Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teaching and Learning.

Life has been very kind to me lately. Every time I feel like I'm in a rut, something comes along to motivate me. Or perhaps life's always been kind to me; it's just that I'm beginning to notice it more. I haven't got much to update really. Nothing's really changed, at least on the surface. Still studying at Schoolism and as mentioned in my last update, I'm teaching!

Teaching has really given me a whole new perspective on the learning process. A part of me now respects teachers a lot more, and another part of me now greatly disrespects teachers who do not take what they do seriously. In a way, you could say that I also feel a little sorry for them because it's totally their loss. Now I feel like I have this great responsibility for the learning experience of others bestowed upon me. I'm doing revisions of what I already know in order to be sure that I have all my facts right, and I want to be able to give unbiased constructive criticism as well as be encouraging, so that I don't mess up a person's first experience at something. I also feel like wanting to be a good role model for others and this is already making me work at being a better person.

One of my students asked me if I'm planning to teach as a job and charge people for it in the future. Probably not. Our small group is already taking up quite a huge chunk of my time and I don't want to start doing a half-assed job if it gets too much for me to handle. Also, doing it for money (even if just partially) might change things between me and the students. Right now, I actually feel like I'm almost gaining more out of this than my students, so it's been pretty amazing. A little stressful, but amazing.

Other than the whole teaching business, I've been thinking of the arrangement of elements and the design for my room in the new house! Mum's been doing some reading on Feng Shui and we're all banging our heads together trying to figure out something that works. ^^;

Recent Schoolism assignments:

Assignment 6: Painting hair using custom brushes. (A painting of a bald woman was provided by our instructor, Bobby.)

Painting process. (might take a while to load)

This is really my second go at this assignment. I closed the first one without saving it and didn't even realize what I've done until the next day. Gaahhhh. However, I decided to think of it as a chance to make the second one look better than the first and thankfully, I think it does! So... yay for accidents? :D

Assignment 7: Vector and layer styles. Hehe, doesn't he look ridiculous? XD

That's it for now!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Slow Dancing in the Burning Room

The few things that happened in the past few days:-

My White Queen painting became a Daily Deviation.

Uh, wow. That was totally unexpected because honestly, I don't think it's that good. Anyhow, getting a DD is still a pleasant surprise and it's kinda nice to have 24 hours of attention from strangers. Sort of, anyway. Another part of me wants to just delete that deviation. I was staring at the artwork just now and thinking, "The head's too big. The white queen isn't white. The colors are boring. And now it has 8000 views. NOOOOooooo."

My sister shared a video with me.

This one moved me to tears. Beautiful dance, incredible connection between the dancers, wonderful music and just heartbreaking lyrics. I thought I wasn't going to cry when I watched it the 2nd time, but I did. Same thing happened the 3rd time. And 4th. Have I mentioned before that I love crying? It's the best kind of emotional release.

Perhaps the reason why this dance/song affects me so deeply is because I've been in a painful on-off relationship before. It's one of those relationships where you feel like you're always hurting each other, you know deep down that it's never going to work out and you don't quite know why you don't want to call it quits. Love? You'll have to pay attention to the lyrics to understand.
It's not a silly little moment
It's not the storm before the calm
This is the deep and dying breath of
This love we've been working on

Can't seem to hold you like I want to
So I can feel you in my arms
Nobody's gonna come and save you
We pulled too many false alarms

We're going down
And you can see it too
We're going down
And you know that we're doomed
My dear, we're slow dancing in a burning room

I was the one you always dreamed of
You were the one I tried to draw
How dare you say it's nothing to me
Baby, you're the only light I ever saw

I'll make the most of all the sadness
You'll be a bitch because you can
You try to hit me just to hurt me
So you leave me feeling dirty
Because you can't understand

We're going down
And you can see it too
We're going down
And you know that we're doomed
My dear, we're slow dancing in a burning room

Go cry about it, why don't you?
My dear, we're slow dancing in a burning room

Don't you think we oughta know by now?
Don't you think we shoulda learned somehow?
Song: Slow Dancing in the Burning Room by John Mayer
Choreography: Wade Robson
Dancers: Ben Susak and Pam Chu

I didn't win the Draw-a-Robot contest.
I saw the winning entry and I love it. Was kinda bummed when I saw the 2nd and 3rd though. Those were pretty good too but were completed wayyy before the competition even existed. So technically, they didn't actually do anything for the competition. Oh well. At least Sonny sent me a note telling me that one of the judges, Charlene Chua, really liked mine. That meant something to me. I'm also happy that I had something to push me to paint something I've never tried painting before.

Completed Schoolism Assignment 5 + Extra painting.

Assignment 5: Painting using the smudge tool.


I'm very very pleased with how this one turned out. A friend commented, "What a beautiful woman." Another person on deviantART said, "Hrmm...just looks like a guy to me." Well, yay!

I wanted to put up a gif animation to show my painting process but the file size turned out too huge. I tested it out and it took forever for all those frames to load. Sorry about that, guys!

I'm teaching.

