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Course Spotlight: Chinese Brush Painting with Mayee Futterman

This summer, we are thrilled to welcome instructor Mayee Futterman. Teaching Chinese Brush Painting at our Woodland Hills center, Mayee brings years of experience and artistic inspiration to the classroom. We chatted with her about the history of this art form, and how you can get started creating unique and beautiful works of your own.

Can you describe your history with Chinese Brush Painting and how you got started?

I have been an artist all my life. As a young girl, I loved to draw. I became an architect and discovered the power of design, materials, and structure. Then, the birth of our son rocked my world. It rearranged my life, career, and mindset. “Mayee, Interrupted.” Motherhood taught me three things: to go with the flow, to know the beauty of the female body, and to love unconditionally. But before I knew it, I was no longer the sun of my son’s universe. Again, time came for change. “Mom, you have vision. Now execute.”

The Chinese characters for měi 美 meaning “beauty” and yí 怡 meaning “ease” represent my name. To me, they convey the essence of the art I love: the joyful expression of sublime beauty, with the natural ease of a dancing brush. Graceful yet bold, deliberate yet free, Chinese Brush Painting bridges my duality—the bold austerity of the architect with the sensuous grace of motherhood.

My mother’s first household purchase as a newlywed was not a bed, pots and pans, or any practical necessities. With her small savings, she bought an exquisite Chinese blue and white porcelain jar with images of Phoenix, Dragon, and Peony. My childhood was deeply infused with Chinese and Philippine influences that inspired my aesthetic sensibilities. I too began my love affair with Chinese Brush Painting the year I was married.

Chinese Brush Painting is the foundation of all oriental brush arts and has strongly influenced Western painting. An extension of Chinese calligraphy or brush writing, no other art form emphasizes the mastery of brushwork. My art and teaching are strongly founded on classical Chinese Brush Painting skills, techniques, philosophy, and subject matter. I teach a range of approaches from traditional to contemporary. I draw influences from my multi-cultural experience and bring a rigor and aesthetic sensibility from my architecture and urban design background. My approach is suitable for beginning through advanced students.

Like UCLA Extension students, my first exploration into Chinese Brush Painting was through continuing education. For over two decades, I studied and apprenticed under professor and master artist, Dr. Ning Yeh. I serve as teaching assistant and co-authored five of his instructional art books including “108 Flowers: Brush Painting Lessons Volumes 1-4” and “Landscape Lessons.” I have a Master of Architecture II from UCLA and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines. My work is in various corporate and private collections throughout the U.S. and abroad. I have traveled to China numerous times to study and paint.

I am excited to teach at UCLA Extension because my own life changes and transformative experiences are aligned with their vision to “engage education to transform lives” and “to create extraordinary learning experiences for adults of all ages.” In brush painting (as in life), the first stroke is a “happening.” The rest are a series of adjustments building upon previous ones. Whether one is undergoing a career change, enhancing skills, or engaged in lifelong learning, Chinese Brush Painting is an enlightening practice in embracing change.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

My first art commission was to produce a large wall mural for the lobby of a new medical facility. Unfortunately, oversized handmade rice paper is no longer produced. My teacher offered, “This paper was my father’s. I’ve been saving it—for when I get better.” The sheets were a treasure. The master himself considered them too precious to use. “There are only 20 sheets. You take 10.” I was stunned. How could I possibly paint on these?

The paper had aged to a fine perfection, every stroke a sensual delight. When I tell this story, people inevitably ask, “How many sheets did it take to get it right?” I respond, “Was there any room for error?”

The giant mural and over 30 of my works are permanently displayed at the Los Angeles Center for Women’s Health (Women’s Center), a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility in downtown Los Angeles dedicated to providing high quality, compassionate care for the health and well being of women through all life stages.

Shortly after the center opened, I got calls for additional paintings. “Some patients come in with severe emotional and physical distress. Many are facing terminal conditions. Seeing your art brings them ease and comfort.” I too have worn a patient’s gown and sat in the waiting room with other patients—and with my art. I have often contemplated the value and purpose of art in human lives.

