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Clara Lieu
Artist | Professional | Traditional Art
United States
I am a professor, writer, and visual artist. I write an advice column for visual artists called "Ask the Art Professor" which is featured in the Huffington Post. I currently teach in the Illlustration department at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the past I have taught in RISD Foundation Studies, the RISD Printmaking department, 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 Gallery.

My studio practice explores isolation and mental illness through drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. I have exhibited my work 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.

Activity


crayon-still-life-tutorial_034

by Clara Lieu

I came up with the idea for Art Prof way back in October 2014, and it still constantly amazes me how far we have come since that idea first floated in my head. Way back in the fall of 2015, we shot a portrait drawing in charcoal tutorial, which I always imagined was going to be the featured tutorial when we launched the new Art Prof website.

In recent months I’ve been reviewing our content, as we prepare for our upcoming site launch.  Looking at this 2015 tutorial, it felt completely out of place within the context of all of our new content.  This 2015 tutorial (photo below) was really my first time on camera and it really shows if you watch this tutorial compared to our new content. I was very nervous at the time, so I heavily scripted every single sentence.  On top of that, I knew absolutely nothing about the video editing process, so I had no idea what could be done in terms of post production. It was exciting to learn so much, but as we all know, those first steps in a new experience are always awkward and challenging.

2015-prototype_010

On the set of my first charcoal drawing tutorial, shot in 2015


In the 2015 tutorial, I worked with an editor and sat next to him to edit the content and add additional content like diagrams, terminology, etc. to the video. I guess the equivalent would be if I traveled to Turkey, and needed an interpreter with me every second I was there to get around.

By comparison, I am now fluent and could navigate Turkey entirely by myself: I know all aspects of the tutorial process and can think through the process much more quickly and efficiently.  I’ve spent countless hours learning video editing, and while I’m no expert, I can competently edit a video with little help.  I don’t script the tutorials at all.  I literally write down about 10 bullet points I want to cover, (see photo below) and then everything else I make up on the spot. Doing the tutorials ad lib is about 2% of the work I did on the 2015 tutorial, it’s about 1000 easier, and the results are significantly better.  When I scripted the tutorials, it made me nervous and stiff. Now, my approach to what I say is very similar to how I teach in my classes at RISD-completely spontaneous and unscripted.

2016-cross-hatching_016

I slaved over that 2015 tutorial, and put in a mind boggling number of hours into it, between the planning/shooting/post production, etc. Most of those hours were difficult and frustrating because I was so new to the process. However, I had to face the fact that this tutorial was going to be a terribly sore thumb within the context of our new content, so as painful as it was, I decided to scrap the 2015 tutorial and shoot all new tutorials for the new website.

I’m enough of a perfectionist that I’m willing to part with material I invested tons of labor into for the sake of maintaining consistency and quality on the new website. The 2 new tutorials are on how to draw a still life and self-portrait using Caran d’Ache crayons. With my new skills in video editing and being on camera that I’ve been honing for 2 years now, I think these new tutorials are a vast improvement.

crayon-still-life-tutorial_033

Drawing in color is such a great way to get acquainted with color without having to break the bank paying for tons of painting supplies. I think so many people think about drawing media as being only black and white, and don’t even consider very often that you can really learn a lot about color through drawing.  Using color in drawing is a good option especially when the large number of painting supplies is too expensive, or if you haven’t taken a painting class yet. (in my opinion, painting really is one of those techniques where if you don’t have proper training, and don’t know exactly what supplies to purchase, it really is insufferably difficult to do)

clara-selfportrait-tutorial_001

The self-portrait drawing tutorial demonstrates how to draw a self-portrait from life.  I was surprised that when I looked up “How to draw a self-portrait” on Youtube, that there is no video that shows you how to draw a self-portrait using a mirror.  Every video showed the artist drawing from a photo of themselves.  I found one video where the artist held a mirror in his hand, but didn’t use it.  (why are you holding a mirror if you aren’t going to use it to draw a self-portrait?) I am hoping this tutorial fills a gap-because clearly, there is a huge one when it comes to drawing a self-portrait from life.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

subscribe

My learning curve on Art Prof has been so dramatic, that as painful as it was, I made the decision to scrap my 2015 charcoal drawing tutorial and recently shot 2 new ones on drawing in color. Read more about my thinking process: claralieu.wordpress.com/2017/0…
The vast majority of the time, the issues I see in student charcoal drawings are simply because they don't have the right tools. Here are my recommendations for what you need to draw with charcoal: wp.me/pasJI-2xh

img_7668

For the past few months, I’ve been making graphite drawings on tissue paper of elderly figures. (see above) Unlike my past projects, I had no idea what these drawings were about as I created them.  I thought that if I worked on these drawings long enough, their purpose would eventually emerge.  I was right.

