Draw from the Inside Out

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Drawing the Figure in Space

flys eye view

Class notes from Drawing the Figure in Space with Elizabeth Rupprecht, SAIC, 1991

Mark Tobey drawing diagram of a fly flying around the studio – what’s behind you is as important as the rest. Fly’s eye view.

1. Cezanne drew from inside out

2. Yin/yang – figure/ground.

3. Color – reacts against what’s behind it.

Go back to the back wall – pull planes forward towards you.

View a gallery of drawings made in this way from this class. 

Drawing Masks as Analogies for Self

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Class Notes
"Sketch of Sulka Mask, Melanesia, 1900-1910" Fiber structure covered with pith, feathers and pieces of wood Drawn at the Field Museum, Chicago Pencil on paper 7" x 5" © 1991 Marilyn Fenn
“Sketch of Sulka Mask, Melanesia, 1900-1910″ Fiber structure covered with pith, feathers and pieces of wood Drawn at the Field Museum, Chicago Pencil on paper 7″ x 5” © 1991 Marilyn Fenn
Class notes, from Advanced Drawing Studio with Barbara Rossi, SAIC, 1991

Basil, switzerland – Folk Museum – tradition of Carnival prior to Lent; also South Am., Mexico, New Orleans.

  • Plant form growing out of nose
  • Animal head-masks
  • Pig-tail nose
  • Skull-mask – design fashion

Masks of Mexico

1. collection of Donald Cordry shown at Smithsonian.
2. Mexican masks in Chicago Collections at SAIC (6-7 yrs. ago)

Types of masks:

  • Heads w. spikes/thorns/claws/teeth: all in one form.
  • Bird as nose, under eyes. Airplane as nose?
  • Masks w/horns, then horns as abacus beads.
  • Eyes as eyebrows. Post and lintel for eyebrow.
  • Devil masks.
  • Snake curled as nose or trunk or anteaters tongue or those things that you blow.
  • Skeleton as eyebrows, nose, nostrils, mouth opening.
  • Over bull-like face.
  • Hair for tongue, cork for nose, antlers for ears (sense of arms).
  • Pelvic bones of animal as face.
  • Also looks like gas mask.
  • Polished wood looks like plastic, like Darth Vader.
  • Lizards as eyebrows.
  • Crucified Christ as eyebrows, nose and mouth.
  • Turtle back mask. Painted red face with real hair – second mask to snake nose area.
  • Elephant suggested in huge bead form from Africa.

Prepare to do self-portrait substituting one or more features for an analagous form – develop 20-40 ideas, several visualizations for 1-2 final drawings.

Go to Field Museum to look at masks. Draw for analogies & what you respond to.

Portraits of Chicago artists at State of Illinois Center (43 portraits). Patty Carroll.


Self as house? Bugs, beetles as eyes?

Retablos – devotional pictures painted on tin. For people who have experienced a miracle cure – how they got healed (in churches after person has gotten healed – story of the cure). In show from Mexico – Fine Arts Center Museum catalog.

Early Ren. narratives.

Start Where You Are. Move On from There.

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Class Notes
Copy after Chagall's "Birth" The Art Institute of Chicago Pencil on paper 7" x 5" © 1991 Marilyn Fenn
Copy after Chagall’s “Birth” The Art Institute of Chicago Pencil on paper 7″ x 5″ © 1991 Marilyn Fenn


Class notes, from Advanced Drawing Studio with Barbara Rossi, SAIC, 1991

Purpose of the class: development of personal resources, more inventive with how you represent things; more significant to you.

Look at modes of representation, both Western & other.

It happens by doing it all the time – TOTAL COMMITMENT!

Start where you are. Move on from there. Maximize your good points, push them further.

*Sketchbook or journal – most important tool!

Collector and assessor of your own experience. Watch yourself watching the world.

Things occur as they occur.

Keep note of the visual experiences that strike you.

Keep a picture file. Xerox things from books that impress you; take photos.

You can’t will your experiences, but pay attention to them after they’ve happened.

Subjective-objective experience of the world.

Every day – several pages.

You should probably date when you took a picture or saw an image.

Everything you hear that really strikes you.



at Hirschhorn:

Balthus – Golden Days; mirror as dagger? Dress as the shape of a chair, fire; vaginal forms.
Like Piero della Francesca – face, hair. Contrast between sensuous life and intellectual life — sensuous form larger, more illuminated. Drapery like armor, face in the cloth. Woman as vessel. Even negative shapes become references.
Nude woman as Christ figure; intellectual figure as Mary Magdalene?

at Met:

Master of Barberini panels; architecture as backdrop for sculptural figure with loads of drapery-fabric as stone.

National Gallery:

Death of a woman. St. Claire – very weird. Great weird spidery hands.

Grunewald: Christ on cross & St. John

Do 20-minute sketches in museum for 2 hours.


Make composition with original object – use analogies, incorporate into a composition. – any kind of space – highlight original form.

Make composition with original form and identify best analogy or pun, drawing original form while suggesting second form. Visual metaphor in one form.

Take detail of painting from museum – look at it for analogical form underneath the structure — rework into large drawing. Can be abstract – make other form more strongly present.

Look for masks where features of form are transformed into analogical objects — xerox or draw them (look at books or in museum) where one form is substituted for another – like full figure is substituted for nose, eyebrows, etc. & put in sketchbook.

