“You need your teacher to critique, and sometimes, they’ll even draw right on your work,” said Rachel Styer, a junior studying art, with an emphasis in Illustration.
On campus, her professors would provide class time for students to critique and comment on each other’s work, a class-time pastime that is harder to accommodate in Zoom meetings.
Styer had a feeling the school would go online for the spring semester, so she scheduled most of her classes online. Her figure drawing class – which teaches fundamental skills – was not offered online, and she worried it would be canceled.
“Next year I’m a senior,” Styer said. “Why would I be taking a fundamental class as a senior?”
Figure drawing, when taught on campus, hires models to help the students learn various techniques for depicting the human figure. Via Zoom, the class now uses 2-D images for reference as the students draw.
Styer’s oil painting class has not experienced changes to the course assignments but has found issues with obtaining needed supplies. Gamsol, an artist-grade paint thinner needed to thin oil paints — making them easier work with — is hard to find.
“A lot of students don’t have their art supplies because they’re non-essential, and they’re back-ordered until June,” Styer said.
For now industrial paint thinner is the only option. She put a quarter-inch of it into a short, wide mason jar, and gets a migraine from the smell every time she leaves it open for more than a minute.
“I’m putting in extra hours of work, and then being critiqued based off of something I don’t have,” Styer said.
She has found that remote learning does have some benefits though, as one of her professors uses technology to better demonstrate new techniques. He positions a camera so the students can see him painting, and another so students can also see the palette he uses.
“Now I can see him from all angles at the same time,” Styer said. “I don’t have to push my way to the front of a crowd.”
Anna Chapman, a junior studying fine arts, has also experienced the silence of remote learning. Her courses on campus were intimate, and she became friends with students who shared a few classes with her.
“To not hear the whole class laughing when the professor makes a funny comment — the lack of camaraderie — is hard,” Chapman said.
On campus, her photography classes would have the students print out their work to present to each other. Being online, she has to make sure it fits on I-Learn, which can result in lower quality photos.
“I need to learn how to make a file smaller so it can be seen online in its full glory and not take up a ton of space,” she said.
Some students lack access to the required technology, such as scanners, that are usually provided on campus. Chapman’s professors have been accommodating for the students by arranging alternative assignments. For other projects that require students to create their own at-home lab, Chapman said her professors try to keep the costs low.
Her at-home lab project requires the use of chemicals to make paper photosensitive material. She has had to purchase these items, as well as ensure she had space for her lab project.
“This is wild and so crazy… and we’ve never experienced something like this before,” Chapman said. “So, no one is expecting perfection out of this situation.”