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back to school

      Classes started up again and I was ready for what was to come. I think I even brought my drawings from the break to show my teacher and he got a real kick out of them. So then we got our first assignment, a story taken place in the south I don't know how many years ago about a lynching on a black man who was a suspect for a crime. It was one of those stories where he was supposed to receive a fair trial but the townspeople just wanted to kill him. I think I did an o.k. job. For what the assignment was, I think I made it interesting, colorful and well thought out. I don't mean to sound full of myself, but I thought it wasn't bad. Hell, it was a lot better than the rest of the stuff I was doing. It had nice composition, interesting shapes, it was colorful and exciting and you still got a sense of mood from the drawing.
      Next up, another assignment. This time, a story based on a mental patient and some of the things he went through in an institution. I don't remember the whole thing, but this is kind of what I got out of it. Again, I thought it worked. I was happy with the way it turned out, and around this time, I started getting into arguments with other people about whether the art looks "perfect" with every little detail, or if details and perfection weren't as important as getting your point across of what you're trying to say. I think my artwork holds it's own, and yes, even though I don't work on details or perfection in certain ways, I'm still anal retentive enough about other parts where it will work out "just right". I think it's just works out to my own definition of "perfection". (so I sound like an art fag, big deal).
      The next few assignments were either hits or misses. I think they were actually better than worse and I really felt I had something going for me. I don't know exactly where I came up with this kind of style, it might of actually been influenced by Keith Haring, although I remember a teacher mentioning it was similar to some guy named Mark Kostabi ?, I think. This assignment's theme was to describe an emotion. I think I got it.
      Now this drawing on the right, is my absolute favorite of all the pastel and charcoal work to date, and if not, it's a real close second. Assignment theme : describe an obsession. I just love the feel of that giant pencil the guy in the center is holding and for the longest time I wanted to build one out of paper mache'. It just looks so colorful and fun. I loved this drawing so much, that I was bold enough on my mother's recommendation to enter it into a contest at our town library where it would be judged upon next to still life watercolors of fruits, paintings of lighthouses, drawings of birds, Bob Ross rip-offs and yes, I even saw a Star Wars painting. How did I do ? Well...guess who didn't win ? That's right, somebody's Bob Ross or painting of a seagull flying over a lighthouse won over my pastel drawing. I don't think they even looked at my drawing. Whatever...I didn't want their stupid prize anyways, or their recognition.
      It was also about this time, when my teacher from school was getting a better look at my artwork. A lot of people thought they were oil paintings. I was spraying these things with real heavy coats and giving them as much as 5 to 6 sprays. When my teacher realized that it was pastels, he asked me if I was getting proper ventilation while spraying these with crystal clear. ( I wasn't). He said, "You see how shiny this layer of spray is on your drawing ? Well, that's what your lungs are going to look like."

next school year

      Classes had started again, it was not my last year. The teacher I wanted had cancelled out of the course and they chose another teacher to do the class. This guy was one of those who painted "every little detail", and I just didn't get along with him. I don't know if it was that I wasn't motivated, or I just wasn't pulling out any great work, maybe it even was the fact that I was somewhat conscious about what my last teacher said about what my lungs were looking like with all that pastel dust and the crystal clear spray. It just wasn't working. I think the only decent piece I got out of that semester was one for Franz Kafka's story titled "The Metamorphosis". Great story, but I think I only came up about halfway on the art.
      I think for the most part, I just didn't get anything out of that semester and what I concentrated on was my own artwork at home. I tried to see if I could still get back to the basics of what I wanted to call attention to in my drawings and make them work. As for how they came out, well...interesting, I guess, but overall pretty bland.
      If anything, this was probably one of the drawings that stuck out from anything else. I'm not sure exactly what it was about or where it came from, apart from the obvious. I knew I was going downhill again as far as ideas and my artwork and I made the effort to get my old teacher back for my last semester and have him as an independent study/portfolio course. I think it was the right choice.