The Women’s Center project was my awakening to the positive and life-affirming influence of my art. It gave me the confidence and conviction to share the beauty, joy, inspiration, and knowledge of Chinese Brush Painting with others. That single sheet of rice paper was a defining moment in my life. I have 9 sheets left—for when I get better.

Why is it important to you to teach this art form?

What makes Chinese Brush Painting unique?  “The Four Treasures”—brush, ink stick, ink stone, and rice paper—have defined this art form for thousands of years. The Chinese brush is graceful, supple, and bounces to a lively point. When in tune with the artist’s spirit, it dances to the rhythm of the universe. Rice paper is sensitive, honest, and responsive. It absorbs every move, thought, and emotion. Once a stroke is delivered, it cannot be changed or covered up. The ink stone is the playground where ink meets water. The play of ink and water is the yin and yang of brush painting—the harmonious integration of contrasting elements resulting in a sense of equilibrium and tranquility. Together, the lively interaction of brush, ink, water, and rice paper is a transformative and enlightening experience.

 

Xiěyì寫意, the spontaneous style of Chinese Brush Painting, means “to depict an idea.” Executed in a lively, simple, and speedy manner, one expresses the spirit and essence of a subject rather than its realistic detail. The artist is at one with the subject, and the painting is a medium for self-expression and self-discovery.

As a student of Chinese Brush Painting, I am on a never-ending journey of learning. Sharing the knowledge with others is the most inspiring and energizing way to learn. Why is it important to me to teach this art form?

  • It is a way of life. The theory of Chinese Brush Painting is also the philosophy of life. It gives meaning and connection to the world beyond one’s self. It is life-affirming and life-changing for both the artist and the viewer.
  • We live a multi-cultural life with valuable and meaningful influences. I have a deep appreciation, understanding, and passion for this medium. Teaching others preserves the tradition and advances the art.
  • It deepens the artist’s skill set and broadens their perspective. Chinese Brush Painting is an important genre in the history and development of art. Mastery of the brush empowers artists of any medium.

  • It is fun. The sensation of stroking the Chinese brush to rice paper is like no other. It awakens all the senses. The whole person—mind, heart, body, and spirit—engages in this process. It is one’s “happy place.”
  • The creative process is regenerative and rejuvenating. In Chinese Brush Painting, every sheet of rice paper is a fresh beginning. Every brush stroke is loaded with joyful anticipation. One is in a state of eternal spring.

What can students expect from your class?

In this class, students will unlock the treasures, experience the beauty, discover the essence, and share the joy of Chinese Brush Painting.

They will learn the basics of Chinese Brush Painting through hands-on instruction, complete compositions, handouts, and discussion including:

Gain an overview of the history, philosophy, and aesthetic concepts.

Understand the proper selection, care, preparation, and use of traditional materials.

Perform the basic skills and techniques for brush strokes including line work, texture, shading, and washes on floral, creatures, and landscape subjects.

Engage in a dialog about the principles of design and composition and methods of critique.

 

After taking this class, students can enjoy the following outcomes:

Demonstrate general knowledge, preparation, and proper use of brushes, paper, ink, and colors.

Demonstrate beginning skills to deliver brush strokes with fluidity and dexterity.

Demonstrate basic skills to apply Chinese Brush Painting techniques to produce finished paintings.

Apply key elements of design and composition to produce original images.

In the budding stage, the sunflower faces the sun and follows it’s movement across the sky. As it matures, it settles into a fixed position. My teacher says, “The desire to learn keeps one’s mind in the budding stage.” Indeed, Chinese Brush Painting has something to offer for everyone. No prior experience needed. Paint with me this summer and take the lifelong journey into Chinese Brush Painting.

Course Spotlight: Game-Based Learning

It’s always exciting to offer new elective courses, especially in the burgeoning field of game design and learning. This summer, we’re offering the new 2-unit online course Game-Based Learning. Instructor Randall Fujimoto tell us more about it:

Why is this course important for my design education?

