I have a lot of painting projects going on at the moment. On the easel I have: two acrylic paintings drawn and ready to paint, a watercolor almost ready to begin painting on, a second watercolor sketched but not ready for painting, a large oil painting drawn and ready to paint and a second large oil waiting to be drawn. Of course I also have a good 20 other painting ideas that are ready to be fleshed out as soon as the queue in front clears out. With all this mountain of painting work in front of me it only makes sense then that I have been sneaking in some unrelated drawing projects since I have so much free time. (That is sarcasm, I have two children which means I never ever ever have free time)
The first drawing was created as I was teaching in school as part of a project my students did with the Museum of Modern Art. I was fortunate that when I began teaching the school I was hired at had a partnership with MoMA. Being that I was not the biggest fan of any kind of modern art the partnership opened up a whole new appreciation for some of the kinds of work that MoMA represents. Not everything, just some of if.
As part of this partnership my students take a trip to MoMA with me, the art teacher, and then a MoMA educator comes to my class and we make a work of art based loosely on the things we saw on our trip. They also take a second visit with their English class and again have a in class visit to create a different work based on that visit as well. It is an awesome opportunity and has led to some really really great projects over the years. So this year when we took our trip to MoMA one of the works we looked at and talked about was the following:
This is Joan Miro’s “Self Portrait 1”, a pretty cool work. The art project we did based on this portrait was a kind of mixed media drawing. First we coated a sheet of paper with cray-pas in various colors and textures. Next we applied a layer of white acrylic paint with a piece of cardboard to once again create a variety of texture. Then, one the paint dried, we drew self portraits from memory using charcoal. (I must point out I didn’t come up with this process. Lisa, the MoMA educator, had this whole thing planned out!)
The process and the results made for some interesting drawings! The charcoal sometimes sat on top of the paint, sometimes it scratched the surface and marked the cray-pas and sometimes it made it all the way down to the paper. It was interesting to see what happened to the line each time you put the pencil to the paper.
For each class I did an example drawing which made for 4 different drawings by the end of the day. Of the 4 drawings it was the last one that I think really turned out so here it is:
I moved away from the traditional self-portrait pretty fast and instead went for something more symbolic to me. I have been using a drawing of a solitary tree as a symbol for myself as an artist for a long time so I went with it, the skulls were added since skulls always look cool. I was really happy with the results, the bits of color that come through really works well with the dark line. Definitely a cool process with the possibility of some interesting results.
Now completely unrelated to the tree drawing I recently sat down and worked on this:
This drawing was completed using a stick dipped into a bottle of ink. Working with stick and ink was introduced to me years while in college by my professor John Ruggeri. In his class we mainly worked in charcoal, which I hated, but for one project he had us bring in a bottle of ink and a sharpened chopstick to draw with. I was instantly hooked. I love the unpredictable nature of drawing this way. Some of the lines are really light where I am trying to draw dark, others overly dark and thick where I am using a light touch. It’s not something I can control and in many ways that makes the result more free and unrestrained. In the drawing above all the grey tones are from dragging the ink covered stick flat across the paper. As a final touch I cleaned up some lines and added a few highlights with white out. Drawing this way is for me a very instinctual process. Its messy and I just kind of let the drawing evolve as I work. It’s a process and a freedom I have really missed.