Thursday, February 12, 2015


Liam loves art.  He could draw or design on the computer all day.  He begs for editing programs to make films and animation.  He is an art animal.  Of course, he has little interest in learning art from me.  I'm kind of a weird artist anyway.

My dad was a wonderful, trained artist and taught me a great deal, but I didn't take very many outside classes - mostly stuck to pencil drawing and crazy, fantasy pen art in my teens (don't ask).  As an adult, my main claim to fame is Etch-A-Sketch art.  I wasn't all that into it as a kid, but I remember being at a party as an adult, where there was a n Etch-A-Sketch on the coffee table.  Someone remarked that it was impossible to draw a human figure on an Etch-A-Sketch.  I  must've been bored, because I picked up the toy and proceeded to draw a reclining nude.  Something about doing adult art on a child's drawing toy pleased me.  After that, I started doing more Etch-A-Sketch drawings, buying more frames and getting fancier as I went along.  Here are two pieces - a version of a sketch for DaVinci's "Leda and the Swan" and a tribute to Escher.  I call it "Escher Sketch."  There are more examples here:

Liam's style is cool, loose and very expressive.  And he works best when he has certain restraints (like a computer program).  In a way, he reminds me of Tim Burton - brilliant when he's constrained by the limitations of stop-motion animation and very messy when left to his own devices - still interesting, but much less focused.  That's Liam's art.  Still in all, he's naturally much more talented than I ever was, so I jokingly refer to myself as Michelangelo's assistant - rinsing brushes and bringing new "canvases" so the master can work.  

To keep things fresh, I signed him up for after-school art classes at his old school.  We already love the art teacher, Eden, and he has the added bonus of seeing old classmates on campus, who are all very excited to see him!

For the past few weeks, Liam has been following along, having fun, but mostly just copying the teacher's example more or less line-for-line and color-for-color.  I was happy this week, when Eden brought in a long, decorative Indonesian mask then showed the project.  The kids were to create two mask-inspired drawings on a divided sheet of paper.  Each mask needed to show an opposite emotion.  Liam picked happy and angry.  The colors were to reflect the emotions.  For the first time, he drew his own work, only refrencing the ideas, but not the actual designs of the teacher's work.  
Always far less interested in the color than the drawing, he started playing more with the water colors in the water cup than putting them down on paper, until the end, when he slapped them on because he wanted to leave with a finished piece (in that way, at least, he's like me - I was never driven by color either).  He did say he wanted reds for the angry face and yellow for the happy face, which I thought was cool.  I dig these faces.

A while back, he started playing with the Etch-A-Sketch too.  Here's his version of Perry the Platypus from "Phineas and Ferb" from a couple of years ago.

Maybe he learned something from me after all.

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