Art in the Blood

Whoa, they changed the New Post stuff! This is crazy awesome. Much better than it was before, I think. Unless it’s just me. *shrugs*

Anyway, Writing 101 was supposed to get us into the habit of writing everyday. Clearly, I failed at learning that lesson. I haven’t blogged in almost a week, I think. I wish I could say I’ve been busy with Camp Nano, but no. I’m failing at that too. The only good news is that I set my word count goal at 20k for the month so it’s very doable even if I fall behind for a bit. I tend to write in bursts anyway, usually on weekends. One time for Nanowrimo, I cranked out about 8-10k on a Saturday alone just to catch up. It was grueling and tiresome and it felt like I pulled a horrible all-nighter, but I managed to win by writing 10k+ per weekend. School kept be busy during the week.

I had a good Fourth. Didn’t do much, just relaxed and marathoned Legend of Korra to catch up to the current season, watched some of the World Cup games. I managed to see some friends this weekend and catch up a bit. One of my friends let me experiment with her watercolors just so I could figure those tricky things out and maybe add that to my Artistic List of Things I Need to Learn. In turn, I let her mess around with my Micron pens. I’ve decided to pick up watercolor. I’ve read so much about watercolor this weekend that I’m sick of it lol. I just need to pick a brand, and dive right in and start experimenting. Hopefully, I’ll be able to create a mixed media kind of thing with Pen and Watercolor in the future once I somewhat understand watercolor.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I want to talk about my art teacher who taught me everything I know. Her name was Mrs. Pierce and she was this tiny lady, no more than 4’10” with long wavy brown hair. She was awesome. I had a couple art teachers after she left (she had a baby and then she and her husband moved away :() but they didn’t come anywhere close to the level of excellence as Mrs. Pierce.

I think this all started in Junior High when I took art as a required elective class (it was either that or drama or choir). In there we learned mostly about drawing with pencil/graphite and charcoal. At least that’s all I remember anyway. She taught us about highlights and shadows and still life and how to shade appropriately. It was frustrating and fantastic at the same time. I started seeing the world in a different way. Like how the sun hit certain objects and the shadows it cast or the light it reflected off a metallic surface. It was very messy when we did still life in charcoal. My fingers and clothes were literally covered with black all the time, I’m sure it drove my mom crazy when washing my khakis lol.

She taught us the basics. Start with a sphere, start with a cube/rectangle, then a cylinder. What if the light came from the top? What if it came from the bottom? Or the sides? Then, let’s do a grayscale. Take your pencils and get them as dark as you can to create a gradient. So we learned what H and B meant and how the graphite worked. We learned which erasers were awesome and which were utterly terrible and didn’t do a thing. Ever since then, I don’t bother buying anything that’s not Steadler or Pentel click erasers (and Tuff Stuff).

We learned how to use colored pencils and paint and oil pastels. We learned about color and color wheels and palettes and how to mix colors to get what we wanted. About black and white and how that can change everything. Colored pencils were fun because they were still pencils although it took me a while to understand blending. Oil pastels were fun because of the blending and just the fun colors we could simply create by layering and blending with solvents. Painting was atrocious. I failed so hard at painting. Watercolor, acrylic, it didn’t matter. Once a paint brush landed in my hand, I was doomed to fail. I tried so hard and Mrs. Pierce knew it so she still gave me a decent grade for that unit, but man, my stuff looked worse than a preschooler. No joke. I could mix whatever color you wanted, I could tell you what color you needed to add to get the color you wanted, but I just could not paint.

In high school the beginning art class was strictly drawing, so no painting thank goodness. Since I had her my previous two years in Junior High, she let me and one of my good friends do more advanced stuff during that class. We got to skip all the basics again as she gave us different projects to do. The big project we did was an enormous grid drawing of any picture we wanted. We had to blow it up twice the size, so our grid boxes were 2”x2” instead of the typical 1” boxes. I did a police man with the twin towers in his reflective sunglasses. My friend did a large ice cream sundae that looked like you could lick it off the paper. We spent a majority of the school year doing that as the rest of the class continued on in basics. We still managed a couple little projects I think, but that was our big one.

Made by Me, completed 1/28/2002

Made by Me, completed 1/28/2002

This is it. Sorry it’s not that great of quality or lighting but I took this a few years ago. It’s nowhere close to perfect, especially with my metallic reflections but it’s not bad for a 14 year old kid. Mrs. Pierce is the one that gave me the suggestion of putting the twin towers in the reflection on the sunglasses. In the original picture it was a car. Since 9/11 just happened at the beginning of the school year, I jumped at the chance to do it. It was hard staring at that picture for a long time and trying to get it right in both lenses was a pain, but it was also a good way of letting out all that emotion.

I did other art projects later, with different teachers, but this is the one I’m most proud of. It’s also the last project (that I can remember) that I worked on with Mrs. Pierce. She would come over and tell me that my lines weren’t crisp enough, that I needed to “sharpen my edges” or my blending wasn’t up to par or my blacks weren’t black enough. At times I felt like she was incredibly nit-picky and it drove me absolutely insane, but in the end it helped me. Sometimes she’d fix something in two seconds and make the entire picture look so much better. When I tried to emulate, it took me the entire class period or two before I could get the same effect. We also did our own matting and framing. We had to measure it all out, mount it ourselves and everything. It was great. I don’t know if this is just the whole rose-colored lens deal, but she was the best. She took the time with every student, regardless of their level or skill, and was patient with each one of us, especially me and my friend. We grumbled and complained the entire way through, but we learned.

Seriously, I don’t think I could cover everything that I learned from her. Now that I’m getting back into drawing and art in general, it’s all coming back to me. Even though I’m rusty, the lessons she ingrained into us, into our muscle memory, into our precise vision, has come back. I hope to be a better artist in the near future because of her. And I hope to God I can finally understand how to use a freaking paint brush.

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