I could critique.

After reviewing my content, I’ve realized that I need to emphasize comparisons between common mistakes with good technique much more. I have to actually demonstrate the bad habits, show the results, explain why those habits are detrimental, and then follow up with good technique.  Seeing the mistakes enhances the rationale for the good technique even further.

Since I teach freshmen at RISD, I spend a significant amount of time getting students to unlearn poor habits. I devote just as much time telling students what not to do, as I do telling them what to do.  This is especially true in the fall semester, when high school was just a few months ago for the students. Unfortunately, it’s common for many high school students to be taught an extremely narrow minded way of drawing.  I had a student once who was shocked to hear that drawing wasn’t just about “making your drawing look like a photograph.” This process of shedding bad habits can be hugely challenging; I’ve had experienced students tell me that they wished they had come into my class with no background at all.

On top of that, common mistakes also occur because students don’t think beyond their first impulse.  If you don’t take the initiative to explore other options, you’ll end up doing things in the most obvious way. Consequently, everyone else has that same first thought, which is what makes something cliche and boring. For the first homework of my RISD freshman drawing class, the vast majority of the class will default to the most obvious response: a stiff drawing with objects placed in the center with blank backgrounds.  The student drawings that stand out are the ones that pushed well beyond that first thought.

KZ1 KH1

I’m guessing that my target audience is in some ways not that different from my students at RISD.  I’m anticipating that they will have the same bad habits too, and hopefully acknowledging those problems will help drive home the good technique.

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There’s never a dull moment when you’re a college professor at an art school. This week I discovered some new graffiti in the elevator at RISD.  Apparently, everything is my fault when students are in my class.  I’ve had students draw my portrait into their homework assignments before, but this is a whole new milestone. Below are some favorite portraits of me, drawn by my students.

Here’s one by Lauryn Welch, along with her personal commentary.

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This portrait below I found on drawyourprofessor.com.  I still haven’t figured out who drew it!

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Here’s a portrait of what I would look like if I was an otter, drawn by Jackie Ferrentino.

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And another of me, with my TA on my right. Drawn by Alina Buevich.

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Clipboard012

Considering that I primarily work in drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, many people are surprised that my undergraduate training was focused on oil painting.  I haven’t picked up a brush since 2006, but this new project has gotten me to dig way back into my past with oil painting and it’s surprising how deeply ingrained those lessons are.

I started oil painting early as a junior in high school, and it’s appalling how awful my technique was for so long. Despite the fact that I took numerous oil painting classes, it wasn’t until I had been oil painting for 3 years that I finally started to make progress.   My sophomore year at RISD, I was required to take a Painting I course in the Illustration department.  My oil painting background was a fractured mess of failure at that point, and I felt totally lost even though I had taken so many oil painting classes.

My professor Nick Palermo provided clear, concrete instructions that finally made sense to me.  He required us to use very specific supplies and tools, and gave explicit reasons for why he wanted us to use them.   I realized after taking Nick’s painting class that there were SO many technical aspects that I had been doing blatantly wrong for such a long time. For example, I couldn’t believe that no one had introduced me to a silicoil brush cleaning tank before then. Evidently, I was never taught to clean my brushes properly, so consequently my color mixtures were always dirty, which lead to muddy paintings. The second I started to clean my brushes in a competent manner, my paintings become noticeably more vibrant. The brushes sitting in my closet are the same brushes I used in Nick’s class 20 years ago.

Senior year at RISD, I had Tony Janello for a portrait painting class and he revolutionized my painting technique.  Tony forced us to paint with literally 1 white, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 blue.  This approach seemed extreme, but I learned more about color mixing than I had in all of the previous years combined. With only 3 colors, I had to work really hard to be innovative with my color mixing.

For this project, it’s been inspiring to think back to every teacher’s unique approach to painting. It’s interesting to think about what methods I’ve kept, what I’ve rejected, and my reasoning for those decisions.  This process has been tremendously helpful in getting me to boil down my techniques.

Chipboard Sculptures

I’ve been making countless revisions and taking notes on future strategies to improve this new video project.  Additionally, I’ve been picking the brains of my freshmen students at RISD, as well as my RISD Project Open Doorstudents.