independent study

      I don't remember every assignment from independent study, granted it was only a semester long, but between having sketches for one week and a finish for the next, I came up with 3 different assignments I found. The first one was the most interesting I think. The theme: "sex". That was it. I think it was kind of an exploratory assignment based on the word and what I came up with as different aspects of it.
      I don't have a problem with sex, but I usually felt people who did artwork on sexual topics just didn't have anything better to do. This stemmed from my one year as a cartooning major where everything was a dick or vagina joke. It grew so tiresome and there was absolutely no talent in that arena of cartoonists. That's one of the reasons why I changed majors to illustration.
      So, about this "sex" assignment. Well, what can I say, I had to do research. I think a lot of it is just ideas from what you hear about and see in movies of what some things are supposed to be like. I think I remember hearing how all these powerful businessmen in high positions love to get the shit kicked out of them. Thinking about how dark of a subject it could be but yet find some part of it that just makes it look beautiful. I think I kind of got that with the shape of the "slave" person here. I guess that's why some people think of bondage as being so erotic.
      Still on the same "sex" theme, I started thinking about before and after I think, which led me to this next one. The reaction or consequence to sex. You know it was that same position that got this girl here. But in any case, it has a very laboratory/experimentation feel to it. I almost don't believe that woman is pregnant, but I do love the shape of that big fat belly. I don't know, I think that doctor might be a "chubby chaser". I don't recall any other assignment from the semester as much as this one because I think this one just had something about it that made it very intriguing, interesting, somewhat clean or sterile and yet harmless. As dark as these drawings were, they kind of made me feel good.
      This next one is pretty interesting. When my teacher gave me this assignment, he described his example. He asked me, "have you ever been in a nudie booth?", (kind of like, "have you ever been in a turkish prison?), to which I responded no. He then went into complete detail about what a nudie booth was like. Uh... I'm not sure what my reaction was at the time, but it was like, "pervert", I don't want to hear about my teacher getting his rocks off. In any case, I didn't do the research on this part, but I took his word for it. I guess I once again tried to capture the seedy dark undertone of the peepshow, (yeah, like there's a positive side), and I hate to say it, but it is also one of my favorites. I did do a lot more drawings on the topic, and what I was actually proud of was I think I really delivered on the idea without getting filthy or having to draw penises everywhere. To this day, I haven't got the slightest clue what a nudie booth or peepshow is like, (but is a lapdance the same idea?).
        O.K., enough sex, we can always talk about it later when we're alone.
      One time, my teacher allowed me a free project. I think he just ran out of ideas but he left it up to me on what I wanted to do. I thought it would be funny to do these bald faceless figures in a hair salon getting a hair cut. Just the irony of the whole thing, but I guess it was more of an inside joke in a way, you'd only get it if you saw the rest of my pastel pieces. I went along with it anyway, as silly as it was. It didn't work out as I had hoped and it wasn't as funny as I anticipated. (no one understands my sense of humor).
      Every year, the school puts together a book of student's artwork from that year. Usually, the aim is to get your piece on the cover of the book. Every year, it goes by number as per edition, 10, 11, 12, 13, etc. The year I was graduating was # 14. I'm not sure what compelled me, but I thought it would be hysterical to have some guy going on an interview showing an art director his portfolio, and the whole portfolio is just page after page of numbers. (no one understands my sense of humor). I thought it was funny, genius even, yet simple. Well, to no surprise, it was not chosen. I'm not sure exactly who won the cover, I think it might of been one of those kids who paint everything perfectly, every little detail, every eyelash...yeah, whatever.
      I believe this was the last pastel drawing I did while in school, and actually the last one I've done since. I think I just got burned out from the work, the pastel dust, the spray, I guess the health issues made me think about it a little more. I remember working a little more on watercolors or color pencils after that. But that was the end of the ride that pastels took me on.

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