Artwork of the Week, 10/14

Megan Martin Paper Aflame 12 x 18", Graphite

Megan Martin
Paper Aflame
12 x 18″, Graphite

It’s tough to tell what this drawing is immediately, and that’s what I like about it. Bordering on abstract, yet realistic when you know what you’re seeing. The bottom part could be a little sharper, but it’s well-rendered with a great utilization of a range of values.


Robert Longo Drawings

Lindsey Pfender, 2012

If I ever get fired from my job, it’s probably because of this project (with the whole “throwing things at students’ heads” and all). It’s far and away my favorite project I teach every year–it’s unique, it’s a LOT of fun, and it develops (or reveals) my students’ drawing skills. It’s our Robert Longo project.

First, if you’re not familiar with Robert Longo, he’s an American artist who first gained widespread fame with his Men in the Cities series. He’s gone on to do an incredible amount of impressive work, generally large-scale and done in graphite or charcoal. You can see an interview with him here (look out for some bad language by the artist).

If you were too lazy to click on the link above, here’s another chance to see some pictures of his Untitled (Men in the Cities) drawings.

Perhaps the best (brief) description of his working process can be found in an old article here, and another quick explanation with some great pictures here. In other articles and biographies, there are descriptions of people dancing and dying, people gyrating, write-ups about their general awkwardness, or whatever else.

I prefer, however, the urban legend shared with my by my art history professor in college: Longo would hire models to come to his studio, ask them to dress in formal wear, then do a few inconspicuous figure drawings. After those were finished, Longo would offer the models copious amounts of cash if, you know, he could just throw dangerous objects at them as hard as he could. Look at those drawings again–makes sense, right?

Is the story true? Evidence tells me it’s not, but I hope I’m wrong. Is it the story we go with when I present this to the class? Absolutely. They love the idea of throwing stuff at models, particularly after going through a couple weeks of figure drawings, is always appealing.

And of course, my kids always bring up this scene from Dodgeball:

The look on their faces when I tell them WE are going to throw stuff at each other is one of both disbelief and excitement. And I love it.

We pick a day, and everyone shows up in their best clothes–shirts and ties for the guys (suits if we’re lucky), and nice dresses for the girls–we’ve even had a couple of prom dresses make an appearance. Some of the more ambitious girls will wear heels, and though I get nervous about that when they are jumping and dodging objects, we haven’t had any broken ankles (yet).

This year’s collection of objects to throw:

2013-09-11 07.40.01



3 Tennis Balls

Nerf Ball

2 Disgusting Sponges from the Ceramics Room

Ball of Yarn

Paint Palette (they work great as frisbees)

Stuffed Animals–1 Goat, 1 Santa Claus

Rolls of Tape

Miscellaneous Other Stuff

From there, it’s just a big game of dodgeball! We line up, firing squad-style, and throw one at a time. The model tries to dodge the throws, over-exaggerating their movements for the best poses. We set up multiple cameras, as I’ve found we have a better chance of capturing the best shots when we do so. And did we ever get some great ones this year . . .

After that, students select the photos they want to draw. We make choices on composition when cropping and arranging photos, then it’s just up to our drawing skills. Some grid, some freehand, but we just try to emphasize detail and shading while keeping a blank background (in the Longo style). I’ve done every size, and can’t really recommend one more than another. Huge drawings are always impressive if they are done well, but it’s obviously quite a trade-off with the amount of time involved.

And, of course, we will finish with a few of our results. Pretty well-done.

Artwork of the Week, 8/19


Shara Yumul, Sarah
16 x 20″, Graphite

This was a summer homework assignment that was turned in this week. There’s a lot that I love about it, for obvious reasons–the shading is fantastic, the rendering of the drapery is great, and the likeness is very well-done. The detail in the face and the hair is strong as well.

That being said, a few problems, too–the grid transfer shows through in the bottom right, the shadows are patchy in quite a few places, the outline of the drapery is too dark in spots, and the left side of the face is incorrect.

So, there are a few things to work on, but you really can’t expect much more from a summer project. I was really, really happy to see this come in, and after a little bit of work, Shara should have a strong piece on her hands.

Artwork of the Week, 10/29

Artwork of the Week, 10/29

Michelle Albrecht
16 x 20″, Graphite on Paper

There’s a few things I don’t like about this drawing (the face, the right hand), but overall, it’s fantastic.  Great pose, great detail, great use of value.  Pretty strong.