Month: April 2014

Exquisite Corpse

A drawing done as a collaboration becomes something bigger than the sum of its parts once you put all those parts together. In this exercise, I assigned each of four students a section of the figure and assigned them a scale (1 head=9 inches). They each worked on their own drawing from life, standing side by side in front of the model. A little bit of stretching out was inevitable, since the point of view shifted slightly down the row, but I think that adds a subtle Cubist touch.

Master copies make great collaborative exercises, too. It’s like you’re adding another collaborator, a REALLY good one, and upping the game a bit. This is Honore Daumier‘s lithograph, “L’association mensuelle” covered by four students last year. The upper right portion is entirely made of glitter.


A few years ago I worked as the visual arts coach for ACT Theatre‘s production of the Pitmen Painters. Immediately following the first reading, the actors donned aprons and were thrown directly into painting, just like their coal miner characters in the story. Since the real-life miners had a fondness for Van Gogh (he had lived in mining towns and also shared some of the miners’ provincial spirit, in a good way), I chose Vincent’s Bedroom at Arles. I distributed color printouts of sections of the painting to each actor, taught them to use a grid to copy their bit onto a canvas board, gave them some brushes and previously-mixed acrylic paints and let ’em have at it. The result was actually quite respectable, especially when you consider it was done in about an hour and a half:


Get outside while you can!

My fabulous UW Drama class got off to an excellent start, with my usual cohort of grad designers joined by three relative neophytes to life drawing, including acting professor Jeffrey Frace (that is, he is a professor of acting, not pretending to be a professor or filling in for some other more authentic professor). Jeffrey is there as part of his research for a play about an artist, which he is both writing and performing in.

The human figure’s relationship to their surroundings is a key component of designing for the theatre, and also of the narrative paintings that I make. Traditionally, life drawing is taught in a hermetically sealed non-place, figures floating in space or on a nondescript stand. This reinforces our emotional predisposition to see only what we came there to draw, which inhibits our ability to actually see that very well. I have to force people to draw the chair to keep the model from appearing to be levitating. One way to get used to drawing surroundings is to take the class to interesting ones. If it’s a nice day, we usually decamp to some nearby architectural feature and draw the model there(clothed, of course, this is a public university not some hippie college). Even total beginners can take the first few drawing tricks I taught them and apply them to busy, complicated subject matter.

spencer in the foster courtyarddrawing outside in aprilstudent drawings

Drywall Chevrons at Lowe’s

Pattern is everywhere, and it can punctuate an otherwise boring trip to Lowe’s with a moment of beauty and wonder. Imagine my delight when I turned the corner from the lumber department and came across these stunning piles of drywall arranged artfully in the humble, yet hip, chevron pattern in two colorways, with a possible third green variety coming when they restock.