Artless - Roland Berning - 3rd class (part 2)

I also worked on some pen and black ink drawings of the same photo. Discovering that less is more, and black is merciless. Hands are sooo difficult, and sometimes ink will make big, black stains...

But I also discover an ability to play with facial expressions. And I love doing that. For now can't get enough of the sad faces...

To be continued.

Artless - Roland Berning - 3rd class

This is the self portrait I finished for my mother's birthday. It's me, age 3, very scared and very sad when my photo was taken by a photographer at preschool.

I spent a nice fall afternoon in the garden with the canvas and my paint and brushes. After three hours of painting it was like I kept seeing new elements, the light above the upper lip, and on the tip of the nose.

As you can see, I focused mostly on the face. The hair and the jacket could have used some more concentration. Teacher seemed to be pleased with my progress and encouraged me to use a bigger canvas next time. My work reminded him of the work of American painter Karen Kilimnik, which I find quite flattering.


Artless - Roland Berning - 2nd class

Only a short session for me tonight. There's been some stress at the kids school lately and there's a conference about it tonight. I don't want to miss my entire class for it, so rush over to the East for just an hour.

The assignment for tonight was to choose the cover of a magazine and change something about it. I chose the cover of Time Out Amsterdam because of all the letters (and the fact that we had several lying around the house and it would not matter if I would cut up one). I was wondering what would happen to the lay out and the information if I would cut away all the letters. I started doing this one by one, but as some letters where really small, I feared I would still be at it by Christmas 2011. I decided to cut the letters away in boxes.

The result speaks for itself. Leaving the shape of some letters still intact, the content of the magazine is still understandable. Visually I am quite drawn to the upper right side. I love the irregularity.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see what the others had made with the assignment, because I had to rush off. So I didn't get an other perspective on my own work. It was an interesting little job, that required dedication and concentration, and a willingness to go with a conceptual idea, and work it out till the end.

To be continued.


Artless - Roland Berning - 1st class

First class starts with an introduction round. How I keep hating this. Never know what to say in a few minutes about myself. There is too much to tell. Much happier when we move on to our work.

Teacher asked us to bring something we've been working on recently. I have been fascinated by faces for a while now. Worked with charcoal and ink last year, now I think I am ready for paint. I had made a beginning of my children a while ago, but never finished it. A month ago I picked it up again with the intention of making a likeness of my children. But as the work proceeded, I got frustrated with the look on their face and decided to make two fantasy figures. My children are happy children, these two had a strange look that I could not bend. I just had to go with their sad expression.

Teacher seems really interested, and gives a great deal of attention to my work. I am getting good feedback. He encourages me to really look how a a face is constructed and work with a model, or a photo. There's nothing wrong with that, lots of artists work from photo's. It will teach me to investigate what is really there. He says that my paintings can not be qualified a naive art because it misses some sort of concentration. I could work on that too, but for now I should focus on reality and just see what happens.

He wants me to continue the half finished painting of myself I also brought to show, with the help of the original photo.

Each student in the class gets his full attention. It is very inspiring to look at each others work and hear what teacher has to say about it. He is making comparisons with lots of modern artists, so part of my homework will be to look those up, as I am not familiar with most of them.

To be continued.


Artless - Intake

Together with my friend - from Waldorf school and Gerrit Rietveld Academy - I drive to the East side of Amsterdam with a car full of 'art.' Tonight we have been invited to show some of our work to the teachers of Artless.

Artless is a foundation that provides classes for people that are not able to attend a real education in art, either because they were not admitted or because they cannot afford the tuition or dedicate the required time. I kind of fit in both categories. Most teachers are working visual artists and teachers at Gerrit Rietveld Academy.

My friend and I are present at each others evaluations. I am shocked at the harshness and directness of the teachers' judgment of her work. She makes really cute and interesting drawings and allowed herself to experiment drawing with needle and wool. They called her restricted. I relive the horrible moments of last year, where what I made sometimes was judged as rubbish, therapy and not renewing at all. I fear the worst for this showing.