I haven’t written anything in reaction to the U.S. presidential election results because I felt paralyzed and helpless.  However, as a visual artist, I can speak with images when I have no words.

Over the past week, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the generations of women who came before me: what they have seen, what they have heard in previous decades.

An older friend of mine told me that she couldn’t watch the TV show Mad Men because the blatant misogyny portrayed on the show was exactly she actually experienced in real life.

My older sister told me that she recently read the book Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. My sister told me that she had no idea the shocking obstacles Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor had to confront in their careers because of their gender.

Last year, I read A Fighting ChanceElizabeth Warren’s autobiography. She worked so hard under extremely trying circumstances to earn a college scholarship, but then left college to get married.  During that time period, that’s what women were expected to do.

Then last week, I watched Hillary Clinton put herself together after a crushing defeat and give a concession speech with utmost class, respect, and grace.

Despite their scars, these women got back up, stood up, and kept walking.

img_7860

I didn’t plan the gender of the figures in my elderly drawings in advance. Perhaps not coincidentally, all of the elderly figures I’ve drawn so far have been women.

After the election, I looked at my drawings with a different set of eyes.

I realized that the physical tears in my drawings are not about the physical frailty of old age as I initially thought they were. The drawings are not about my fear of mortality, or about the deterioration of the human body in the last stages of life.

The rips in my drawings are the scars that older women walk with every day. Generations of women have been torn to shreds, marginalized, in more ways than I can fathom. Through my drawings, I want to show that despite these harrowing experiences, these women still put themselves back together and kept walking forward. I hope in this time of unrest and uncertainty, that I can be as strong as they are, and that I can teach my two daughters to do the same.

img_7864

I have always felt that throughout history, art is an inherent reaction to cultural and historical context.   Kathe Kollwitz’s works were a direct response to World Word II, Leon Golub’s paintings were his reactions to the Vietnam War.  Even artworks that have nothing to do with the world events are still a reaction to the time period they were created in.

As one person, I cannot affect government legislation the way the lawmakers do, and I do not have the skills to foster positive change the way many brave activists do every day.  I will however, make images that matter and react to the world we live in. As a visual artist, that’s a responsibility I haven’t tried to deliberately embrace before.

Starting today, I will.


Related Videos
Drawing Process for these Elderly Drawings


Related Articles
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork
Drawing Experiments:  Layered Drawings
The Tug of Thumbnail Sketches

Only 10 more days to do the Oct. Art Dare: Your Future Self. Mind maps and sketches count as submissions! More info on prizes/guidelines/tips: wp.me/pasJI-4Oj

crayon-still-life-tutorial_034

by Clara Lieu

I came up with the idea for Art Prof way back in October 2014, and it still constantly amazes me how far we have come since that idea first floated in my head. Way back in the fall of 2015, we shot a portrait drawing in charcoal tutorial, which I always imagined was going to be the featured tutorial when we launched the new Art Prof website.

In recent months I’ve been reviewing our content, as we prepare for our upcoming site launch.  Looking at this 2015 tutorial, it felt completely out of place within the context of all of our new content.  This 2015 tutorial (photo below) was really my first time on camera and it really shows if you watch this tutorial compared to our new content. I was very nervous at the time, so I heavily scripted every single sentence.  On top of that, I knew absolutely nothing about the video editing process, so I had no idea what could be done in terms of post production. It was exciting to learn so much, but as we all know, those first steps in a new experience are always awkward and challenging.

2015-prototype_010

On the set of my first charcoal drawing tutorial, shot in 2015


In the 2015 tutorial, I worked with an editor and sat next to him to edit the content and add additional content like diagrams, terminology, etc. to the video. I guess the equivalent would be if I traveled to Turkey, and needed an interpreter with me every second I was there to get around.

