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.

Project Yourself into the Picture Plane

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Drawing the Figure in Space
Painting by Paul Cezanne Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair aka "Hortense Fiquet in a Striped Skirt" oil on canvas 1877-78
Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair aka “Hortense Fiquet in a Striped Skirt” Paul Cezanne oil on canvas 1877-78


Class notes from Drawing the Figure in Space class taught by Elizabeth Rupprecht, SAIC, 1991

Look at Paul Klee’s “The Thinking Eye.”

Look at “Point and Line to Plane” – Kandinsky.

When drawing the figure in space, use empathy – project yourself into the picture plane. Move yourself to the center of the picture plane.

Every action demands a reaction: in and concave – out and convex; in and up – out and down.

Implies counter-movement.

Make things bend for the demands of the flat surface.

Like movement in Cezanne’s Madame Cezanne.

In Cezanne’s landscapes, things get bigger as they go back in space – he’s projected himself into the landscape.

Think of Dufy’s scene through a fence.

Check out the view down Michigan Avenue towards the bridge.

Look up Munch again. Look for the catalog with seltzer bottle/bowler hat.

Development of the idea is the most important part – spend most time here. Perceptual or conceptual space?

Look at Odilon Redon in print and drawing room. “The Painter’s Eye.” or Mind.  Romare Bearden, Carl Holty.

Wolf Kahn landscapes.

Cimabue – those weird hands!

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