But... the teacher who evaluates my work is actually impressed. Compares some of my photographs with Inez van Lamsweerde! My jaw drops a few inches! He holds up one of the Beatrixes I made last year for the admission exams at Rietveld and finds it very interesting. Whoa!

But where my friends work seems to be restricted, my work is too much of everything. It goes in every direction and could use some focus. Bottom line: we are very welcome to come study at Artless. But we leave the premises a little flabbergasted and not sure if we are ready for another year of harsh judgments.

To be continued.


Expo O-JAAR @ Sugar Factory Night Gallery

The Orientation Year at Rietveld Art School might be over, but we are not done! Coming up I am organising a expo with a selection of the work we have made in the past year. We = Group B of the O-Year. It's been such a pleasure to work together that we decided to prolong this a little longer. Above you can see a collage of parts of our work, that Mariejem (and I ) have illustrated to become one piece of art. This will be used for the monthly poster of Sugar Factory. During the month of July you will be able to view our art in the Night Gallery and in the Foyer.
Next up is the making of a communal mural with the theme 'Creatures of Discomfort.'
To be continued.


GRA - Admission exam

Well, this pretty much sums up my admission exam. What was I thinking?


GRA - Consultation hour

It sounds more friendly than it is. Consultation hour. You get half an hour to hang up a selection of your work in a class room. Two teachers will walk in and have a look at it, while asking you questions. All that is missing is a spot light on your face. Then they leave you to anguish for about five minutes, before coming back to give you their final verdict. To go through or not to through to the next level. Some people are told they just don't have it, some hear they are too much and some are too young, some too old...

What happened with me? Well, I had a dream earlier in the year that I missed the consultation hour and therefore I didn't make it through. So I got there very early in the afternoon by car. I had all the time in the world to carry everything upstairs without breaking out in a sweat. I figured out where my room was and left all my works by the door. Then I had plenty of time to help the others. Some arrived late and very nervous. It was nice to feel calm instead and help them set up their room. It took my mind of my own nerves. I knew that I was going to be judged by the teacher who had been so harsh to me in the beginning of the year. When I found out, I tried to switch with another student, but she was afraid to jinx her own admission. In retrospect, I thought it would be interesting to end this cycle of classes with the first and most critical teacher. Time to face my fears. Would I be strong enough to deal with her rejection? Yes I would. I decided to see the consultation hour as an opportunity for me to display all the work from one year, and to just feel proud of this accomplishment, no matter what judgment I would get.

The teachers walked around, asked critical questions, like 'how do you feel about an assignment?', 'are you able to deal with criticism?' and ''tell us something about this penis, and why it is hanging there so prominently?'.

I mostly tried to express my happiness to have chosen to do this orientation year. It has brought me much. New insights about my work, and myself. I never knew most good things happen while you’re not paying attention. So now I can stop trying so hard!

They left me alone in the room, to deliberate about my fate. It was tempting to think the worst, but I didn’t. Instead I looked out of the window and saw the blue sky, the trees, the clouds... And all was good, right here, in that moment.

The teachers had doubts about me as an artist. Making art at Rietveld is no personal therapy. It is not about what I learn as a human being, it’s only about what I am communicating to the world and how I do that. But they want to give me the benefit of the doubt and let the admission committee of DOGtime decide about my suitability for Rietveld Art School.

Nevertheless, I am happy to have passed the first hurdle. Harsh teacher was not so harsh after all. There was no review of my work however. And I still don’t know how they are really judging it.


Homework 2

Imre and Ila.

Frida Kahlo.

Job Cohen.


