MW Calendar


Note: Projects are always due at the beginning of class.   Journals are due along with each project (midnight via email). These dates are tentative and may change. If I have not announced a change, it is your responsibility to get the work in on the due date.

All written assignments/journals are due in class or via email by midnight on their due dates below. Email assignments to

For questions outside of class email me at or text 917-740-7398 or make an appointment with me.

Class Projects
Project 1, Non-Object: Mon. 2/9
Project 2, Representational Self-Portrait: W 2/23 Primary Contour, basic measurements and eye sockets
M 2/23 Skull
W 2/25 Skull/Muscles
M 3/2 Muscles/skin
W 3/4 Features
M 3/18 Finish Features/Hair
W 3/23 Due!
Fired and Sealed/Painted head:
Project 3, Substitution Cast Metal:
Project 4, Abstraction Wood Construction:

Homework Project,
Content Based Assemblage: 5/4
Research/Journal (example images and 1.5 pages on 3 possible topics)  4/8
Project due and remaining journal: 5/4

Artist Research Paper: 2/2
Self research Paper: 3/2
Assemblge Journal Step 1-2: 4/8
Gallery Paper: 4/15
Assemblage Journal Step 3-4: 5/4

Final Crits: 5/20

Objective:  To create a free-standing piece of sculpture out of wood that uses at least two of the listed joints (without nails or screws) listed in the handout.  There should be something about the nature of your composition that emphasizes lines and planes and creates strong directional forces.  You should use the joints as focal or emphasis points within the piece.  The piece should be predominately aesthetic, however it may have a function if it is not at all obvious.  The sculpture must be fully three-dimensional with the back, front and sides being equally interesting.  The sculpture should be abstracted from an actual form(s).  If you add height+width+depth the measurement should be greater than 40 inches or over 24 inches tall. The subject of the sculpture should convey emotional or conceptual content. It should tell a story about the subject or convey the emotions you feel about the images that you are abstracting. The subject matter should be something that you relate to on a personal level. IT SHOULD NOT BE REPRESENTATIONAL. Although you are using real objects as inspiration, they should be altered significantly from the original forms.

Step 1:  Find at least three different images/objects/forms that you find interesting enough to use as a base for a sculpture.  Create drawings of the images sending it through the process of abstraction by reorganizing the visual information.  You may want to consider combining more than one image.  Basically, I want you translate the visual information into your own language and create a “visual poem” with these images.  What story does it tell? Try adding and subtracting areas, try breaking the forms down into geometric or organic shapes. Refer to the methods that artists used to abstract sculpture discussed in the art history lecture.  Begin to think of the piece in three dimensions as it relates to wood – will it gain mass through layers?  Will it be a contained volume?  Will it be an open form with a great deal of negative space?  Focus the path that the viewer’s eye will move through the form. Where will the eye linger and create emphasis points? How is the eye guided and what forms are in subordination? How is the form balanced – symmetrical or asymmetrical? Consider how the form displays the subject and conveys content. 

Complete detailed drawings of at least three different sculptures, choose your favorite to construct in wood.  Next I want you to create at least two different 3D models using cardboard.  At this point you will need to think seriously about measurements and thickness of wood so that you can buy your wood.

Step 2: Using handsaws, chisels and glue, assemble the structure of your sculpture. You may use chisels, rasps and files to develop more organic forms.  To develop more geometric forms, use hand planes and sandpaper.  You may incorporate other materials into the final piece of sculpture (hinges, motors, wire, plaster ect.)  Put a finish on the wood using stains, varnishes, waxes or paints.   (100 pts.)

Required Materials: Journal. Several wood boards – recommend soft woods such as pine (white is better than yellow), douglas fir, spruce or redwood; of the hardwoods primarily alder, basswood or birch.  The least expensive choice will be pine or fir.  You may use other hardwoods, however they are more expensive and harder to work by hand.