By comparison, I am now fluent and could navigate Turkey entirely by myself: I know all aspects of the tutorial process and can think through the process much more quickly and efficiently.  I’ve spent countless hours learning video editing, and while I’m no expert, I can competently edit a video with little help.  I don’t script the tutorials at all.  I literally write down about 10 bullet points I want to cover, (see photo below) and then everything else I make up on the spot. Doing the tutorials ad lib is about 2% of the work I did on the 2015 tutorial, it’s about 1000 easier, and the results are significantly better.  When I scripted the tutorials, it made me nervous and stiff. Now, my approach to what I say is very similar to how I teach in my classes at RISD-completely spontaneous and unscripted.

2016-cross-hatching_016

I slaved over that 2015 tutorial, and put in a mind boggling number of hours into it, between the planning/shooting/post production, etc. Most of those hours were difficult and frustrating because I was so new to the process. However, I had to face the fact that this tutorial was going to be a terribly sore thumb within the context of our new content, so as painful as it was, I decided to scrap the 2015 tutorial and shoot all new tutorials for the new website.

I’m enough of a perfectionist that I’m willing to part with material I invested tons of labor into for the sake of maintaining consistency and quality on the new website. The 2 new tutorials are on how to draw a still life and self-portrait using Caran d’Ache crayons. With my new skills in video editing and being on camera that I’ve been honing for 2 years now, I think these new tutorials are a vast improvement.

crayon-still-life-tutorial_033

Drawing in color is such a great way to get acquainted with color without having to break the bank paying for tons of painting supplies. I think so many people think about drawing media as being only black and white, and don’t even consider very often that you can really learn a lot about color through drawing.  Using color in drawing is a good option especially when the large number of painting supplies is too expensive, or if you haven’t taken a painting class yet. (in my opinion, painting really is one of those techniques where if you don’t have proper training, and don’t know exactly what supplies to purchase, it really is insufferably difficult to do)

clara-selfportrait-tutorial_001

The self-portrait drawing tutorial demonstrates how to draw a self-portrait from life.  I was surprised that when I looked up “How to draw a self-portrait” on Youtube, that there is no video that shows you how to draw a self-portrait using a mirror.  Every video showed the artist drawing from a photo of themselves.  I found one video where the artist held a mirror in his hand, but didn’t use it.  (why are you holding a mirror if you aren’t going to use it to draw a self-portrait?) I am hoping this tutorial fills a gap-because clearly, there is a huge one when it comes to drawing a self-portrait from life.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

subscribe

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
:iconlyubitshka6:
lyubitshka6 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2016
Hello there, I know how it feels like putting your heart out to the crowds, whether its in painting or writing, and when I show my poems that I express myself in them, and try to explain the pain, I really wish I influence someone out there, because everyone is human and everyone experiences different types of emotions, and you, you defiantly influenced me and your art makes me feel mixed emotions that I cant explain, perhaps I should write a fucking poem about it, cuz your art is just poetic and absolutely beautiful. Some artists draw or paint people or objects that they make it look like a photograph instead of a drawing, and they're good at it but its so damn dull. And that's not the point of art, art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, and anyone who truly understands that knows exactly what art is. Honestly, you disturb me with those pieces of art, you make me feel so many things that my heart starts beating so fast, you might think im exaggerating but its the damn truth, lots of love.
Reply
:iconenigmapsyche:
Enigmapsyche Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Reply
:iconartofjefferyhebert:
ArtofJefferyHebert Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Good Morning Prof. Lieu. I wanted to take a moment and tell you, your journals are a great insight and I enjoy reading them. I look forward to your posts.
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for reading!
Reply
:iconclalepa:
clalepa Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2015  Professional Photographer
Thanks for fav 

I have extended my gallery on FB and I would be very glad if you visit me. Here you have!

www.facebook.com/clalepa

Thanks and regards from Spain,

C
Reply
:iconlisawb:
LisaWB Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2015
I am so drawn to your work, particularly the falling series. When I read your profile, I understand just why it draws me. It is so powerful and evocative and it tells the story of inner demons that I can FEEL with my very depth. These are such profound works. 
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconjghgrh:
jghgrh Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Wow,stunning work,keep at It.
Reply
: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
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