GRA - 1st class design

A new series of classes, a new teacher. We introduce ourselves by telling her and the group what book we are reading at the moment. I am currently reading a biography of Diane de Poitiers (mistress of Henri II) and Catherine d'Medici (The Serpent and the Moon). The way I describe the book makes it sound like it's a romantic novel and I feel stupid that I wasn't able to convey to the class that I am reading a well written research about court life in the 17th century. It is so inspiring to read about femininity, power, politics, freedom, war, etc. While reading I feel an enormous need to explore the images that come up in my head. Of course I don't give in to this need, but at least I have made notes about the most striking things for me, like noble women wearing black velvet masks when they would go riding, the use of symbols and letters and colors to mark the rein of the king (and his mistress). The need to identify oneself with gods and goddesses of Greek mythologies, the ongoing traveling from castle to castle, the rebuilding of old and new properties, the royal children that were 'kept' in special castles, away from the parents, with their own household staff, the marrying off of princesses, often young children, to form alliances, sending them off to foreign countries to be raised there without their parents, to rivalry between heirs... More than enough to keep me busy for a long time...

Anyway, today we talk about design. Teacher explains that at Rietveld we do research, and try to find solutions. We look at form, object and image. A lot of time is spent discussing the work.
An assignment is a motivation to start the research. It's all about an authentic research process. We are trying to communicate with form and research different point-of-views. At Rietveld we work unconsciously and we evaluate consciously.

Our first assignment is to make a portable object that connects moving body parts. The material is paper. Research of the material is part of the assignment.

With every assignment, I try to make a corset. I have a thing with corsets. I like the lines of an 18th century one, the way the breasts bulk out of the top. The way they form the torso and force a posture. But also the support they provide. I am intrigued by breathing, hyperventilation, breathing as a technique to deal with pain both physical and mental. A corset makes breathing more difficult. So the movement I want to research is the expanding ribcage in a hard corset. I make some drawings first, but teacher doesn't like that. "Why make something you have already drawn?" she says. Okay, whatever, I'll start making it right away. With carton boxes and elastic bands I make an 18th century look-alike corset. But I get bored. This apparently is not what I want to make. I want to make something fragile. Something that comes from within. So I wet big sheets of paper and feel them disintegrate in my hands. That's the fragility I am looking for. If I would wear this paper I wouldn't be able to breathe freely either, because the paper would tear. So I drape the paper on a torso, glue it a little here and there. And that's it. It's nothing more than that. We discuss it in the group, everybody seems to understand, and afterward I throw it in the garbage bin. Research done, result satisfying.
Part two. At home. A continuation of the assignment. This time I work small and quick. With one piece of toilet paper and some special glue I make a tiny camisole. The glue makes it look wet and transparent and fragile. With the inside of the toilet paper roll I try to make the hard corset. Teacher gives a good evaluation, "toilet paper has become something new, it's not toilet paper anymore." The hard corset is not there yet. So have to keep working on that. Or not.


GRA - last class drawing

Communal project this time with black ink. It's fun to do. What I enjoy most is to wet the paper and let drops fall. I should have filmed the movement of the ink, but I didn't. I feel like a kid today. Playing with water and ink. My results are so-so, but I like the pictures I take of everybody's work.


GRA - 5th class drawing

We work with pitch black ink today. A lovely class again. We get to try out everything we want and get lots of encouragement along the way. Teacher hands out postcards to give us a beginning again. My flowers are a disaster (so no pictures) but I sure do enjoy making portraits.

We talk a lot again about the upcoming admission exams. Who wants to apply? I wish we wouldn't talk about it so much. What does it matter? I want to produce, and discover, and just create. I am torn about these admission exams. I am pretty sure I won't be able to combine my life as it is right now with 4 evenings per week of intense classes and homework. I wouldn't be able to take my kids to bed most of the time. It's not always my favorite time of the day, but it is important and I have learned to appreciate it, especially the talks I have with my oldest before she goes to sleep. Teacher has advised me to consider Artless, which is taught by academy teachers but is much less hours per week.

