AWOL – but with a couple of excuses

One should not be a blogger and be absent without leave for months at a time.  What it means in my case is that personal projects too often get cast aside as other projects take precedence.  There were some bright spots and hard work though.  I was part of a team writing several grant proposals.  Two out of three where I played a role were fully funded.  One produced a yellow light and the granting body wanted us to come back to answer questions – which we can. In May I visited Harvard for the first time to celebrate a graduation in the family.  Two inspirations came out of that.  I posted an article on Medium about the Harvard visit that was picked up by others. And I was so inspired by higher learning that I looked at some Harvard/MIT MOOCs in the fall.  In the interim I signed up for a course on Coursera on surrealist art out of the University of Pennsylvania – and as of today I have graduated with distinction.

Online courses are well worth a try.  Most who sign up of course never finish them. The only real requirement is self discipline and determination to learn – and you are responsible solely to yourself.  My course included readings, videos, quizzes and studio assignments.  There were two of the last required to graduate with distinction.  I did five.  I have done art courses at an excellent school but there are advantages in the online process.  In my local art school, one basically had to complete a project (usually a still life or portrait in pastels) in a three hour time frame.  In this case I took as much time as I needed – and I was able to stretch the assignments over a week. Here is one example:

Choose a portrait
Choose a portrait in black and white
Recreate it using torn paper from newspapers or magazines
Recreate it using torn paper from newspapers or magazines
Close up
Close up

The studio assignments included mainly collages based on the historical aspect of the course. Assessment of one’s work was by peers. I was gratified both with the responses to my own work and the opportunity to assess the work of others. It was a chance to learn to be a good and fair critic.  Mail art was fun too.

2013-06-15 16.53.35

While the course was an introductory one, I now feel that I have a context for modern work that I didn’t have in the past.  So now I’ll move on to song writing and jazz improvization.  But I’ll try to write about the experience as I go.

And what about the media history – probably online is not the best place to do it – but it is still on the to-do list.