It took a long time of pretending to work in my studio today to remember how to begin.
I’ve come to the realization that when I draw faces I’m not interested in representing a particular face (as portraits are thought to do). These drawings (of no one in particular) are simply about faces and our proclivity for finding and paying attention to them.
I’m developing a new course at Emily Carr University called Drawing Faces: “Rather than pursuing the idea of a portrait as a fixed, singular image we will consider representations of the face as an ambiguous, shifting field of interaction and interpretation.”
I’m in the midst of developing a reading list as well as assignments for this course. I’ll ask the students to develop a series of drawn faces, similar to the daily drawing project described in an earlier post. As a way to consider the terms of this assignment I began a new series of one-minute drawings of a face in a small (3 x 4″) notebook.
I love daily drawing projects. They’re a great way to get motivated and develop your drawing skills.
I often assign this kind of project to my drawing students. I ask them to complete a series of related drawings over a number of consecutive days. Before they start they need to develop a framework for their project; a set of parameters that determines the format of their daily drawings. These parameters must challenge their abilities and sustain their interest (both formally and conceptually) for the duration of the project. I ask them to consider the following:
WHEN they intend to do their drawing (e.g. at night before they go to sleep, on the bus to school, etc.) By linking this activity to something they do every day they have a better chance of remembering to do it.
The DURATION of their drawing (e.g. 10 minutes, not less that 5 minutes and not more than 30, etc.)
The MEDIUM they will use (e.g. a 4B pencil, watercolour paints, etc.).
The SUBJECT of their drawing (e.g. images from their dreams, their own face, an abstract gesture, a character for the graphic novel they’re developing, etc.)
They need to use a dedicated notebook or compile a uniform set of papers they can use throughout the project.
Over the years my students have surprised and delighted me with their creative responses to this assignment. I’ve seen what someone ate for dinner every night, someone’s extensive makeup collection (drawn using makeup), the daily view outside a window and a series of intricate scribbles that moved across the pages of a notebook. There’s something very satisfying about completing a group of related drawings like this… they function as a diary, encapsulating a specific period of your life.
Today I came across a daily drawing project I completed in a small (3″ x 4″) notebook last spring, while my students worked on their own projects. Each coloured pencil drawing was of an item found within my office, that took no longer than 10 minutes. I included phrases from something I was reading on the day I did the drawing.
I’m trying the add the practice of meditation to my everyday life. At this point I can only do 10 minutes (when I remember to do it).
I often call my drawing method “meditative,” as a way to describe the attention I try to bring to the process of drawing. I want to be in the moment, focusing my mind on the tip of the pencil or brush as it meets the paper. What’s happened in the past or what might happen the future aren’t relevant in the here-and-now of drawing.
The use of parameters (the guidelines I choose for a specific project) help diminish distractions. Repetition allows me to return again and again to a subject as a way to think about it; I draw the same thing over and over again until it no longer sustains my attention.
As noted elsewhere on this blog I’m interested in moving the drawn images into a time-based digital format. Doing so opens up new possibilities for their presentation. I want to explore how meaning is expressed through duration.
This QuickTime movie of a series of watercolour drawings of a baby’s face is part of an ongoing project: Baby.