Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Onlookers and the Light of Day

While working on the last three drawings, I found a new reason to enjoy drawing. Before doing the assignment, I had never really sat outdoors and drawn for any substantial period of time (i.e. more than an hour or so). My experiences with drawing before this class mostly consisted of drawing in the classroom or in my house. I had never really drawn out in public before.

Working on these drawing over many days and often for hours at a time, I got to experience my subject under a broad range of lightings. It is nice to see how a scene interacts with light and how it changes as the sun sets. Depending on the lighting the Nasher, Perkins and the Crowell clock tower could look completely different. I felt like Monet must have when he obsessed over his Thames series.

When drawing the Nasher, several people stopped on their way to or from the museum to look at my drawing. I especially enjoyed when a group of little kids gathered around me and asked me how I learned to draw. Drawing Perkins offered a similar experience, as a few people stopped to watch me draw. One man even took several photographs of me. Yet this last assignment, because of my choice of location (sitting in the grass right next to the sidewalk on the main west campus quad) was by far the most “public “ of my setups. Over the course of the roughly seven days I spent sitting out working on the picture (spaced over three weeks), I must have received around 50 comments from people walking by. At first I found it awkward drawing on such a main drag, but it proved to be rewarding.

The interactions I had with these people – some students and others adults – ranged from a simple thumbs-up to inquiries about purchasing my work. Some comments seemed to come from fellow artists. For example, one older man talked to me about a drawing he had once made in Europe. However, I really appreciated the positive feedback from people who didn’t identify themselves as artists. It was so nice to see athletes, members of the dining staff, professors etc., appreciating art. Some even told me that they had seen me working the week before and really liked how the drawing was coming along. Some of my friends told me they never new I was an artist before. I drew with headphones on, but whenever I noticed somebody stopping to watch me draw, I would take them off in case he wanted to talk.

It was very refreshing to be able to share my art with people in such an active way. Over the summer I spent a lot of time cooped up in my attic painting and getting ready for a show I had in August. Although the show gave me a chance to receive feedback and share my artwork, it was much different than having people actually watch me draw. Of course sometimes I prefer to draw in private. Yet now that I’ve had this positive experience I’ll definitely consider going outside to draw more often. Sometimes I find it unfortunate being a visual artist, as we don’t often have opportunities to “perform” and get immediate responses. I think I’ve found a good compromise.

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