Tag Archives: teaching

3d software is the most difficult for me to nail down and learn. Well, it was in 2002. I was in a class trying to learn Maya. There wasn’t much on YouTube or Lynda and the books were difficult to read. And yet, I got through the class somehow.  With the ubiquity of 3d printers, 3d software has become easier to learn.  Not only are there a multitude of software packages to pick from, but now, there is a range of learning curves and of course each has their own limitations.  I cover Tinkercad and Meshmixer in Digital Art class. Not wanting to scare students too much, I keep them away from heavy programs like Blender or 3DS. As I see it, Tinker and Mesh are more accessible to students who have never modeled before.  This semester, the advanced students are working with Fusion 360. I started them out on Blender and they were both lost. We are all guinea pigs in this ever changing world.

But I digress. This summer, I wanted to tackle Blender. So I loaded some YouTube lessons up, accessed Lynda through our school, which students and faculty are given free. (Thank you, TCC!) And even bought a comprehensive course on UDEMY.  It is going well.  Apparently, from what I have learned, you only use about 10-15% of the things when you are first getting started. Each design presents its own set of issues and solutions, but it went well.  Now, I haven’t touched it in a while, so I will have to brush up, but Fusion 360 has a seductive look about it so, I think I am moving on.

These low poly models were done in blender. Plane sketch is from Scott Robertson.


More and more Art Appreciation classes are embracing the hands-on experience when it comes to the in-class experience.  Gone are the days of lecture and unengaged students.  I have never considered myself a “lecturer.” I teach this class more like a studio class and it makes it more interesting for all of us. My class is at 8am and you bet there are plenty of students that don’t want to be there, so every week we conquer a new hands-on assignment.  I think its a great way to engage the student’s creativity. Many professors have embraced this since my first sharing of hand-on exercises back in 2010 and the interest has grown.  Now, there have been listings in the school catalog for Art Appreciation classes that say “hands-on.”  It is nice to think that I had a hand in this trend.

These images are from the Printmaking week. Political Art, stencils and spray paint. Oct, 2016 I believe. Posters made and put up around campus.

Registration Poster Series, November 2015

Remember the background.  Don’t leave it alone.  Don’t leave it as an afterthought.  I was tasked with creating posters for spring registration.  I wanted to start with the background patterns.  Theme was based on arcs, circles and lines with rounded caps.  I do have my favorites color combinations, but I can’t help myself when it comes to adding texture in Photoshop.  I am a sucker for Blending Modes.  With a simple brown paper bag and a camera you can get some really interesting things.  Some of the posters glow and I love it.  If you haven’t played around with Blending Modes in Photoshop yet.  Do it!  You don’t know what you are missing.  It make the most flat work have depth and dynamism.

More importantly though is that they are working.  I teach 2 of the classes here and I have already recruited students for next semester.

Look how far I’ve come.  When I got to Tarrant County College in 2010, this was the poster I designed for registration.  I remember thinking that the artwork should play center stage and nothing should distract from it.  I was also new here, scared to take risks.  Scared to offend.  Even now I do still think some of that is still present, but I have to consider my audience.  Most want it legible and thats it.  Short and to the point.  And so, I went with white.  It seemed safe.  In hindsight, it seems sterile and clinical.  I can’t believe seeing these side by side.  What a leap!


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Self Portrait, pencil

It wasn’t until grad school that a visiting artist let me in on a secret to my work.  He said, “the way you talk about your work, it’s as if you are this small”.  He points to a speck of clay next to a big pot that I had thrown days earlier.  “Your work is about scale. Things that are bigger than you.  Embrace this.”  Maybe this is why I am always looking up or looking down at things.  Taking note. Photographing and fascinated with what I find.

As with critiques even today, I relate everything to movies.  In this advice, I remembered the movie American Splendor.  Harvey’s co-worker and friend Toby reminds him, “Believe in something bigger than yourself.  It might cheer you up.”  No although I am not as grumpy as the main character, this thought definitely keeps me humble and smiling.

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