Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Your majesty

As I told you last year, I will not be able to attend your birthday party at April 30. I hope you appreciate my portrait, instead of me singing our national anthem with orange ribbons in my hair...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Year 1 Show

It is over. I gathered some loose ends, helped painting the school and setting up the Year 1 Show and that was it. My first year at Max the Mutt is over. What a year...

Setting up the Year 1 show was a great opportunity to review all student work submitted: there was a lot more work than could be shown at the exposition. The school had a video made, which will be shown at the school's website, I believe that all work will be photographed, and yours truly shot an impression of the opening. For those of you lucky enough to live in the GTA, the show will be open during this week, for opening hours please see the school's website

In the meantime, I will show you some of my personal favorites.

Representational Painting teaches to paint what you see, through a time-consuming process of meticulous scanning and comparing values and colors. Though I had painted before, I had never learned it the proper way, and I really loved this class. Above are shown the main still life and homework paintings from the first semester (black and white) and the second semester (color).

Principles of Drawing teaches the basics of the basics, that is, the systematical construction of a drawing through the careful measuring of distances and angles, using construction lines and plumb lines. Shown are a self portrait, a drapery study and a copy of Dürer's 'Study of the Robes of Christ'.


Beginning life drawing teaches the foundation of life drawing from Kimon Nicolaides' 'The Natural Way to Draw', through exercises that challenge you to perceive the model through all available senses. Above I have shown modeling exercises in Conté and ink, and a compilation of gestures.

Design and composition teaches how to seduce, entertain, charm, guide and teach an audience through the smart use of visual design elements like grids, cantilevers, triangles, curvilinear and color, both through analyzing existing designs in a journal and through applying these principles in new designs. Shown is a color design for a CD cover.

Perspective and Structural Drawing teaches the basics of one-point, two-point, three-point and four-point perspective. This was my least favorite class, probably through a clash with the mathematician inside me and the artistic approach taught here. Above is shown a city scape in three-point perspective.

Color and Water-based Media introduced us to color theory, through Itten's seven color contrasts, and the use of gouache, water color and acrylics. I did not learn a lot new concepts here, just got another opportunity to play with color, which is always welcome. Here I show an exploration in the contrasts of value, complement, hue and simultaneous. 

Also, we had lessons in History of Animation, and Acting and Improvisation. Both were a pleasant experience, but they did not yield anything that I can show here.

This past semester, I received a High Pass for History of Animation, Principles of Drawing, Perspective and Structural Drawing and Representational Painting, and I even got a Pass with Honors for Life Drawing and Color and Water-based Media. It was a good year.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Operation 'Switch' - Finale

I bought a ticket and picked a date, three days before departure, to leave my apartment. It left me a few months to reduce my belongings to something that could be stored and transported to Canada, if needed. That is, no furniture and nothing with a power plug. The clock was ticking.

I put a whole series of advertisements on Marktplaats, and waited for potential buyers. Selling all I had appeared more time consuming and frustrating than I had ever expected, because not only was most of my furniture not worth a dime, but, moreover, the vast majority of prospective buyers was either not serious or downright unreliable. Most of them did not respond to emails, with some I reached an agreement, but they never showed up, and some changed their mind last-minute. There were a number of pleasant surprises which kept me up and running, like the gentleman who bought my nice Stokke Peel fauteuil for €1000, and over the summer I saw my apartment getting emptier and emptier. I kept one option in reserve: the local thrift store was willing to come and get all leftovers.

Two weeks before departure I had a farewell dinner with my family, for whom I had written a book 'Over mijn Schouder' about me and my art, to leave them something personal for the time they would not see me. They loved it. When I arrived in my almost empty home I realized that the final phase of Operation 'Switch' had started. That final week was a killer week.

It started with removing the carpet throughout the apartment. Twelve years earlier I had instructed the men who installed it, to make sure it could be removed easily, because one day I would have to restore the apartment into its original state, and at that day I would no doubt be very busy, in the middle of a removal. I had never expected that these words would ever prove to be prophetical. Neither had the carpeteers, so in my study and bedroom they had glued everything to my concrete floors with their strong super glue. While it had taken me four hours to remove the carpet from my living, where it was glued onto felt-like under-carpet, it took me one day to clear the study, and I did not even have time to clear the bed room.

Two days before I had to leave my apartment I sold my bed and I had a farewell party with friends, and one day before leaving was a day of total madness. The thrift store came to pick up my washing machine, lots of small stuff and my fridge. That is, weeks earlier they had told me they would take it, but that very day, they refused to take it because it was twelve years old. My explanation that I had to completely empty my apartment that day did not impress the men at all. However, when they discovered the small cart I had used to move things around, I told them they could use my cart to move everything down to their van, if they took my fridge, which they finally did. The man who bought my computer arrived at the same time as the man who bought my monitor, so they could both see everything working, and in the evening I sold my car and moved a stack of boxes to a self-storage facility.

The day I had to leave my apartment I first hired a car, and then drove two car loads of trash to the local rubbish dump. It had started to rain so hard that I was soaked by the time I returned, and it appeared to be impossible to load all things I had wanted to bring to my family into the car. And just when I realized I would not make it in time, my landlord called me to apologize he would be late. I accepted his apology and we arranged that I would leave my keys in his office next day.

With one more day to go, I took my time to load the car, clean up the last things, post a few letters and make a few last phone calls. That night, I went to my mother to leave a car load of things like a printer, a vacuum cleaner, a three-piece suit and all other things I had kept for those interested, and the next day I returned the car and the keys of my apartment.

After a real short weekend with my family, it was time to say goodbye and my brother-in-law brought me to my hotel in Amsterdam. The next day I took the bus to the airport, and the rest is history.

Operation 'Switch' had taken more than one year to complete and, to quote Dickens, it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. It exhausted me, physically and psychologically, and it made me realize once more I had turned over a new leaf. A whole new leaf.