Wood glue.  Sandpaper.   Stains, paints, varnishes or waxes.  You may bring other materials into the piece, however the structure must be primarily wood.
If this is your first time working with wood, I suggest using white pine or fir.
Make sure your boards are straight and have few knots. Buy the wood in the thickness you want to use. I suggest buying wood 1 inch or thinner – a good size to start with is a 1″x6″ that is at least 6 feet long. 2″x4″s and 4″x4″ are too thick for many of our saws so I would avoid them.

You may use “found” wood. Please remove all nails and screws BEFORE using any of my saws. Keep in mind that if you use tree branches, you will have to cut them by hand.

Best local sources for wood:
White pine or Douglas fir are inexpensive good “beginner” woods for a construction project. You are welcome to use any wood that came from a tree. Boards that are less than 1″ thick are usually easier to use. Make a model first – that will tell you how much wood to use. You may use found wood, however any nails or screws must be removed first. Tree branches must be cut by hand.

  • Woodshed, 850 Lincoln, Clovis
  • White Pine Lumber, 4392 N Blackstone

Journal Questions:

  1. Xerox/Print at least ten pieces of sculpture that are abstract.  Label each with Artist Name and the object that they abstracted from (bird, person ect.).  Find at least three pieces of sculpture that use wood with a construction/joinery process.
  2. Create a detailed drawing of your piece.  Label the directional forces and emphasis points.  Include your original idea drawings in your journal.
  3. Define abstraction.  What objects/things is your abstraction based on?  What elements of the original image(s) have you changed?  How?
  4. Sketch the joints you have chosen.  What are their names?
  5. Define Asymmetrical and Symmetrical Balance.  How have you used them in your sculpture?  Label them on your drawing.
  6. Describe at least two historical movements of abstraction? What movement is your piece most like and how?
  7. What is the difference between emphasis and subordination?  What are your emphasis points?  Where have you used subordination?
  8. What is the difference between form, subject and content? How have you used each in your piece?
  9. Is the piece fully 3-D with all sides equally interesting?  Why is this important in a piece of sculpture?

wood joints

Objective:  To create an assemblage sculpture out of found objects that is visually interesting and portrays a message.  Your objective is two-fold.  First is to create a fully three-dimensional sculpture that unifies the objects.  Second is that the sculpture somehow portrays a message or concept.

You should pay special attention to composition and the principles of design, especially directional forces within this sculpture – there should be something about the way you use form which guides you through the form and to your chosen theme.  The scale should not be any smaller than 30” if you add height+width+depth.

Step 1:  Choose 3 ideas issues or concepts you find important/interesting to you.  Write one 1/3-1/2 page on each. In each section first define the subject clearly. Second explain why the issue is important to you personally (why would you be willing to walk around with a sign promoting the topic). Lastly describe some of the images and objects you associate with the concept.

Step 2:  Bring in a group of at least three found objects.  These objects should be visually interesting on their own and can come from anywhere except your own home or anyone related to you.  Dumpsters, junkyards, thrift stores and parks are good places to start.  You should spend time looking for interesting objects as opposed to spending money.  Document where you found each item (photo or receipt). You will receive extra credit for constructing this piece without spending any money, however you may not use anything you already own or anyone related to you already owns.  You may not use any material that is considered a raw material, such as a board from the lumber store.  Instead you should look to already created objects for your raw materials, such as a couch for fabric, wood and springs.   One of your found objects may include steel.  If there is time, you will receive a demonstration on tje cutting torch.

Step 3: Using drawings, begin to associate the objects together to create an interesting visual image.  Choose from your original ideas the message or meaning you want the viewer to receive from your sculpture and write a description of this concept in your journal that is at least one full page long.  Show through drawings and/or writing five ways this concept could be portrayed. It is important that the design of this image be as strong as the concept.   When you are designing the piece you should look at it as if it were non-objective.  Does the form uses directional forces?  Does it balance positive and negative space?  Is there unity or too much variety?   Do not be tempted to be too literal with your ideas and do not create a diorama or relief sculpture  — the image should stand alone without the concept.  Think about portraying your idea in a poetic manner like a haiku.

