explore. experience. expand.
Tag Archives: fine art

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.

Instructor Interview: Sophia Allison

We knew artist Sophia Allison would be a great fit for our students when she showed us the lucha libre costumes she had sewn from a variety of household and commercial products. She’ll bring that creativity, enthusiasm and unique vision to her class Experiments in Drawing this summer.

We talked to Sophia about her influences, her work, and her advice for the would-be artists out there.

01_SAllison_Blue Ridge III (front view)

Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?

For the past few years, I have been creating work that has to do with the physical and emotional landscape in which I was raised-specifically, the western North Carolina area. I work in a variety of media including sewing, paper-cut installations, cardboard/recycled materials and collage. Much of the work has many small components that make up a larger whole-one could say that there’s a bit of an ocd quality in all of my projects.

One of my on-going preoccupations has been a series of sewn landscape vignettes that reference specific locations on and around my family’s property in Western NC. Placing a printed digital image on fabric, I repetitively sew through the paper, forcing it into the fibers of the fabric, destroying the paper and recreating the image with thread on the opposite side of the material. The effect is two-fold: on one side, the landscape is clearly articulated; on the other, the paper image is obliterated leaving loose threads and uneven textures. The image is simultaneously destroyed and built up; it is recognized as a snapshot of a specific location and at the same time, it becomes fragmented and abstracted like a fading memory. These works are displayed so that both the front and back sides are visible.

Additionally, I have been creating a series of sculptures that are inspired by the Blue Ridge mountains. I cut up several hundred pieces of cardboard into rough, small rectangles and glue these together using foam core as a base between each section. The overall effect is an abstracted shape with undulating ridges like a mountain. I leave the cardboard unpainted; the variations in tone and color of the cardboard elevate the material beyond its humble, fragile quality. The works appear to be quite heavy and voluminous when in fact they are hollow and light-weight.

Untitled (Redgates skyview) back

Who are some artists that you admire and how have they influenced your work?

I am drawn to artists that can work fluidly across a variety of media but turn the traditional on its head, like within the work of Pae White or Tim Hawkinson; I am always amazed at how Tim can take almost anything-plastic bags, cardboard, old tubes (to name a few items) and create incredibly elaborate, conceptual works that transcend the sum of their parts. As a bonus, his work is a big draw to people who don’t necessarily like art-I love that! I am a big fan of materials and am attracted to artists’ works that are visually stunning but then have a lot of layers to dig through-work that continues to reveal itself; these works act as a one-two punch–first to your eyes and then to your brain. An artist I recently became familiar with- Elizabeth Higgins O’Connor- uses materials like old sheets, blankets, scrap wood, thread and cut-up furniture to create large assemblage sculptures of strange animal-doll hybrids. I am also influenced by artists who use craft-aesthetics within their works such as Mark Newport. His embroidered comic book covers are beautiful as are his knit super hero costumes.

When teaching art, do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?

Oh, definitely! Continuing education is wonderful because, in my experience, most folks are coming to class with a very open perspective on things as well as a bit of maturity-in other words, they know themselves well and are ready to try anything and be receptive to new ideas and art experiences. Often times, some of these folks have not had much formal training in art-making or they are getting back into it after taking a break from it – which makes the class (and teaching it) all the more exciting. I’ve found that some of my best students came to my class as “non-art” people or not art majors; they turned out to be the ones that were most adventurous with class projects and had fresh ideas. Undergrad is usually a time for a person to start finding their academic footing and interests in what they want to do professionally-try a bit of everything and see what is appealing. Also, the typical undergrad is usually younger so they don’t necessarily have the same world experiences that many continuing education students have. In graduate school, students are honing in on a specific focus/thesis, so there’s not as much time for experimentation.

What do you hope students walk away from your class with?

