Tuesday, June 16, 2020

One More Time

Recently my brother came up with a plan to start storing things in the shed in my parents' back yard, for when he brought his family to town, and to that beach.  The problem is that the shed is quite full. Some of the stuff belonged to my grandfather, who left it behind when he sold them the house.  This includes an interesting selection of insecticides, considered very effective in their day, now completely illegal.  We don't use them, but disposing of them is complicated enough that we haven't dealt with it yet.  Taking up more space are a lot of lawn and garden supplies and tools, some of which are used quite often, usually by me, as my parents are no longer of the age or physical temperament to spend much time in the yard.  I also have used the shed to store some art related materials, since I have no other place to put them.  Mostly still life objects, nothing that couldn't handle being in a sheltered outdoor setting.  No problem the past few months when no one else was going out there.   But now there is more demand.

My brother has been there a few times in the past week, helping to reorganize the space, disposing of things he left behind when he lived there, etc.  One thing I have had there for the past few years is my portable spray booth. Don't know where the idea of having white painted objects came from- it seems like a basic part of any drawing class.  Still life involves learning to render three dimensional objects in their setting, and white painted objects work well for this. Take out the local color (colors on the surfaces of objects), and just deal with the light and shadows over the surface, which reveal the form. Where I got the idea to start using plastic beverage containers I am not sure, but I have made use of them for in teaching drawing for years. Turns out that the plastic bottles that milk and orange juice come in are more complex than people realize- I don't know whether it's an accident or the designers are demented geniuses.  All kinds of planes, curves, and angles are left behind when they are just painted white.  Used them at my colleges, and in my recent drawing classes in Ocean Grove.  When the paint peels or wears away, I just paint some new ones.  I also make use of cereal boxes, as well as my supply of glass bottles, vases, old tools, and other interesting objects.

The problem is whether I will need any of these things in the future. Some students love learning these basic concepts. I've had non-artists observers in my class room on a day when we were drawing shoes (very basic contour line exercise) and I gave them a pencil and some paper so they could keep busy, and then have received emails later telling me they went home and drew more shoes, excited to learn that they could.  I have had a student tell me they took my basic drawing class a second time because after trying all the other teachers at that school, I was the only one teaching "real drawing".  I have had students get excited to realize how they could use contours and negative space to draw a complex still life. I've been told a few times by students that it was worth it to travel a far distance to work with a real live artist, and not just a computer.   On the other hand, I've also been told by some students that drawing shoes, and learning negative space are just too hard.  (these are not art majors) In recent years, colleges have worked to eliminate anyone with any kind of academic training from any part of the decision making process, favoring having "business" types in charge who have no knowledge of any of the subjects being taught, or any teaching experience whatsoever.  They would much prefer to buy education from a corporate source, rather than have people who actually know what they don't, teaching it.  The whole covid pandemic thing hasn't helped, forcing the closing of many places where art was still being taught, and scaring many seniors (a big audience for this kind of stuff) into staying home and hiding.

I've been an adjunct professor for 15 years, so I'm used to a certain amount of uncertainty- sometimes we don't know our schedules until school starts, and the school could change its mind then- that's why they prefer adjuncts. But right now the school doesn't know what it want to do. One email tells us that no classes will be pushed to be online.  Another tells us that all classes will be online.  One tells us we have to take a training to be hired, another tells us they will not require the training.  There may be a deadline for next week, but they won't tell us what needs to be done. (my opinion is that if the pandemic continues to rage, and the economy continues to struggle, there may not be a college or students to go to it, but who knows what happens between now and the beginning of fall classes?)

Knowing not much, I decided to use my portable cardboard box spray paint booth one more time to paint white objects.  Use up the can of paint I had going, paint a collection of containers I had stored in the shed, recycle the box, and set them all aside in case I need them again, whenever that is.

So down in Manasquan today, I did just that. I was also there to mow the lawn, and do some laundry, but I got in one more spray painting session, just in case I need more of these things in the near future.  Left them in the shed to dry overnight (and be free of the spray painting fumes), and tomorrow I'll pick them up, combine them with the painted ones I already had, dispose of the beat up old cardboard box, and move on to the next task.


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