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144 Instagrams, September 2010, 30×30″, giclee’ print on enhanced matte paper

My wife and I joke that “if you didn’t Instagram it, It didn’t happen”.  This printed work catalogs about  a years worth of Instagrams.  Not everthing was used, but in this piece you can make out my love of type, movie screen captures, pottery, and common icons/architecture/fixtures that go unnoticed daily.  Instagram captures images in a square format.  I wonder why they decided that.  Maybe it is nod to the instamatic…the Polaroid.  Either way, its difficult to capture things visually within this format as we have become accustomed to a wider format and even wide-screen.  Squares remind me of grids and grids remind me of architecture.  My first introduction to drawing was in a Drafting class so many years ago in high school.  I still remember how I “got it”.  So much so that I won the award for that year.  It wouldn’t be until 10 years later that I would pursue an art education in college.  I get the square, but it’s tough to be square all the time.


Four Walls Poster: November 2013

Simple and to the point.  I could have skewed the type in program (either Illustrator or Photoshop), but the romantic notion of “hands-on” tempted my heart.  Four Walls is a concept for an exhibition whereby 4 student artists are chosen to create a work of art on one of our four gallery walls.  Lakeview gallery, Tarrant County College Northwest.

Though simple, this is probably the poster I am most proud of.  Yes, it is up there.  I think because it is an elegant solution to what could be a complex problem if you were to use software only.  As you can see, there were a number of configurations for the foam-core walls.  I chose to a configuration that honored the same placement in the gallery.  After importing the photo in computer, I had to sell the type as transparent.  So, the foam-core became like a maquette of sorts–guiding type I would create in program (Illustrator).

I was loads of fun to do and I am so pleased with the outcome.

Mandala Project: November 2015

I teach Art Appreciation from a studio perspective. I believe it makes what might be a boring class into a class that is exciting and interactive.  In this, we cover artists and materials artists use.  This is one of those projects that you have in your head, but haven’t road tested it in class.  The students are guinea pigs in essence.  I get excited in these situations and even more excited when the projects turn out better than expected.  Students handed in designs on folded paper (pic 1). Then I used Illustrator and Photoshop to help crop(pic 2) and clean up/finalize(pic3). As we also covered basic color theory in the same class, we will color the mandalas next time.  Looking forward to it.


Here are some examples of student work:

cortiar jennifer jessica


War Face: November 2012

I didn’t know that I would be coming up with projects all the time.  Such is the life of a professor.  I do have my reliable ones that I continue to go back to and others that just don’t see the light of day.  Portraiture seems to always be the standard in art class.  How do you spin that?  Even today with the numerous selfies out there.  We are a vain breed.  Shouting has always been funny to me, unless I’m the one getting shouted at.  And so, some of my pictures are of me, mouth agape, angry-looking and mean.  But, many who know me, knows that this is not me.  And so, borrowing from Full Metal Jacket, I asked my students to make their own War Face.  In complete fear for survival, what War Face would you make?

Tools used:  Photo and Illustrator’s Pen Tool.  (Students hate learning the pen tool. Although I do hear that CC’s version is quite nice.)

Dada Day Poster, April 2013

Dada day is a celebration of everything art, everything creative, and everything messy. Imagine if you will a thousand or so students reigning down on a 20×20 space with paint, clay, glue, more paint, paper, magazine cutouts, food, music, and poetry.  The walls are covered. The floors are covered.  It is seen by some as total chaos, but the architect for this 3 day event is a true visionary and brings many different departments together to celebrate including but not limited to Math, Sciences, English, Music, Dance, Computer/Tech.

In this poster design I wanted to capture what Dada meant historically in a word cloud. I think I was actually referencing at one point the Harry Potter newspaper from the movies.  Many students say “I didn’t know what to use for a background, so I just painted a gradient.”  I’ve heard this many times and I know the feeling.  You’ve spent so long on your work that the last thing you want to think about is the background and it leaves the work somewhat weak.  One solution: Use what’s around you.  I happened upon this paper lantern that one of my students made in Design II and used its watercolor effects to illuminate my poster.  The poster seems to glow and shine…adding another dimension to the design.  I could have just used a gradient, but it would not have been as successful.  Use what you have.

My niece and the curved line

Limit yourself.  Notice how the portrait of my niece changes when represented as positive shapes versus the limitations of using only curved line.  Using only curved lines was tough. What sparked this process?  I remember hearing whilst in a Figure drawing class that most if not all lines of the human form are convex in nature. (I could be mixing this up with concave)  And therefore, I decided to use only curved lines in Illustrator.  I also adjusted line weight to compensate for shadow and highlights.  The curved edition has an almost cherub quality to it, while the positive shapes make her appear a lot older than she really is.  Interesting.

Often times, I will work along side the students in Digital Art class to provide support and maybe stretch their minds beyond the humdrum.  I love coming up with different scenarios for our animal creations.  In fact, this Project is called Mad Scientist!  In it students are tasked with coming up with their own creation based in animal traits and photos.(non-human) It isn’t until a good week of playing around with different ideas that things finally get nailed down.  One of my favorite parts is writing the fact sheet about the animal.  In class, we print out as trading cards and hand them out to each other.  Collect them all!