I’ve been fascinated by my students’ thoughts, specifically about their efforts to learn art on their own before coming art school. Technology is radically different than when I was their age, considering that I did not grow up with the Internet. Across the board, the students agreed that none of the people doing video tutorials right now have legitimate credentials.  They said the current tutorials are terrible, and that they were overwhelmed by having to wade through so much awful content.  I’ve come to the same conclusion myself; pretty much every tutorial I watched was by an amateur artist. I found just a few art teachers doing tutorials, and I only found one video from an art school professor. I asked the students if there was one major site that had everything they needed. The students said that nothing like that exists, and that they had to piece together fragments from several sites, which resulted in a haphazard mess of information that was impossible to organize.

One student commented that the existing tutorials all seem to be about teaching you to draw in one artist’s distinctive style, and that none of the tutorials teach basic techniques that could be applied in any way so that you could then develop your own style. They all agreed that their first impulse was to go to Youtube.  The students almost never used books because you can’t watch the physical movements involved with a technique, which in many cases is critical to learning how to use an art material. Several students noted that most books and videos frequently left out important steps in the process and didn’t explain what art materials were required.

While my “Ask the Art Professor” advice column and my book were great experiences for me, the written format ultimately has major constraints when it comes to teaching visual art. There’s a huge limit to what you can explain verbally.  To really talk about visual art in depth, you need a visual medium to deliver the content.

This video project is finally getting me to go all out.  In retrospect, I think the written format was too safe; in an article or book, you don’t have to put yourself on full visual display. Video is the medium that will produce the most complete experience I could possibly offer outside of the classroom. No other medium exists that could provide a fuller experience.  The video format is stretching me so much farther than the written format, which is simultaneously exciting and daunting.

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claralieu's Profile Picture
claralieu
Clara Lieu
Artist | Professional | Traditional Art
United States
I am a professor, writer, and visual artist. I am a blogger for the Huffington Post, where I write an advice column for visual artists called "Ask the Art Professor". I published my first book, "Learn, Create, and Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life" in 2013.

I currently teach in the Division of Foundation Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the past I have taught in the Illustration and Printmaking departments at RISD, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, at Wellesley College, and at the Lesley University College of Art and Design. For four years I was the Director of the Jewett Art Gallery.

My studio practice explores isolation and mental illness through drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Recent exhibitions have been at the International Print Center New York, Bromfield Gallery, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Currier Museum of Art, the RISD Museum of Art, and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center. I have received grants from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Puffin Foundation.

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:iconsandrapelly:
SandraPelly Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Your work touched me greatly.   It left me   speechless and stunned and at same time I felt as if someone finally understands. I  hope you have defeated your demons because I am still figuring mine.  Seeing your work gave me extra push to  sort myself out  and express myself more.   Thank you. 
Reply
:icongoatqueen:
GoatQueen Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014
Did you ever do something on how to ship art once it's sold?
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I haven't, but mostly because there are already tons of articles out there on how to ship your work when you sell it online.  It also depends on what online site you're using. If you want to know, Etsy has a lot of information on how to do it. 
Reply
:icongoatqueen:
GoatQueen Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
ok ty!
Reply
:iconmiguelopazo:
miguelopazo Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I like your gallery, I feel is like a representation of many episodes on my mind
Reply
:icon33m:
33M Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
after vacation I was delighted to see your newest deviations come through....Wonderful work.  I learn very much from your work and your writing.

M
Reply
:iconimfragrance:
imFragrance Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014   General Artist
Your blog is very helpful ! Thank you for your helpful advices.
Reply
:iconodistrait:
Odistrait Featured By Owner May 21, 2014
I just finished going over a few of the post on your advice column and watching a portion of your lecture video. It has been truly inspiring so far and I will definitely share your advice column with the teacher who oversaw my work at the magnet art school I attended in high school, so that other students might benefit from your advice. I hope that's okay.

thanks again,

Jean
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner May 22, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Of course!  I am delighted that you found the columns and video interesting.  Thank you!
Reply
:icongoatqueen:
GoatQueen Featured By Owner May 10, 2014
Hey,

Since you used a lot of Dura Lar in your works I've always wanted to try some.
I found some in the art classroom so I jumped at the opportunity to use it. I have to admit, I really like it and I want to keep on experimenting.
 
Here's the work.
graveyardbat.deviantart.com/ar…

I did another work using the paper, but I haven't uploaded it yet.

Have a nice day!
Reply
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