Drawing from Observation, August 15, 2019. Photo: Alli Beard.
Drawing from Observation, August 15, 2019. Photo: Alli Beard.

Lines and Shapes

About a dozen men and women representing multiple generations gather in the museum’s lobby for Drawing from Observation, an activity led by Museum Educator José Garza.  “We’re not teaching you to draw,” Garza explains, “We’re teaching you a technique.” 

Before the actual drawing comes a tour of the exhibition Paul Mpagi Sepuya. The group slowly make its way through Sepuya’s photographs. “Contemporary art resists expectations and conventions,” Garza gestures to a corner of one of the photos. “While much of Sepuya’s photographs focus on classical compositions of the body, it is presented in an unconventional way through the use of mirrors and collage.” Near the end of the tour, Garza focuses on the line contours in Sepuya’s photographs. The portraits contain overlapping shapes and figures, and the group closely examines the subtle and varied dimensions within the work.

Moving to CAM’s performance space, the group begins to lift easels, collect paper, and grab charcoal. Garza introduces two models. He tells the group to gaze at the lines of the body without looking at the paper while they draw. This technique relieves the pressure of perfection, so they can better focusing on learning and studying a new skill. Garza starts the group with a quick-draw session, limited to three minutes. The room is silent as they focus on lines and shapes, quickly sketching their interpretations of the two figures. After three minutes, Garza enters the center of the room, discussing in greater detail a few technical aspects of charcoal as drawing material, before starting another session of low-stakes sketch-work.

Alli Beard