I introduced The Drawing Marathon in my last post. Click here to read it.
On the first day, we drew 10 22” x 22” drawings. We chose a model, drew his/her head 10 times and described the space it held and was held in. My classmates and I thought that was a lot of drawings of heads. Little did we know that would be the focus for the following two weeks.
The Drawing Marathon offered many challenges. Drawing all day, cutting heavy paper that just wanted to curl, gluing sheets together, stapling giant pieces of paper onto walls, getting charcoal everywhere, using a wall rather than an easel (made a complete 180 to study the models)… The most frustrating challenge, however, was mental. Instead of focusing on space and composition, I often obsessed over likeness. I felt compelled to concentrate on facial features rather than the over all composition. Self conscious, I wanted to prove that I could draw “well”. It was a huge distraction.
During one of the critiques Graham argued that most artists can be separated into two groups: “image makers” and “image searchers”. Picasso was an “image maker”. Cezanne was a “image searcher”. I am interested in exploring this concept… if you have any resource suggestions or opinions of your own, please share in the comments below.
Prior to the Drawing Marathon, I struggled with how to start. I thought it was essential to begin with a specific idea or concept. Working without a plan seemed frivolous or half assed. I was wrong. A drawing is legitimate even if its story is not apparent when the process begins. In other words, a work is no less powerful if its meaning is uncovered after the work has already begun.
The biggest surprise and greatest growth opportunity was the night I volunteered myself to demonstrate the next day’s assignment (draw a crowd using the the 10 heads we drew over the weekend) in front of the entire class. I had no idea what I was getting into. At most, I thought I would be sticking a couple of small drawings onto a larger piece of paper with tape and drawing a few planes and shapes to create the groundwork for a composition.
I was incorrect. After somewhat haphazardly throwing my 10 heads onto the massive blank sheet of paper, I waited for Graham’s instructions. Comfortably wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and a jean jacket, I had no idea I was about to draw vigorously across the sheet and nervously build a sweat for the next hour. Graham told me to redraw several of the heads 2-4x their size, add figures, hands and feet. I ran out of charcoal almost immediately. The TA’s helped me flip the drawing upside down two different times as directed. By the time I was finished, I had drawn for at least an hour in front the whole class. Prior to that I had never drawn in front of another person for more than 5 minutes.
The activity boosted my confidence and opened the possibility for play… even with people staring at me… (and, at least in my head, judging me).
Graham and his TA’s suggested I look closely at the work of Edvard Munch, Johannes Vermeer, Max Beckmann, Emile Nolde, van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Francis Bacon. Over the next few weeks, I will reading about their work and sharing the highlights on the blog.
Ninth Street Women, Mary Gabriel
Peter Plagens: Artist-Slash-Critic, Glasstire