The Unmanageable Canvas: “Offensively Large” Drawings

With over a week passed since I left Rhode Island, I can finally look back on my summer foundation studies program at RISD with something other than panic and headache.  In fact, a sense of deep satisfaction is beginning to sink in.  The sheer quantity, scale and ever-improving quality of artwork we were all forced to constantly produce has finally begun to seem somewhat impressive – no longer a barely acceptable result of high-stress desperation.  With this realization, I have decided it is time to share some images of the homework assignments completed for my Studio Drawing class taught by the intimidatingly brilliant Clara Lieu.

With a year of liberal arts college already under my belt, I was under the (very wrong) impression that art classes, however intensive, would somehow not be as difficult for me as the bland textbook academics I had grown reluctantly accustomed to.  As classes started up this June, however, I realized that while hours of tedious reading and memorization were behind me, the challenge of studio art classes was going to be far, far greater than anything I had previously experienced.

Studio drawing turned out to be the most intense class of my life.  Gone were the days of busy work and grades based on factual knowledge.  It became immediately clear that the only way to improve, and thus succeed in the class, was to push your self, searching deep into personal creativity and thought process, reaching into the furthest corners of your mind to pull out the best thing you could find, then struggling to craft that idea into a gigantic piece of visual imagery.  I have never thought so hard about schoolwork before. Every week, we were assigned a themed drawing measuring 4′ x 3′ – dimensions my friend Sara aptly deemed “offensively large”.  Staring hopelessly at that first expanse of blank paper, the canvas seemed downright unmanageable, but it had to get done.  The drawings became the bane of my weekly existence as I battled the difficulties of lithographic crayon, rubbing ink, charcoal and India ink to pour my soul onto those pages for what seemed like eternity.  What else is there to say?  I now have five gigantic drawings of various mediums and themes, the last of which measures an unreasonable 4’x4′.  Here they are, flaws and all.


“Structure”, lithographic crayon


“Texture”, lithographic crayon


“Architectural Space Defined by Light”, charcoal


“Autobiography: Routine”, charcoal and ink

“Visual Map of Your Brain”, India ink and charcoal

  Thus concludes the best class I have ever taken.  I feel like my brain has been pushed so hard creatively that coming up with creative ideas on command seems routine.  That said, I’m glad it’s over, and am looking forward to focusing specifically on photography in the years to come.

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