Category Archives: education
In my teaching work, students occasionally ask me what books I would recommend for learning more about art-making. I say “occasionally” because I find the majority of young people allergic to the printed word and perplexed by the concept of independent learning. (Sigh.) So, in honor of you curious students of art, I’ve compiled some rough reading lists. (Also, there are lots of films, because film is a brilliant medium for learning about visual disciplines.)
FOR DRAWING: The practice of drawing is a terrible thing to try to learn from a book, but once in a while authors explain ideas well, or publish beautiful illustrations that demonstrate real seeing. The Natural Way to Draw, by Kimon Nicolaides; The Practice and Science of Drawing, by Harold Speed; Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards; and Die Gestalt des Menschen, by Gottfried Bammes
FOR PAINTING: Again, only painting will teach you painting. Hawthorne on Painting, by Mrs. Charles Hawthorne; The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri; and maybe What Painting Is, by James Elkins. Also, the film El Sol de Membrillo will blow your mind.
ART HISTORY/THEORY: General Textbooks are a necessary evil. Also, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, by Sylvan Barnet. Afterward you can go very deep very quickly. Here are some suggestions:
Ancient: Ancient Art History and Ancient Regular History aren’t that different. Art History does more with formal analysis, but this area is mostly about knowing how cultures interact and make things to reflect their ideas and values. I like the Crash Course videos for fun overviews with a few insights. I also like Jared Daimond’s approach found in Collapse, and Guns, Germs, and Steel.
Medieval and Renaissance: Read Genesis, The Gospel of Luke, and Revelations. They are shorter than you think, and account for 80% of the imagery in Christian art. Seriously, DO IT. Vasari’s Lives of the Artists is like a fun trip into pre-modern art history, full of inaccuracy, moralizing, and other bad habits of scholarship. For really good scholarship on this period, read anything by Erwin Panofsky, but especially Studies in Iconology. Also Dürer’s The Painter’s Manual is arguably the first modern textbook in the areas of art and design.
Early Modern/Modern: Aside from dry textbooks and the wealth of primary source literature from this period, I like John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard, and the PBS series, Art21 . Terry Barrett’s Criticizing Art is good for understanding theory and has thankfully replaced its hideous cover. I also recommend reading monographs, exhibition catalogs, journals, essays, and interviews BY or ABOUT any artists that interest you.
DESIGN: Yes, designers! Beyond whatever your actual design instructors tell you to read, I recommend many of the preceding titles, especially Collapse, but also Carol Cragoe’s How to Read Buildings, Bill Mollison’s Introduction to Permaculture, the films of Gary Hustwit, or about 75% of the talks on TED. I also strongly recommend Ken Robinson’s books on creativity, like Out of Our Minds.
This list is by no means complete or systematic, but is mostly a blend of things I read when I was a student that still affect me or things I wish my students had read. Also, I linked to Amazon like crazy, but I encourage you to find these titles at your local libraries, used, or independent bookstores. Reviews? Comments? Additions?
Beginning in the summer of 2010, I have been inviting friends, neighbors, and other artists into my space for single-session portraits. I paint each person in the space of an afternoon, usually over coffee, simultaneously conversing with a friend and abstractly studying their face. This work has been an immensely satisfying part of my practice and I am very excited to show these paintings en masse.
We’ll have an opening reception on Friday, May 4th, which will feature dozens of paintings, a few of their subjects, and a TACO TRUCK. That’s right, my opening will have a taco truck.
I will also be running two artist workshops on portrait painting May 12th and May 19th. The Vashon Island workshops will include all materials and tools, live models, and catered lunch. Details here.
April 13th is Seattle Art Museum’s Teen Night Out. This free event features access to the SAM’s galleries, live performances, and art-making with Seattle Artists. (Think: SAM Remix for minors.) In honor of the final month of Gauguin & Polynesia, this spring’s event will feature a Tahitian dance troop, Polynesian tattoo, and hands-on art with local artists. I’ll be there leading live figure drawing, and steadfastly avoiding getting any tattoos. Heads up, teens. Come draw with me.
PS, young readers- Miss this event, and all the cool art kids will think you’re a square. Miss this Gauguin show, and live a sadder, darker life.
This Friday night I’ll be at the Seattle Art Museum to lead a teen sketching trip through Gauguin Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise. The show has some excellent paintings and prints from Gauguin’s years in the Pacific, and some beautiful 19th century Polynesian artwork. We’ll trace Gauguin’s creative journey by sketching from the same objects that inspired him, then work from Gauguin’s paintings and drawings. (including one of his sketchbooks!) Then we’ll head downstairs for some figure drawing from live models. Registration is closed for this free program, but I’ll be back soon. Teens, and people who work with them, should check in with the SAM to find out about more great programs and resources.
I’ve got a portrait in the silent auction at Gage Academy of Art’s Collector’s Gala tonight. Lots of beautiful artwork is up for bid, and all sales benefit Gage’s programs. Gage is an outstanding organization that is serious about supporting artists. If you’ll be attending the black tie event in Seattle, I recommend this, but local tastes might suggest this number.
If you’re not attending the Gala, you can check out the catalog, and you can even bid remotely in the silent auction! My work is #S308
This Saturday, December 3rd, marks Gage Academy’s 12th annual Drawing Jam. From 9am to 9pm, three floors of art studios are open with costumed and nude models, drawing supplies, live music and food.
For my teen friends, I’ll be giving life drawing tips and a brief demo in the “Teen Studio” from 2-3pm. Come by and draw with me! For my adult friends, I’ll be around and drawing most of the day, eagerly awaiting Sierra Stinson‘s “Gage Artist Happy Hour.” See you there!
My friends at Devil’s Postpile National Monument asked for some help designing a new badge for the park’s Junior Ranger Program. This program engages kids and youth with the ecology or geology of different National Parks. When the kids finish the program, they earn a badge for their achievement. I used to do these programs on family vacations. The old ones were shiny plastic badges with bison on them. (This sounds way cooler than they actually were.)
For the new one, I based my design on the postpile, a giant formation of six-sided basalt columns. The shape of the columns dictated the hexagonal format and the use of stripes throughout. I wanted a strong diagonal and several layers of space. Also, designing for embroidery machines dictates a limited palette of flat color, in this case, six. Working with this limitation reminded me of an earlier NPS project.
If you’re up in the Sierra Nevadas, make sure to visit the park and get one!