This course is important for design students because of two main reasons: 1) To become familiar with game design in relation to learning, and 2) To understand the design implications of designing for the gameful mindset generation.

Game Design
With approximately 2.2 billion active gamers worldwide, games are fast becoming the most important media of our time. Therefore, any good design education needs to include the study of game design. Game designers are typically interested in designing all aspects of a game, including gameplay, art and animation, environment design, sound and music, and user interfaces, in order to make games engaging and fun. In this course, we look at the design of games not only as it relates to engagement but also, and more importantly for educators, how it relates to learning.

Gameful Mindset
In the U.S., the average 21-year-old person has played an estimated 10,000 hours of video games. The sheer amount of gameplay hours has undoubtedly had an effect on the way that today’s “gamer generation” thinks and learns. They have developed what we call a “gameful mindset,” which describes the unique ways in which gamers think, learn, and live their lives. Anyone who is designing anything for the gamer generation needs to understand how a gameful mindset affects the way these people learn how to use what they are designing. This course can help future designers become familiar with the characteristics of a gameful mindset and how they relate to learning.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

One assignment will have teams working on designing a lesson plan or learning activity centered around using an existing video game to help students learn. In order to design such a lesson plan or learning activity, teams will have to identify one or more learning outcomes and objectives, conduct research on existing video games that can be used for these outcomes and objectives, and then create a design plan that details the entire learning process. Teams will share their completed design plans with the entire class to get feedback and improvement ideas.

What will I take away from this course?

This course will give you a solid knowledge base about the various aspects of game-based learning and how to design various learning activities that utilize games and game-like thinking. The course will cover video games, educational games, game design projects, gamification of courses, and other topics related to game-based learning, including the intrinsic motivations inherent in game-based learning activities.

Thank you, Randall!

Enroll in Game-Based Learning today.

Design IV Student Project Spotlight: Aviva Family and Children’s Services

We’re highlight three of the outstanding group projects created by students of John Beach’s fall Design IV: Advanced Design Practice course.

Next up: Aviva Family and Children’s Services by Jonas Lin, Yuling Liang, Flora Zhuang.

First John gives us an overview of the course:

Students get the opportunity to choose a real life non-profit organization to rebrand, refresh and reorganize the public’s perception of its value. We start with branding, and through web presence, social media and virtually any other method such as (but not limited to) pop up events, exhibitions, advertising, curated exhibitions (all of which the teams design), we look at ways to build awareness, extend and develop funding possibilities, or change social perceptions. The teams leave with an extraordinary brand/look book for their portfolios that chronicles the process.

Check out the students’ work below:

Great work, team!

Design IV Student Project Spotlight: Days For Girls

We’re highlight three of the outstanding group projects created by students of John Beach’s fall Design IV: Advanced Design Practice course.

Next up: Days for Girls by Carla Pera and Man Ting Kong.

First John gives us an overview of the course:

Students get the opportunity to choose a real life non-profit organization to rebrand, refresh and reorganize the public’s perception of its value. We start with branding, and through web presence, social media and virtually any other method such as (but not limited to) pop up events, exhibitions, advertising, curated exhibitions (all of which the teams design), we look at ways to build awareness, extend and develop funding possibilities, or change social perceptions. The teams leave with an extraordinary brand/look book for their portfolios that chronicles the process.

Check out the students’ work below:

Excellent work, Carla Pera and Man Ting Kong!

Design IV Student Project Spotlight: LA Makerspace

It’s our pleasure to highlight some of the outstanding group projects created by students of John Beach’s fall Design IV: Advanced Design Practice course!

First John gives us an overview of the course:

Students get the opportunity to choose a real life non-profit organization to rebrand, refresh and reorganize the public’s perception of its value. We start with branding, and through web presence, social media and virtually any other method such as (but not limited to) pop up events, exhibitions, advertising, curated exhibitions (all of which the teams design), we look at ways to build awareness, extend and develop funding possibilities, or change social perceptions. The teams leave with an extraordinary brand/look book for their portfolios that chronicles the process.

