Visual Arts 11 — Advice from former students

At the end of each project, I will often ask each student to give advice to others who will do this project in the future. Here is what they want to pass on to the future.


Advice for Textural Explorations [pdf]
Handout: Advice for Textural Explorations [pdf]
Advice for idea generation for Textural Explorations [pdf]
Handout: Advice for idea generation for Textural Explorations [pdf]
Advice for Expressive Clay Sculpture [pdf]
Handout: Advice for Expressive Clay Sculpture [pdf]
Advice for Printmaking [pdf]
Handout: Advice for Printmaking [pdf]
Advice for Painting [pdf]
Handout: Advice for Painting [pdf]
Advice for Final Exam [pdf]
Handout: Advice for Final Exam [pdf]
Advice for dealing with Drapak [pdf]
Handout: Advice for dealing with Drapak [pdf]

Additional advice


Make sure it's not central. You won't get any value if it is. If you aren't sure if it is central always ask Mr. Drapak. -SH

Don't be scared of thinking of creative ways to position your piece. Don't worry about cutting things off at the edges or shifting the angle around. Think of the page as a camera lens able to be moved for a better shot. - JH

Never draw or paint something directly in the center. The result of doing so takes away from the artwork almost all of the time. The can be however some exceptions. -AD

Composition is a big deal when it comes to drawing an artwork. Make sure that your drawing is non-central and always be sure to draw your objects in different angles to make them more interesting. -AE

Although central compositions with a beach and palm trees is a good idea Mr. Drapak doesn't seem to like them for some reason. -JB (Drapak's note: No I don't, and yes, JB is being sarcastic)

Never be central with your composition, make it stand out and focus on unordinary places. -ET

Non-central composition means having not to have the main object in the center of your drawing. This part is easy but sometimes the picture turns out nicely but doesn't look quite right. To overcome this draw the objects "leaning" (figuratively) towards a single point, in a series of practice thumbnails only for improving the composition. -DM

Always think out of the box, look at your paper and picture your artwork from different angles or sides. Be creative with your composition - don't just put it in the middle - that's boring! -SW

When creating images make sure that they are not centred in the middle. NO CENTRAL COMPOSITION. Do not forget about the background. Yes, there may be one focal point but there needs to be a background to draw you in. DO NOT LEAVE IT TO BE DONE LAST. I learned that the hard way. -LC

Think of different perspectives, paint/draw from an unusual point of view. -TV

If you have an idea that involves a central composition, mess around with it and try to find a non-central composition. -AA

As we learned in grade 10, we are taught about blending colours together properly. However, in grade 11 we start to build more skills to have a more painterly artwork. Although it is not the main focus of the course, it definately creates more drama. -GP

Never do a central composition. If your painting a photo and have an object in the centre just put it off to the side or on a angle. - CD

Make the composition non-central and interesting/intriguing. It will not only make it more artistic, it will make it more fun. -JR

Even if you think you have a solid composition try other opinions anyway. -CW

By adding small things like birds or something that fits in with everything else can block a central composition or just move things away from the middle. -PM

Try to crop things at strange and unusual angles so you can show things in a new and interesting perspective. -WF

Art History

Share your ideas. It is good to work on public speaking and share/contrast opinions with others. -MC

When studying art history, study how the artist made the artwork. Look at the detail of the drawing. Make sure you have looked at everything that is in the drawing. We tend to focus on one thing and miss out on the others. -LC

Don't sigh too much about doing art history. Just write down everything that comes to mind. - RT

If you find this class not for you and hard to do well in (like me), focus more on gaining points on the writing assignments from the bookelts (like the one I'm doing now). - RG

Focus on doing the main projects because if you concentrate too much on the art history assignments you might fall behind in class. -PM


While doing this project, I found that my original plan was to stick on the different facial features rather than to build off of my original ball of clay meant to be the head, sticking clay on in the shapes of facial features without building up around them can make your clay head look very amateurish and cartoonish, and your audience will focus on that rather than the expression you meant to portray. Seal your bag!! Dry clay is absolutely impossible to use. - LF

When working with clay put the facial features like the cheeks, forehead and chin on dramatically cuase you can always fix it while you go. - CD