Step 4: Incorporate the objects into a piece of sculpture.  You may alter or manipulate the original objects anyway you wish.  Think of your objects as resources for raw materials and do not get caught up in what the object actually is.  A hairdryer is a source for wire, screws and plastic shapes as well as an electrical cord.  You may incorporate any other materials you wish to your final sculpture.  You may use one piece of steel that you have cut with a torch.  These may include carved plaster, wire, wood, clay, cast objects etc. or any found items – these items should be already finished objects that are commercially available (anything from a toaster to an old doll for example).  You may not reuse sculptures you have already created.  You may not use any “raw” materials such as boards from a lumber yard (you could however salvage boards from an old table for example) or powdered plaster or un-fired clay.

Required Materials: Journal, at least three objects, any other found or manipulated materials you choose to add.

Journal questions (50 POINTS) – note the the first two are due before the project and the second two is due with the project.

  1. Write 1/3-1/2+ page each about different three ideas that are important to you (totaling 1 1/2-2 pages). Specifically, choose 3 ideas issues or concepts you find important/interesting to you.  In each section first define the subject clearly. Second explain why the issue is important to you personally (why would you be willing to walk around with a sign promoting the topic). Lastly describe some of the images and objects you associate with the concept. .
  2. Xerox/print at least 10 examples of assemblage sculpture.
  3. two full pages of writing about chosen idea and how you will portray it + drawings.
  4. Xerox/Print at least 5 examples of Art that share the same topic.

Step 1:  Go to one of the Gallery’s on the list below and choose one piece of sculpture to evaluate.  Create detailed drawings of the piece from at least three views to be turned in with the paper (these should be drawings – I am not grading you on quality of the drawings. Photograph the drawings and include them with your email.  Also acquire a copy of a show bill or postcard from the gallery and turn it in with your paper. If the gallery permits (ask), iIn addition to the drawings, you may include photographs of the sculpture.

Step 2:  List the artist’s name, the media, date of work and location.

Step 3:  Write several paragraphs describing the artists work.  Use the visual elements in your description: line, shape, plane, mass, space, volume, color, light, time, motion, texture and pattern. (descriptive critique)

Step 4:  Write several paragraphs analyzing how the artist uses the principles of design in his/her work such as:  Emphasis and Subordination, Unity and Variety, Contrast, Balance (symmetrical and asymmetrical), Repetition and Rhythm, Directional Forces, Economy, Proximity, Transitions, Scale and Proportion. (cause and effect critique)

You have been discussing the form of the piece. At this point you should expand your discussion to let the viewer know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the subject matter is (if you have not already).  You should also let the reader know if the piece is representational, abstract or non-objective.  You should also give the viewer some clues as to the process of construction – additive, subtractive or substitution.

Step 5:  Write several paragraphs expanding your discussion to the content of the artists work.  This should delve into the deeper meaning of the artwork and how it effects the viewers.  You may want to observe other peoples reactions to the piece as well as your own.

Step 6:  Write a concluding paragraph describing your own opinions of the artist’s work.  This should be in the greatest strength/unrealized potential format.

The paper should be typed, double spaced and two or more pages long.  You should use complete sentences and check your grammar.  The language lab is available to help you, if you need it.

Gallery Locations:

  1. Fresno Art   Museum, 2233 N. First St.
  2. African American Historical and Cultural Museum, 1857 Fulton St.
  3. Arte Americas, 1630 Van Ness
  4. Chris Sorenson Studio/Gallery, 2205 S. Van Ness 237-4934 **** (usually open mid-day)
  5. Gallery 25, 660 Van Ness Ave.
  6. Fig Tree Gallery, 644 Van Ness Ave.
  7. Studio 74, 1274 N. Van Ness Ave.

You can also go to places on the Art hop list, but check with me first:
Fresno Art Hop List

You should have at least 12 or so pictures taken from all major views. Make sure you take extra pictures from the front and profile. These are very important to get right. Take extra detail shots of your features. If you do not have a shaved/ bald head, take one set with your hair wet and pulled back. Take a second set with your hair styled. Do not cut the top or back of your head off. Make sure you shoot against a neutral background. Make sure the camera is held a the same height as your eyes (not above or below).


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