We begin with the team comprised of Shadalene Adamos and Natalie Mizrahi. The name of the non-profit organization the group rebranded is LA Makerspace:

Excellent work, Shadalene and Natalie!

Course spotlight: AR/MR/VR for Immersive Content: Experience, Game & Media

We’re thrilled to be offering coursework this spring in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality as we ramp up our game design course offerings. Instructor Jason Yim tells us all about what students can expect in this exciting course:

Why is this course important for my design education?

AR/MR will become the next computing paradigm. Just like smart-phones and apps changed human behavior and our connection to technology in a matter of years, AR/MR will have the same global effect. Secondly, designing for AR/MR/VR is very different from print or normal design for screen space. The user experience is played out over 3D space and blends with the physical environment, resulting in its own design language and best practices. And lastly, the case studies and guest speakers in this course will offer access and visibility into some of the world’s biggest brands and clients.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

Students will develop and present a concept for a real-world client and brief in mind. During this process they will create a prototype for user-testing in order to validate their concept. The prototype format will depend on the skill set of the student:
• Non-design students can create a paper mock up
• Digital Designers can create a click-through prototype
• 3D artists can produce a POV video
• Coders can create a working UNITY prototype
We will have a dedicated “user-testing” day for students and guests to review each other’s work and to capture results and insights.

What will I take away from this course?

You’ll feel like you spent 11 weeks IN the industry and not just learning about it from the outside.

Day one will start by giving you hands on access to several AR/VR/MR devices. By the end of the course, you will leave with an appreciation of the real-world challenges and opportunities from case-studies and guest speakers as well as your own personal experience developing, prototyping and testing a concept.

Thanks so much, Jason!

Enroll in AR/MR/VR for Immersive Content: Experience, Game & Media today!

 

Course Spotlight: Graphic Design Career Launchpad

The one-and-only Pash shares more about his elective, Graphic Design Career Launchpad:

Why is this course important for my design education?
I like to say that this class picks up—or even “wraps up”—where everything else leaves off. I created this course because after so many years of watching students make their way through the DCA program I found that they were really nicely prepared in terms of learning the fundamentals of design, how to use the various tools and software that we designers employ, and how to solve problems and think like a designer. And they usually had good solid portfolios or at least the start of one. But when I asked them what their plan was from here I would get mostly blank stares. Or awkward, unfocused answers. I felt it was time to remedy this!

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
Overall this class is definitely homework-light. We will spend a little bit of time working on the basic elements of a designer’s materials toolkit (think business cards, resume, etc). But the main class project relates to the students’ interview of one of our guests. We will have a guest in the class each week from Week 2 through Week 10—a great designer who will be joining us to talk specifically about their career path. They will be interviewed by the students (in groups of two or three). Then the students will transcribe the interviews and create a double page spread summarizing the interview. A few examples from previous years are below.

What will I take away from this course?
At the very least a much better sense of what life in this profession is really like. Answers to a LOT of questions. A better idea of what you want and can expect in your career. Hopefully a renewed sense of confidence. And finally—if we do this right—some semblance of a game plan!

Thanks, Pash!

Enroll in Graphic Design Career Launchpad today!

Course Spotlight: Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face

There are few things more powerful than a beautifully rendered portrait. Photography instructor Scott Stulberg shares with us what students can expect in his upcoming one-day course Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face:

Why is this one-day course important for my photography education?

Photographing people…. and in particular faces for so many years now, the insights that you capture through so many different kinds of shoots, locations, weather conditions and the interactions of all kinds of different people, well, it all adds up to a great deal of knowledge. For a good majority of the people out there with cameras, point-and-shoot is really what they have become used to. The reason I love teaching how to capture people in different ways is because you can become so intimate with your subject. You can see and feel how to best capture them for your final outcome. You might realize they look better with a red dress than with blue jeans. That for their particular look, a unique hat completely changes your vision. Lying on their back, looking straight up at you while you were shooting straight down on them from above, might give you the perfect look and feel on that particular day.

