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Archive for January, 2012

It’s true: everybody hearts Franklin

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

“What’s your major?”
“Have you taken a class with Franklin Williams?”
“Oh. My God. You have got to take a class with Franklin. He will change your life.”

I have had that conversation in those exact words with at least 10 different people in the last year and a half since I’ve started art school. Basically every student that I’ve encountered at CCA has raved about this man, so it’s no surprise that my expectations for his class were high.

I’ve been wanting “to loosen up” with my art, which is a tough task for a type-A person such as myself. Like, my usual approach to making stuff happen is to write things I need to do on a list and methodically check them off. This approach was obviously not going to work here. What would that list have looked like? 1. Feed cat 2. Make banana bread 3. Loosen up in paintings 4. Put together powerpoint. Imagine trying to take out a kink in a curly phone cord. It just doesn’t seem to take to the free and at-ease shape you have in your mind’s eye.

However, I must say that after my second class with Franklin today, I felt like he delivered. Something seemed to click; some kink had ironed itself out so that my art could flow a little more smoothly. Granted I just got back from vacation and have been making paintings and drawings pretty consistently for the last year and a half, so it’s not entirely his doing, but I felt like something was really working in class today.

My experience with art teachers is that they generally walk around the room spouting advice to students individually. Every student needs a different pearl of wisdom at a different time, so it’s like having a doctor go around the room, giving one person a band-aid for a paper cut, administering a spinal adjustment on another person, or performing a lobotomy on a third. (Yes, art school has the reputation for having harsh critiques at times.) I’ve noticed that when offering critiques, most art teachers generally observe what it is that the student is working towards, and I mean some REALLY FEEL it. Then they offer some tip, usually in the variety of slow down, go lightly at first, take a moment to observe, use your intuition, use more paint, try a different color, make a collage before you start the painting or next time choose a subject matter or object to paint that you absolutely 100 percent are in love with.

Franklin adds another step before he gives his advice, which I’ll call Step 2: “go to a crazy-place.” The crazy-place is different for every student, yet he somehow seems to connect with each person in a deep and meaningful way. I honestly can’t remember what exactly transpired during our journey to the crazy-place today because it was a little hard to follow and I was trying to make sense of it, but it resulted in him suggesting to me that I cut my drawing into pieces to change up (and in some cases abstract) the composition, and then make larger paintings out of those smaller sketches. While other teachers had made this suggestion to me before, and I had thought that it was a nice and lovely idea, he stood over my shoulder and waited for me to pull out my scissors and cut the paper before he left. I had asked if I could just take a picture of my drawing without cutting it, and he said nope, you’ve gotta make the cut. He made me take the risk of ruining the drawing I had spent the class working on, but doing so really helped me see my work in a new light, both the actual art piece as well as the process of working. I’m excited about exploring this new way of working and am posting pictures from class today.

Fall painting at a glance

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I’d like to thank my friends who participated in my painting guessing game last month… but unfortunately no one guessed correctly! The correct answer was painting #4, which I call Oakland Sunset. Most people guessed the horse painting (painting #1), which my classmate Tej Greenhill painted. I’m speculating that everyone was thrown off because I haven’t been diligent about updating my blog and because I really admire the way that Tej paints. Below, I’m posting my paintings from the summer and fall semester. I played around with different subjects, so it feels a little scattered to me, but I’m in the process of figuring out what’s working for making art. Enjoy!