The feedback I get on my homework from last week (A4 drawings) is interesting. Teacher likes what she sees and notices that every drawing is unfinished. That in itself makes nice series. She just would like to see me make more of them. I am quite touched by this revelation. I don't have to finish my work for it to be interesting. Hooray! Because I hate finishing projects, I get bored! And here they find it interesting and not boring. I love this school. Please let me stay another year!


GRA - 4th class drawing

So much fun today. Teacher Carin is back, and oh, she is so nice. Encouraging, friendly, calm. Today we draw... dogs. She brings postcards of dogs to class, and all we have to do is draw. Left, right, blind. Crayon, charcoal, Conté. We can add texture to the drawings, things we find in the building. And the assignment for next week is to make some more, of different subjects and then make a small exhibition to prepare for the big admission exams in april...


GRA - Open Day

A selection of our work is on display in the basement. I am there part of the day to represent the Orientation Year and I get to talk to potential new students about the ins and outs. Lots of young people with their parent, who sometimes confuse me with the teacher (ahum). It's nice to talk to strangers about what we're doing here. And to hear myself explain what it means to me. This school is not about painting a pretty picture, or mastering a technique, it's about finding authenticity in your work and about questioning what you make and why you make it. My big discovery so far is that the best things happen while I wasn't paying attention. And that things happen when you get out of your head. How to do that? By putting your hands to work. And then it all kind of happens by itself, or not... And that's okay too. Love it, absolutely love it.


GRA - 3rd class drawing

Still working with the sculpture teacher. We had to bring an object from home. In class we are drawing it in different ways; right, left hand, eyes closed, different materials, etc. This is fun to do, even if it seems to lead nowhere. Then we're supposed to incorporate parts of the academy into the drawing of the object by 'rubbing.' I have no idea what to aim for, so I wander around not finding my thing at all. Teacher is very busy with other people, I get no feed back and get totally stuck. No pictures today. My drawings are garbage.


MK24 - 16th class and last... for now

My last class here... oh, they've been so much fun! I am so torn if I should do another class here this semester... it's so good for me to keep doing it, but also it's a lot every week and I am curious to see if I can create some on my own.

Anyway, this last time we go back to the self portrait, but this time we are encouraged to let go of reality and dive into the abstract. A continuation of what we've been doing at the Rietveld. I recreate the drawings of faces I have done there last week. And then try to paint it. New problems occur. Where in a drawing a black line suffices, here the canvas asks for a different approach, so new things happen. I try to be loose again, use lots of water, and give it lots of layers. I like the result, it's fun.


GRA - 2nd class drawing

It's back to sculpture teacher today, and she's giving a strange assignment: we have to all sit behind each other and feel our necks with our left hand. The idea is to draw the back of the person in front of us and to draw the feeling. What? Huh? How do you do that? Other people are so much better at this than me. I am constantly second guessing myself. And off course trying to please the teacher. When am I going to stop that? Anyway, I just do the best I can... it is what it is. Have a look:

We move on to self portraits. Teacher is not easily satisfied. I don't like my first drawing, but think the second one's okay.After this, the teacher tells me to buy bigger sheets of paper downstairs and make big drawings while standing. That brings me to a new way of drawing, more free, more me.

I like these faces. The assignment for next week is to transform these drawings into sculptures for the Open Day. I reproduce the faces with wire. I didn't take pictures, but they turn out quite nicely. My hands hurt for days from bending the wire.


MK24 - 15th class

Nude model

A real model comes to the studio. She's a little older, and a little obese, which gives us something to draw. She takes off her robe and poses for us with such ease... I am amazed and impressed.
We're working really fast because the lady cannot stay in her poses for too long. My Goodness, this is intense. The concentration is enormous. And it's quite hard! Difficult to get the whole body within the borders of the paper in the right proportions.
We're making many different sketches, with left hand, right hand, charcoal, Conté, on white paper, brown paper.
The teacher likes my drawings. They look like sculptures, she says...