Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015


As many of you know my art and teaching philosophy relies heavily on experience.  I have always been fond of the “monkey and typewriter theorem” and in my own work I have been pounding at the keys and turning out hundreds of pieces of art work. in hopes of producing something meaningful.  Exploration in the arts is a continual process.  Human beings, always seem to be searching for something, trying to gain an understanding of our world and ourselves. I view my work as a means of exploration, something that allows me to investigate, and contemplate my own inner experiences, thoughts, and emotions, as well as observations of the external world.
John Dewey in his book, Art as Experience , proposed that artistic expression is not "spontaneous."  “The mere spewing forth of emotion is not artistic expression. Art requires long periods of activity and reflection, and comes only to those absorbed in observing experience.  An artist's work requires reflection on past experience and a sifting of emotions and meanings from that prior experience. For an activity to be converted into an artistic expression, there must be excitement, turmoil and an urge from within to go outward.”  Art is expressive when there is complete absorption in the subject.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The gun

The gun is a weed: growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Ink drawing/digital collage. 2015

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Big plans.

In 1953, my freshman year at Belleville Township High School, I spent  many hours drawing cars. The car culture was in full swing and all young boys were dreaming of sleek custom “hot rods”. My ideas were influenced by the futuristic cars illustrated in Popular Mechanics magazine. My Grandpa had a huge collection of the magazines in his workshop. It was the first place I went  when we visited him in Coulterville, Illinois.  I would study the picture intently and dream of building a car.  There was an ad in one of the magazines about the Fisher Body car model contest. I sent for the information and received an envelop with all the details. My favorite part was the schematic .  I was able to locate one on the internet and it still gives me the sense of awe I felt as a teenager. I like plans and schematics. I still fill my drawings with symbols, lines and shapes that look like diagrams.

I was really anxious to start the build but money was tight and wood and paint for the model would be hard to buy. Also, I did not have the proper model tools or space for working.  I did manage to get some wood but it was not the smooth pine wood that was suggested and I tried carving it with a pen knife.  I would work many frustrating hours on the back stoop of our small house.  Sitting on the concrete  and carving. It was problematic  and dangerous. I suffered many cuts and scraped knees.  Well to make a long story short, I never finished the model.  I still think about that failure.  I had expectations of creating an award winning model and I would have a special assembly at school; all the students would marvel at my achievement.

I have come to realize that the car debacle was a learning experience and I  incorporated it into my life and teaching.  I have had many unfinished project. and many of my students struggled to finish projects. It sounds sort of quaint and old fashion to say “you learn from your failures” but I think it is true.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Isometric drawing.

I do not know it I have the necessary skills to write a book about art education but I have been compiling small snippets about my career in education and sharing them on Facebook. Tracing the twists and turns of my seventy-five year journey has been a enlightening experience. 

Of course, art teachers, course work, family and the creative process have been my main influences. When you dig deeper, small things reveal a complex network of influences. In high school, I was an average student hoping to go to college. The men in my family were laborers, farmers, railroad workers and mine workers. I was encouraged to obtain a skill.  Most students in my situation enrolled in “shop classes”. During the 1950’s the vocational education department was popular. Auto shop classes and drafting classes were very popular.  One of my favorite classes was Mechanical drawing. Projects were drawing on light green paper with specific borders and precise lettering which were called “plates” Neat rows of helvetica letters indicated the title of each projects. Clean drawings with tracing paper cover sheets were very important. I remember the Thomas E. French textbook illustrations and the wonder of isometric drawing (the word seems prophetic ). I was a good students and learned to be neat  and precise. That element is very evident in my work today and do enjoy detailed work with no erasures. 

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Alien biology series. Digital images.© "Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2013 © Ronald D. Isom, S...