The more clay, the better. If you think there's too much already, put on another chunk. -RM

Make sure to use a reference with a clear expression. Don't just go off of imagination. - NB

Exaggerate the features on your sculpture. It's better to have exaggerated features than ones that are too soft and small. - CS

Don't be scared to do something wacky and out there! You don't just have to make a normal human sculpture as long as you make it well and have a creative idea he'll probably accept your idea. - RT

Take your time to really observe every part of the sculpture and the picture to make it as realistic as possible. -JR

Try to have source images from many angles so you can get depth and shape right. -JB

When you are doing the clay project remember to double bag your sculpture to keep the clay moist or else it will dry up. - CW

Exaggerate features, expression and emotion as much as possible. You may think your cheeks are far out enough and the corners of the lips are raised up enough enough, but chances are they are not. -WF

Make sure to exaggerate the features of the face in the sculpture. -JD


Go slowly with the chisels. It can seem like you have a lot of control, but by the third day, Mr. Drapak took a poll as to how many of us had had a slip with the chisel, and nearly everybody raised their hands. Getting caught by going into the linoleum at a slight angle can mean going in too deep and taking large chunks from your block, potentially causing you to change your idea. As a result, take your time and be careful. - LF

To avoid lots of slips with the chisel while printmaking hold the chisel lke a pencil and use your other hand to guide where you want to carve. You will have better control of your chisel and a lot less slips. - CD

Don't waste time on your carving because the printing itself takes a decent lot of time and you don't want to leave it all to the end. -RM

Make sure you follow the rules. It's very easy to get hurt during this unit if you don't listen. -JB

Don't be too outliney. Also take into account the shading that you want in the picture. -CW

Everything will be the opposite when the print comes out so keep that in mind when doing the carving parts. -PM

Make sure to carve deeply because it will save time before you need to recarve your entire print. -WF

Make sure you cut away from you when using the chisel as you can could injure yourself. -JD

Project management

Manage your time in class so you can get your project done on time. -NB

If you are pressed for time, come in at lunch. In fact, bring your friends. The art room is a pretty sweet lunch place. -CS

If you find working in class isn't giving you enough time to work on projects you can usually just come to the artroom at lunch or after school to work even if you are behind. -RT

When it comes to the art, always participate in every project, respect due dates, try as hard as you can and try to learn the techniques because they will only help you do better. - RG

Try to keep organized and don't get caught up in little mistakes, you can move on and fix them later. -JB

Always listen to not only Mr. Drapak's advice, but your peer's advice. You might be surprised about what they have to say. -WF

Do not look at (what you see as flaws) as a negative thing. Some of the best work is done while improvising as you go. SP


When you are blocking your painting, block dramatically. - CD

Print out your reference pictures. There is nothing worse than smearing acrylics all over your phone. - CS

Don't let the plywood board scare you! It may be big, but if you just put down the initial layers you'll soon have a wonderful piece of art. Don't leave empty spaces! Block it in! -RT

Let paint be paint. Don't try to control it too much. JB

Block your ideas in as fast as possible and make sure the paint doesn't dry when it's slobbed into your painting. -CW

Layer after layer of paint is more important than small details. Details will seem to emerge the more layers you apply. - WF

Block in all the main big parts first when painting, this is easier to have an awesome project in the end. -JD

A layer a day keeps the troubles away! It really helps to add/have physical texture (texture that you can not only see, but touch.) -SP


Have a clear idea of what you want to do because there's not a lot of time. - NB

Enjoy what you do - it will be less stressful that way. - JR

Don't waste a lot of time and if you need to come at lunch or after school to work on your artwork. -JD

General advice

Observe from reality as much as possible. The more observation the better. Use other people's artworks for inspiration, but not for visual reference.

I am looking for great shading, depth, texture and/or pattern. I am looking for different kinds of lengths of pencil marks, carvings, and brushstrokes. Show a variety and a depth of skills.

Plan your image carefully. Consider moments of drama or beauty that others may not notice. Use your artwork to show people something memorable.

Use non-central assymetrical compositions. Balance colours, lights and darks, textures, depth, etc.