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Thursdays I'm at MoMA

This summer I've been taking a class on Thursday nights at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  It's called "Drawing and Mixed Media Collage."  Here's the description:

Drawing from an artwork is one of the best ways to understand it. Taking note of the artist's compositional strategies and formal choices leads to a deeper understanding of the work. This course begins by examining drawing as a creative and reflective process in working from observation in MoMA's galleries. It will then evolve into an exploration of contemporary trends through hands-on studio practice. Students will learn how to use a variety of mixed media techniques combined with traditional and experimental drawing approaches. The artists considered include Jasper Johns, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Beuys, William Kentridge, Félix González-Torres, Thomas Hirschhorn, and selected artists from the current exhibitions I Am Still Alive: Politics and Everyday Life in Contemporary Drawing and Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now.

I have found it very interesting so far.   The teacher (Katerina Lanfranco) is wonderful.  She's intelligent and spontaneous, and very encouraging.  Though, I'll admit that I feel a little bit intimidated in class.  A lot of people there can draw for real for real and I've always felt like my drawings are riduculous in comparison.  But I thought I'd share a few photos of what we've been doing:

Class usually starts with all of us grabbing stools, our class kits (a sketchbook and pencils) and heading into the galleries.  Katerina talks to us a bit about what we're seeing and then we sit and sketch.

It's kind of fun to sit and stare and try to reconstruct each artists' lines.  Mostly it's fun to be in the galleries at night when the museum is closed.  It's so quiet and lovely.  One night we were sitting and sketching and the lights went out!  Pitch black and locked in the museum.  It was straight out of a heist-style movie.  However when the lights came back on, all the paintings were there.  So no worries.

Here is a sampling of the many drawings I've done so far:

It's amazing to me how something so simple as copying a piece of art with a pencil can teach you so much!  Things that look super organic and thrown together are suddenly thrust into a new light when you really look at how all the elements relate.  And creating without color is massively interesting to me as I am a color junkie.  But this exercise forces me to reduce everything to tone.  Very hard for my brain to master!  Plus working with pencils is hard!  I'm used to paint that flows and moves.

After sketching in the galleries we either head (a) back to the classroom or (b) to the outdoor sculpture garden. The photo below is a snapshot (looking up) from the sculpture garden two Thursdays ago.  Beautiful!

In either location our next assignment is to take what we've seen and been inspired by and work with slightly messier mediums like glue or paint.  I missed taking photos a few days because I was busy being inspired, but take a peek at my arting:

This piece is a collage made from painted paper, magazine pages, and hand patterned drawing paper.  Again, we were not really allowed to use color and that was super hard for me.

One of my favorite exercises was experimenting with sumi-e ink.

Along with the ink, we played around with various painting instruments.  The face above was painted with a piece of string dipped in the ink.  Below, you can see paintings done with a bunched up paper towel, a stick, and a brush attached to a stick.

And my most recent artful experiment:

I kind of love this one.  It's so personal and yet universal.  I used vine charcoal to draw the faces and then collaged words cut from an old book.

We've got three classes left (out of eight) and each class keeps getting better and better!  So I just can't wait to see what more Katerina has in store for us!

Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. I'm guest designing for the JBS Mercantile (Jenni Bowlin) kit club in July.  Follow this link to see one of the layouts, a favorite photo, and a snap of my crafty space, along with some of my philosophical ramblings about creativity.