I hope students will come away with an enthusiasm for drawing (and art-making in general) and a willingness to be open to new ways of thinking about art and creating work. Drawing has taken on a new life in the past few decades with more non-traditional media and concepts being explored and utilized but many underlying foundation principles still apply. Also, I hope students will learn to trust themselves in their art-making decisions and take chances that they may not have otherwise. Hopefully they’ll see that it’s perfectly OK to take a risk and fail, as long as they learned something from it and can apply this new information to their next art-making experience. One of my teaching goals is to provide students with technical and conceptual tools that they can have at-the-ready—to broaden their “art-toolbox” so they have more choices and approaches to utilize as they create work.

 

landscape

What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing art as a serious hobby or profession?

Make art, make art and then make some more. I think there’s this false notion that in order to do art, one needs to be “gifted” or have a knack for it. What it takes is A LOT of hard work, time and a real love and true dedication to it. If you don’t like and enjoy what you are doing, how will others? There are many ways to pursue art as a profession, but it does require lots of time in the studio-time spent creating and thinking about the work one is making. It’s important too to have people see and talk to you about what you’re doing and not be too isolated in one’s studio practice; as an artist, it’s easy to work in a bubble and forget the world, but having people take a look at your work is a necessity.

Also, I think it’s very important to look at art in the flesh. Looking at images on-line and in books is great, but they aren’t substitutes for seeing art in person. It’s an entirely different experience to spend time with a work of art right in front of your nose and immerse yourself in it, trying to understand it and what the artist was doing/thinking when he made the piece. With a great work of art, this can be an almost spiritual experience!

 

Instructor Interview: Nick Brown

eye browThis summer we’re happy to welcome new instructor Nick Brown. He’ll be teaching Introduction to 2D Materials and Techniques, a great class if you don’t have a background in fine art and are looking to get some helpful fundamental skills in a variety of media. Nick attended School of the Art Institute of Chicago,  and has had his work shown at The Drawing Center, NY; P.S. 122, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; and The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL.

By way of introduction, I asked Nick to share some thoughts about art school, his current work, and what he hopes students will accomplish in his class.

Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?

Currently, I am working on a series of large-scale oil paintings based on stone chimneys in the snow. They are remnants of a high mountain community. I also have an ongoing series of red pastel drawings. These are predicated on personal imagery and feel dreamlike and foreboding.

Are there other artists who have influenced your style and interests?

There are many artists who have influenced me over the years. The ones I mostly return to worked in the middle to late 1800’s. They are often categorized as Romanticist and Symbolist artists. James Ensor and Gustave Moreau are big favorites. Goya doesn’t fit the former description but is also amazing. Haiku poetry is another source I enjoy especially for its economy and directness. Music that is driven by tone and atmosphere is also very important to me. I’ve reached a point now though where I no longer think of other artists as I work. The knowledge drawn from their work informs subconsciously I think.
 

You have an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What was the art school experience like for you?

Attending SAIC was great. I actually went twice, for undergrad and grad. I was exposed to so many ideas and ways of working. That combined with a dedicated period of time in which to concentrate solely on art was very important. I think it heightens your technical skills, deepens your thinking and the whole process of learning becomes expedited. I would encourage any student to follow that path. Hopefully we learn our entire lives. Why not be immersed in a pursuit with little distraction.

How are you planning to approach teaching your summer class. Do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?

The summer course will be structured with demonstrations and critiques. There will be quite a bit of working time in class. The environment should be very sociable with dialog between the students as well as with me. I look forward to a lot of discussion. Continuing education is unique in that many students work full time. They have specifically chosen a particular class rather than say one that just fulfills a requirement like an undergrad student might. I think this engenders an amount of intensity and focus. People are really seeking this knowledge out.

 

What do you hope students walk away from your class with?

I want students to have the confidence to make work on their own and enjoy the process of discovery inherently involved in making art.

 

 

windows-10-key windows-10-iso windows-10-product-key windows-10-activation-key windows-10-pro-key windows-10-education-key windows-10-enterprise-key windows-10-home-key windows-7-key-sale windows-10-key windows-7-key office-2016-key office-2013-key office-2010-key