It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a figure drawing session, perhaps since college. I thought I wouldn’t like it, but maybe I’ve learned some things since then. Maybe I’ve also learned some things from one of my favorite drawing books, The Tao of Sketching.
With only five or ten minutes to make a drawing, it seems you should just jump right in and draw as fast and as much as you can. But last night, I found myself sitting back and looking around the entire room. At the other people and things in the room.
Asking what most interests me about this particular pose? How does the pose relate to the room?
Is there a mood to the pose?
What can I add to recreate the mood or moment?
What in the room do I want to include? Leave out?
How can I make an interesting composition?
How big is my page? My pen?
Should I add color or shading?
I just imagined it might be a little like a rooftop assassin surveys a scene, taking in everything and then waiting for the right time to strike.
These are all short poses with the same model from last night’s session.
Early Saturday morning before dawn, we started the morning with poetry, bird calls, and frost on our feet.
It was part of a sound installation sponsored by ideaXfactory designed and led by Gerard Nadeau of Drury University’s architecture department called Morning Song Evening Song. Starting Friday evening with a workshop led by Greater Ozarks Audubon members, we each put a wooden Audubon bird call on an orange ideaXfactory lanyard around our neck and headed up to Park Central Square.
There at sunset, we spread through the First Friday Art Walk crowd and started a slow symphony of bird calls noises, first a few, then many. Then more, then faded away.
The next morning we assembled at the ideaXfactory at 6 am, shared bagels and coffee and headed to the West Meadows future greenways park site.
In the wet grass, Kate read bird poetry, then we started the morning crescendo of bird calls and watched the sunrise over the Grant Street bridge. The morning experience was much different, and I think, much more profound than the evening.
After it was all over, Ed Filmer showed up to video, so we got to do it all again. And I had time to make another drawing.
This Friday I had planned on drawing a sound installation sponsored by the ideaXfactory (more on that later) but it turned out to be harder than I thought. So instead I drew some other interesting things that happened downtown on the First Friday Art Walk. There were a lot of people eating green cake as they walked around Park Central Square…
Turns out Park Central Library was hosting an “Edible Books” event, and they had asked local cake shops to make Call of the Wild cakes. The biggest one was made like mountains covered with green pines trees. There was a whole row of ladies cutting and giving away slices of cake. I must say I was a bit relieved as I had originally thought people were eating parsley cake.
The library was so crowded, it was hard to draw because people trying to get free cake kept bumping into me. I went back outside and saw this young guy spinning fire. The fire glowed nicely against the twilight sky, and so did the string lights hanging across Park Central East. There was a couple wearing hoodies sitting on the edge of the fountain. I would have stayed longer, but it was so cold outside that I couldn’t draw a non-shaky line.
Back at the ideaXfactory, there was a silent art auction going on organized by a lot of Drury University folks to raise money for Rare Breed. They had installed a beautiful folded paper installation on the ceiling for the upcoming Saturday night Drury Beaux Arts Ball, and the paper walls of the temporary gallery also glowed with changing colored light. A DJ wearing fingerless gloves played electronic music for the Friday night auction preview. In the glow of the “cloud” installation, it was a popular spot all evening long.
Over at Art & Letters, a collaborative show organized by Meganne had an opening. She has started about 20 ink on canvas and paper paintings, then asked other local painters to finish them.
Cattywampus was playing in the corner in front of Christiano Bellotti’s painting.
Ryan Dunn of Smokey Folk played a few songs with the band.
I really thought I knew this woman in front of a Tyler Estes and Meganne Rosen O’Neal painting. Turns out I know her sister! The best part about ending up at Arts & Letters was Russ and I had great luck at finding some funky retro clothes for the Beaux Arts Ball on Saturday.
Finally! Beautiful weather for a whole weekend, so we rode and walked on trails both days at Crystal Bridges. A family from India was visiting, the father on one side of the stream telling his daughters across the water how to pose for a photo.
These were all about 5 to 10 minutes sketches with a brush pen, colored with watercolors later. I didn’t know Russ took a photo of me sketching until I saw this on Instagram!
Looking out a window to a Mark di Suvero sculpture — a little tricky to draw!
From inside the museum, an interesting view of the outdoor plaza through a cast polyester “Big Red Lens” by Frederick Eversley. The whole scene becomes a puzzle to draw, and probably doesn’t make much sense. I got confused myself and drew trees on the ceiling which I had to cover up later with cross-hatching.
Out on the plaza, there’s a funny orange-red Keith Haring sculpture. A museum staff person was passing out drawing boards, paper, pastels and pencils to invite the public to draw.