How to Build a Stretcher (Strainer)

How to Build a Stretcher (Strainer)

  1. Select wood with good, straight endgrain, straight (not bowed), few knots, no critical knots.
  2. Cut all pieces to length (2×4’s & 1×6’s) on miter saw.
  3. Set table saw to 15 degrees – rip 2×4’s in half (??”), rip both halves of each piece of wood.
  4. Set table saw back to vertical – rip 1×6’s in half or thirds.
  5. At dado saw, attach fence w/clamps, set height of blade to depth of miter-corners (1/4″ or so), dado out groove on inside side (bottom side) of each end piece.
  6. Dado out grooves for cross-braces. For large strainers, dado out grooves for cross-braces to fit into each other, 1/2 depth of each cross-brace.
  7. Miter corner on miter saw.
  8. Cut corners on table saw. Cut 2 square pieces.
  9. On band saw, cut corners in half, long way.
  10. Using pneumatic staple gun, glue, & corner braces, assemble pieces. Long staples in ends of pieces. Short staples for corners (first) and cross-braces (last).
  • 2 8ft. 2×4’s will make 1 strainer @ 5’x6′ (32′) or 3 strainers @ 2’x3′ (30′) w/2′ left over (minus the blade kerf).
  • 8 ft. of 2×4’s = 16′ of stretcher bars
  • 3′ + 3′ + 5′ + 5′
  • 3.5′ + 3.5′ + 4.5′ + 4.5′

Disclaimer: these are transcriptions of hand-written notes from 1991 which I never put to use, so don’t hold me to it!  Other standard disclaimers apply (i.e., use caution around saws; be especially careful when ripping wood; wearing safety glasses; etc.)

Want to know the difference between a stretcher and a strainer?  Read “Stretchers and Strainers: Secrets of the Trade” from Golden Paints.

Drawing vs. Painting: More Artists to Look At

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series SAIC Class Notes
Painting by Susan Rothenberg "Triphammer Bridge" 1974 Synthetic polymer paint and tempera on canvas 67 1/8" x 9' 7 3/8"
Painting by Susan Rothenberg “Triphammer Bridge” 1974 Synthetic polymer paint and tempera on canvas 67 1/8″ x 9′ 7 3/8″
Class Notes from Art School, SAIC, 1991

More artists to look at:

Figuration and abstraction.
How ideas are developed.
Comes from nature.
Look at source periodically.

Can you not go back and be very particular after moving fast, getting abstract?

Look at:
Diebenkorn (Diebenkorn’s missing works) – colors on cigar box top – beautiful: Yellow, lavendar, green, pink, peach, white – very pale with strip of red, brown. Archeological presence of landscape – strata, layers.

Giorgio Morandi – simplicity of shapes. The less there is to look at, the more you look at it (a specific edge). Drawing aspect vs. painting aspect – how to find out from different material.

Draw Abstracted Form Merging with Landscape

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Class Notes
Sketch of anthropomorphized landscape form pencil Left: sketch of termite mound; right: anthropomorphized forms © 1991 Marilyn Fenn
Sketch of anthropomorphized landscape form Pencil Left: sketch of termite mound; right: anthropomorphized forms © 1991 Marilyn Fenn

Class notes, from Advanced Drawing Studio with Barbara Rossi, SAIC, 1991

“The creative process lies not in imitating, but in paralleling nature—translating the impulse received from nature into the medium of expression, thus vitalizing this medium. The picture should be alive, the statue should be alive and every work of art should be alive.”

– Hans Hoffman

Think about forms of nature that excite you: creatures, clouds, rocks, wood, trees, bones, water, fog.

Make lots of drawings of abstracted form merging with the landscape.

Hoffman’s “Search for the Real.”

The sound of machines; music.

Thorax (horse drowning in a sea of sadness).

Painting is Not Depicting

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series SAIC Class Notes
Painting by Georges Braque "Still-Life: Le Jour" 1929
Painting by Georges Braque “Still-Life: Le Jour” 1929
Class notes from SAIC, 10/29/91

Christian Metz
Check into film theory (time).

Iconology and iconography.

The Banquet Years” – Roger Shattuck – mix of art and ideas.

“I no longer know how to live with everyday objects.” Braque to Shattuck, 1951.

1947 – book by Braque – quotes:

“The artist is not misunderstood, he’s barely recognized. People exploit him without knowing who he is.”

“I cherish the rule that corrects emotion.”

“Limited means engender new forms, invite creation.”

Progress – not extending one’s limits, but working within them.

Visual space separates objects from one another. Tactile space separates us from objects.

A painting is finished when one has effaced the idea. The idea is the launching cradle of the painting.

Dover edition of Braque’s book – $6.00.


Turner and Impressionism – “I paint what I see, not what I know.”
Cubists paint not what they see, but what they know. Mind + eye.

G. B. – “Art is a mode of representation.” (?)

Do not imitate what you want to create. CREATE.

The painter does not try to reconstitute an anecdote, but to constitute a pictorial event.

Hershel Chip’s “Theories of Art.”

I am more concerned with being in tune (unison) with nature than copying nature.

Writing is not describing. Painting is not depicting. Likeness is merely an illusion. Something cannot be both true and a likeness – you have to choose.

You cannot have a thing both in mind and before your eyes. Forget about things; consider only relations.

The present – the context (circumstances).


Combination of some likeness; some convention (language). Book of meditations reflecting some doubt.

“You cannot always have your hat in your hand. That’s why the hatrack was invented. Painting a nail on which to hang my ideas – that allows me to change them.”


Valerie Taglieri – Cloud paintings. Artemesia – 700 N. Carpenter, through Nov. 30th.


Distortion of the image through reproduction gives art a new meaning – 80’s.


Puryear – opposite – craftsmanship, process, diversity of materials.
(Artswager and Deacon) Minimalism led into the ’80s.

Difficult, but direct art – not easy to read. More self-contained than M. More additive, a fusion of smaller things into a whole. They all contain a space. Enclosures.

M – forbidding, couldn’t be possessed, intentionally difficult to read – challenge to viewer. Threatening, non-yielding.

Puryear – work that slows down the process of art making and art viewing. An invitation to viewer. Reserve and discretion.