There is so much to think about when shooting portraits from lighting, from equipment, working with people you hardly know and trying to capture the essence of who they are and so much more. In this class, I want to share my knowledge of years and years of working with people from not just the United States but from all over the world. And not just adults but also how to capture children which is one of my favorite subjects.

Exploring methods to push yourself out of your comfort zone can lead to a whole new world of self discovery with your photography. This course will help you discover and develop your own personal vision and individual style and push yourself to get images you’ve always imagined but were not really sure where to start.

Capturing people is a huge part of photography and probably the number one thing that people photograph. There are so many ways to create amazing images of people and we will cover so many different methods and ideas and hopefully spark curiosity and creativity among many of us.

What will we spend the day exploring? 

Hopefully, we will have a model for some part of the class with whom I will be working to show everyone what it’s like to capture using different ideas and techniques. We will also probably have time to go outdoors, close by on the UCLA campus and try some different lighting equipment to see how easily you can control and work with the light outside to get beautiful results that can mimic studio lighting indoors.

I will be bringing different kinds of camera and lighting gear to show what might be worthwhile to purchase… to achieve different results whether indoors or out. And although we won’t be shooting as a class, with all of the demonstrations by the instructor, much will be learned. We will also look at many photographs and discuss what makes them work.

What will I take away from this course?

One of the most important aspects of this course is learning how to feel and see light differently and understand the impact of light in your photographs. My goal is for everyone to realize the importance of light in your images as the definition of photography really is “painting with light”. It is absolutely the most crucial part of anyone’s photography but especially with portrait photography. Even the new iPhone 8 and X has some new portrait lighting methods…. and when you can start to understand the importance of what light can do….. and how you can work with that light to give you what you envision, you will have hopefully opened up a whole new world for your photography. There is so much to know about shooting people and especially the face and by the end of the class, hopefully everyone will have a much better understanding of what it takes to push your portrait photography in a new direction and give your images “Stopping Power “.

There’s nothing like a great portrait, no matter who is the subject. It’s been the most photographed subject of all time and the more you play…. the more you experiment… the easier it gets. We will be playing a lot in class!

Thanks, Scott!

Enroll in Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face today!

*Photography courtesy of Scott Stulberg

Course Spotlight: Web Coding Intensive Bootcamp

DCA instructor Mitch Gohman

This winter, we’re thrilled to debut an intensive web coding bootcamp course with veteran DCA instructor Mitch Gohman. Mitch tells us a bit more about what students can expect from this new course:

  1. Why is this course important for my design education?

    The modern website requires the ability to wield engaging, interactive applications. Even the most basic brochure websites require the ability to wield content (HTML), visual (CSS), and behavior (JavaScript). The demand for these technologies continues to increase, as each becomes more and more robust. Understanding these three technologies and how they work together as a team is an essential toolkit for any designer looking to take their skillsets to the next level.

  2. What’s the benefit of studying HTML, CSS, jQuery/JavaScript, frameworks, and responsive layouts in the bootcamp format instead of one by one?

    The ability to see how all of these technologies work together as a team gives the student a more comprehensive understanding of what is possible in the world of Web Design and Development. It also simulates the real-world in the sense that you would never only utilize one technology at a time. While learning one at a time can bring focus, it isn’t always easy to see how it fits into the whole.

  3. Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

    All of the work we do in class is project based. Rather than just lecturing theory, we learn the concepts through application. For example, learning HTML/CSS/JavaScript is easier to see when we apply it to a slideshow or form validator.

    Here are a couple of example lesson/projects we will be building.

  4. What will I take away from this course?
    • A strong understanding of HTML & CSS (content and appearance)
    • An intermediate understanding of jQuery/JavaScript (interactivity)
    • A clear understaning of Frameworks, Responsive Layouts and when to use them
    • Modern Web Design and Development trends and concepts (e.g. development process, constraints, optimization)
    • See these real-world skills applied to actual projects via guest professionals.

    Thanks, Mitch!

    Questions? Contact Kate Reeves for advising at dca@unex.ucla.edu.

    Enroll in Web Coding Intensive Bootcamp today!

    web design by DCA graduate Ena de Guzman

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