Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Week 2 Reflections

Attendees: David Alvarado, Kevin Budnik, Angela Caggiano, Chris Dazzo, Nick Drnaso, Marieke McClendon, Ness Rago, Naji Sierra, Matt Soria, Carl Zeller.

Documentarian: George Burnett.

Bloviator: Ivan Brunetti.

This week's exercises revolved around memory and translation.

A few words about drawing: This, to me, is everything, the alpha and the omega. The culmination and distillation of thought. As a medium of expression, it is direct, intimate, and all-revealing. You can't fake a good drawing; bravado, prevarication, and coyness simply wither, exposed and helpless.

When I am in the presence of a beautiful painting or a sculpture, I feel an an instability beneath my feet, outside my skin, as if the magnetic field around me has been disrupted. In the presence of a beautiful drawing, the stirring is internal. Something within me feels altered, shaken.

There's something vulgar and disrespectful about human hands handling a painting or sculpture, like surgery performed with clumsy puppy paws, but I think a drawing begs be held, touched, not placed on a wall or on a pedestal.

Granted, I could be completely wrong about all this.

Exercise 1: The group divides itself into teams of two, so... 12 people equals six teams. One person acts as the Describer, the other as a Drawer. The Drawers get their butcher-paper pinned to the wall and their tools handy (large markers, charcoal, or brush and ink). The Describers are each handed a printout of a portrait drawing (by artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Rubens, and many others), which they must stare at for 5 minutes, absorbing every detail of the content and composition, including textures, the quality of the marks and lines, etc.

The Describers put away the portraits, and then must verbally describe the image to the Drawer. While hand and body gestures are allowed, there is no sketching allowed by the Describer. The Drawer attempts to draw the image, based on the Describer's memory and description. (The drawings took between 15-20 minutes.)

Next, the team members reverse their roles: The Drawer now becomes the Describer, and vice versa. New portrait images are given to each Describer. This creates a new set of interpretive drawings by the Drawers.

We ended up with a total of 12 large sketches on the butcher paper, each drawn by a different person.

Exercise 2: Through a random redistribution, everyone was assigned another person's drawing. This would then become the basis of a new drawing. We had a little over an hour to create these more finished pieces, and everyone was allowed to choose whatever tools, materials, and dimensions they preferred. The butcher-paper sketches served as jumping-off points, and everyone was free to "translate" these drawings as they wished, faithfully or unfaithfully, which led to surprising results.

At the end of the session, the original portrait drawings were revealed to all, for further comparison, edification, and amusement. Here are a few examples.

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