I'm teaching a small group of beginners (friends) to paint digitally. This is a free, private class and I'm very excited to see what they'll come up with. I was never interested in teaching until recently. It all started when I tried helping a classmate from Schoolism with his assignments. I provided critique and sometimes paintovers whenever he was stuck. I then discovered that I really like helping people learn how to paint. That feeling you get when you see someone you've helped improve is amazing. So, thank you Slow and Silly Very Old Frogapillay Jon-Troy Nickel! *sucks in air* That's one long name.

Click me why don't you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My drive to learn.

I was never a hardworking student when I was in art school. Out of 10 assignments, I probably did 7 - just enough to pass that course. Well actually, I failed twice and had to retake the subjects. I only put my heart into my work if I found that particular assignment interesting. Most of the time, it didn't matter so much if the art looks good or not; I was satisfied as long as my work was in the range of "above average" within the limits of my class.

I had a classmate who was excessively hardworking and always did more than required for his assignments. I never understood it. I had a lot of respect for him though (I still do), because he was always very focused and his passion for learning was obvious. At the time, I thought... "Well, that's him. I simply don't have that kind of self-control and I don't see the point."

My instructors never really liked me, naturally. From what I know, art teachers have high regard for students who took learning seriously regardless of their skill level. They find students that are already able to draw better than most of their peers but lack the desire to aim for more frustrating. I've had a couple of instructors at art school that sat me down and told me, "Ciaee, you have potential. All we need is your hard work." At that moment it might have made me feel a little bad for letting them down, but I never realized that I was being stupid for not making full use of my opportunity at art school to learn. I never asked myself the important question, "What am I doing here in art school?" I love art. Why was I in art school? To learn, to improve, to really get some solid art foundation. If I had laid this out so clearly back then, I would have taken my classes a lot more seriously.

For simplicity, let's think of "talent" as an ability to pick up a certain something/skill and excel at it faster than most people. Everyone is "talented" at different levels, at different things. Some people might think of "talent" as a gift from God. That may be true, but to me "talent" is probably something that came from being unconsciously trained at something in a certain environment a person was brought up in. I'm not ultra-talented or anything like that but I seem to be able learn new drawing/painting techniques a little faster than most of my peers.

"Talent" is as much a blessing as it is a curse. There are two types of "talented" people. Few realize their potential and know that they can achieve great things. Highly ambitious, they sought after their goals without any regard for the limits and boundaries society creates. Others, notice that they perform better than others without trying very hard at all and get used to that. Why work hard when it's all so easy? Pretty soon, they will start falling behind their peers deluded by feelings of superiority and not working hard. Because "talent" can only take one so far in the immensely competitive world of today, hard work, ambition, vision, and passion matter so much more. That extra hour, that extra research, that extra initiative to learn from critiques, ...etc. Those add up to a lot more than mere "talent."

On my graduation day (from art school), I felt like I didn't achieve anything at all. That piece of paper meant absolutely nothing to me. Well, I did learn a couple of things along the way, but I didn't get that, "I did it! I worked hard and I've come this far" feeling. When I started to take freelance jobs, there was this constant battle going on in my head. I could do these jobs, but they were pretty unsatisfying. I didn't like what I was doing, really. Since I didn't like them, I tried to think of these jobs as "assignments I'm learning from". Learning in a very unsystematic way too. I had no focus on what to improve on, didn't know which part of my skills I really needed work on, and so on. I was just following the art director's instructions. And most of the time, these aren't really critiques. These are just the art director's preferences or his vision for the artwork. And the pay was... pretty bad. I have a very supportive and encouraging agent/project manager though. (Stephen, if you ever read this... thanks for being awesome! *mega-glomp*)

After a while, I put my freelance stuff aside and started to take online classes. Ever since I've been really really driven to improve. Scarily, crazily, obsessively driven. Maybe it's because I'm looking at the entire industry as my "classmates" now. When I looked back at my art schooling days, I feel a little silly. I had too many excuses for not working hard. The art school that I went to did not have a good learning environment, some teachers there were below par in terms of artistic skills and (especially) teaching skills, and we had a lot of assignments that were impractical, in a sense that they would've been useful maybe 8 years ago, but not for the industry today. Obsolete syllabus. But also, there were a handful of teachers who were really dedicated, and I could see a few (very rare though) students improving quite dramatically. If I had taken learning seriously back then, how good or bad the school is wouldn't have mattered so much because I would've made it a point to somehow learn from every assignment I did.

Now I give my all for each and every one of my online class assignments, and on top of that hand in an extra piece using the techniques learned from the lessons if I have time to spare. I'm working hard to improve to a level that's good enough to have my artwork included in EXPOSÉ 7. This my current goal.

It took me a bit of courage to reveal all that. Daddy and Mummy, if you're reading this... your daughter is working hard now! Um, I'll get back some of the money's worth you dumped into my art education. ><

To wrap up this entry, here's my latest artwork. It's also an entry for the Liquid City Giveaway Draw-A-Robot Contest. [List of entries]


Fish-cyborg painting progress.
(A grossly simplified portrayal of my grueling 20+ hours on the fish)