At first I saw more people looking at their phones. Then Russ got into the act, so I sat down too and drew some more.
Eventually I noticed a group of five girls, all with drawing boards. Some looked like they were seriously drawing.
How interesting the plaza bowl was so large, and yet with all that room to spread out, they sat squished together so tightly, their boards almost touching.
This guy sitting under a pavilion watching his kids was funny too. “You kids go run around the trails about five more times. And DON’T PICK THE FLOWERS!”
Russ surprised me with a weekend getaway, and we loaded our bikes onto our new bike rack and headed south. Riding around on the Compton Gardens and CrystalBridges trails, Russ was determined to see a new sculpture that he read about at the entrance. After several trails and up many hills, we chanced upon this crazy installation of hay people by Tom Otterness.
“Makin’ Hay” is a series of sculptures made of bales of hay by Otterness in Montana in 2002 as part of a friendly hay contest. Later acquired by the Alturas Foundation, the sculptures have been exhibited in many places and must be newly arrived at Crystal Bridges because it’s not mentioned anywhere on the website.
The whole thing was a total surprise as we had the fortunate opportunity to visit Otterness’s studio several years ago during an ISC Conference. Seeing so many of his roly-poly urban bronze figures there, I had no idea he had made these hay sculptures.
Not only that, but happening upon the installation by way of a back door trail rather than the entrance to Crystal Bridges was perfect!
It’s also a good thing we were on our bikes, because these sculptures and the hay field installation were huge. So trekking across tractor ruts to get to the farthest hay woman was rough, but do-able.
Here are some drawings I did last night at Arts & Letters Alternative Figure Drawing night. I like going to these things, but tend to back away from the crowd so I can also draw the drawers. It’s interesting to look at what materials people bring to draw with and how they hold their hands.
Also it gives me a chance to fill in some background elements that add color and balance the composition. Sometimes I’m completely off on my composition, proportions, and scale, but I like to draw with a brush pen because the mistakes become part of the drawing. People move around and you just have to adapt, which gives the drawing it’s own sort of internal life.
Sometimes I’m completely off topic, as when I noticed on the sidelines, Laura was crocheting in the most graceful way, and I was fascinated watching her hands.
Arts & Letters is Springfield’s newest downtown gallery and eclectic boutique, but one of the co-owners is Meganne Rosen O’Neal who has long been involved in our arts community. I’ve worked with her much over the last year and half on various committees, but most frequently Russ and I have worked her as we created the ideaXfactory and on various PechaKucha Springfield events.
So it seems funny to me that I drew her before I knew her. Several years ago she was one of the people behind this Art Factory 417 alternative figure drawing event that I blogged about several years ago. So even if I had known her, I wouldn’t have recognized her behind the bunny mask!
For Valentine’s Day I got a new iPad — well actually I had to wait a month before the new iPad came out, but it was definitely worth the wait! The new iPad has a great camera so I’m trying a new process where I take a photo of my sketchbooks with the iPad camera and then trace the drawing in InkPad, which is an iPad app.
I’m getting better at drawing directly on the iPad using both a stylus and my finger. These angels are traces of my hand doodles, and the woman I call Louise was drawn completely on the iPad.
All these different sources of drawings I combine into a single drawing that becomes a large pattern for a new quilt. This print was the end of the roll, so we had to squeeze it onto the last bit of paper.
Russ also helped me because the imported drawings from the iPad had different line widths and color characteristics, and it was tricky stuff to get them all to look the same. Not that it really matters since this is a pattern for a new quilt, but I do like my patterns to look nice while I’m working with them. So thanks Russ!
Also, we’ve got more big paper on order, so I’ve got to get back to the drawing board…
Of the many things I’m thankful for today, one is getting my blog back. I’m sorry to all you that have tried to visit in the last couple of weeks and gotten the scary Google warnings. And thanks to everyone who contacted me about them. It’s funny how you can take things for granted, but someone tries to take it away, it gets really precious again!
Lesson learned – and hopefully my experience will remind all you bloggers out there to keep your WordPress installation and plugins up-to-date. Now I know why there are frequent updates to WordPress and will pay more attention to them. I think one of my plugins needed a security update, and before I realized it, some fishy stuff got installed into my blog. Google safe browsing diagnostics says the site didn’t infect any others, and I sure hope that’s true.
PaMdora often has less than heroic adventures with technology, as in the early PaMdora’s Box and more recently, the deep sea Tango with a Technopus. So this little journal sketch came pretty easily and sincerely. On the bright side of things — I have been wanting to draw a rolling desk chair into a story.