Monday, September 21, 2009

POS: Songwriter Biographies

You will be assigned the name of a notable songwriter. On your blog, you must now complete a biographical presentation of your given artist(s) including, but not limited to, the following: a list of 10 relevant, interesting facts regarding the artist(s), a timeline, 5 high quality images, a link to relevant video footage, a formal analysis of one song which exemplifies the artist's use of poetic devices, and a short essay examining the artist's contributions to the practice of song-writing. This assignment is intended to acquiant you with some of the capabilities of your blog. I will check and assess your final products on Sunday, September 27th; they should appear on your blogs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shakespeare and Predestination

As we study William Shakespeare and read Romeo and Juliet in class, consider the following prompt:

The concept of predestination is reflected in the work of Shakespeare. The lives of men and women are "mapped out in the stars", and attempts to transcend or disrupt this order, or chain of being, only lead to tragedy. Does belief in predestination exist in some form today? Do we subscribe to a similar or different philosophy? How does predestination relate to, or conflict with, the "American Dream"? How might you categorize the belief systems of our world today? Do you believe that your destiny is mapped out for you, or do you think that you control your own fate? (3-5 paragraphs; due via post and hard copy 9-19).

POS: Theme-Genre Brainstorming

Here is where you will participate in our online discussion by posing 3 potential theme-genre concepts and commenting on at least 10 peer theme-genre concepts. This homework assignment will be graded on September 20th. Make sure to direct your comments with names and to sign all of your comments with your first name and last initial. And- no, that is not my head in the photograph.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer Reading

Although I worked this summer, I managed to sneak in some reading. Here are some highlights:

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins: A firsthand account from a New York Times reporter embedded with Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. Eye-opening. A firefight of a read. (A)

The White Tiger by Avarind Adiga: "Slumdog" depiction of modern India. Tragic and funny. (A-)

Shakespeare in His World by Bill Bryson: a concise and anecdotal profile. (A-)

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: Classic yet unique American epic delivered by a quirky Greek-American narrator with an interesting gender classification. It won the Pulitzer. Long (655) but worthwhile. (A-)

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck: I'm a fan of Steinbeck and enjoyed the motley patchwork of characters in this novella. I was able to visit California this summer and see the areas which served as the settings for some of his work, namely my favorite, Of Mice and Men. (B+)

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris: Quirky collection of essays. Funny and irreverent, but I found myself asking "why didn't I write this book?" (C+)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: A bestseller which tiptoes on the edge of cheesy detective fiction without ever crossing the line. The dynamic characters in the story kept me coming back for more. I'm reading his second, "The Girl Who Played with Fire".

Art I: Introduction to Drawing

-remember that drawing is more about seeing than…drawing
-observe approximately 75% of the time; draw approximately 25% of the time
-orient yourself to your drawing and your subject as both artist and viewer; use a viewfinder when drawing from observation
-take joy in the use of materials; get “in the zone”
-remember that drawing is the creation of an illusion: the illusion of form and space; drawing is the visual language we use to describe what we see

Elements and Principles of Design
shape: the two-dimensional structure of a given object
form: the three-dimensional structure of a given object
value: the degree of light and dark of an area
form shadow: a shadow on a given object which helps to reveal its form
shadow edge: the edge where a shadow meets a lighter value
reflected light: indirect light reflected from surface to surface
cast shadow: a shadow resulting from an object interfering with the light source
highlight: the area of lightest value on a given object
light source: the direct source and direction of light (determines most value relationships)
background: the area and space furthest from the viewer
foreground: the area and space closest to the viewer
contrast: the difference(s) between darks and lights in an image

Final "Basic Forms" studies must include but are not limited to a total of 10 drawings:
-a segmented and continuous value scale (cw)
-5 drawings of imagined spheres; differing light sources (2 in pencil; 2 in crayon; one on toned (Mi Tientes) paper with high/low value colored pencil) (quiz)
-Drawings of an imagined cone, cube, and cylinder (medium is student's choice) (quiz)
-2 observational drawings of simple objects with one definitive light source (medium is student's choice) (quiz)
-Response to Mr. Kefor's blog post regarding basic drawing techniques (hw)

1. THE BLOCK-IN. The block-in is all about observation, shape and measurement. Through your viewfinder, look for linear relationships between objects. Grip your instrument loosely and draw with the arm. Do not over-commit to any of the marks you make. Using very soft, gentle strokes, begin to “map out” the framework of your subject. Do not be satisfied with any lines that appear inadequate or incorrect. Pay special attention to contours and negative space. Block-in shapes first, then shadows. Group shadows as simply as possible; ask yourself: is this a light or a shadow? and group the shapes accordingly. Try squinting in order to "blur" the values and make them more manageable. Any mistakes made during the block-in phase will be amplified by the time the drawing is complete. Step away from your drawing periodically; viewing it from a distance is extremely helpful.
2. BUILDING VALUE. Building value is all about identifying the range of values you observe in the subject. Group your values based on a scale of one to ten. Beginning with your “darkest dark”, begin to build a range of value on your paper. Choose a direction or type of mark and stick with it (avoid any mark that requires a back and forth motion). Areas of shade should be built through repetition, not force. Unnecessary force will scar the paper prematurely, leaving the drawing sloppy and unrefined. Step away from your drawing periodically.
3. EDGING. Making a hard edge is easy; making a soft edge requires more patience. Edges convince the eye that it is viewing something real; edges turn shapes to forms and create space (the most advanced element of drawing). Step away from your drawing periodically.

Edges are sharpest when:
-objects are close to the viewer
-high-contrast values intersect

Edges are softest when:
-objects are farther from viewer
-low-contrast values intersect