A couple weeks ago, I took my lovely UW theatre designers on a little field trip to Suyama Space to draw “Never Finished”, a room-sized installation of cascading fluorescent tubes by the artist team Lilienthal|Zamora.
Since this is after all a life drawing class, we were joined by our favorite field-trip model Amanda, who added human scale, narrative, and some additional pattern to the glowing, seriously maximalist landscape.
Some students occasionally took my advice and actually used the viewfinders they’d made to frame and edit the vastness of the space and visual activity. Also heeded sporadically was the instruction to make a few thumbnail sketches first, to figure out the composition and proportions. I also happen to think they look really interesting on the margins of the page as well as being useful. (Everyone but the artist themselves always gravitates toward that unguarded sketch, the record of the artist’s looking and thinking.)
Here is an excellent example of zooming in on the particular. Even though she likely wanted to draw every last light bulb and stripe on the shirt, she controlled that urge and instead focused on the splendid river of cords weaving through the texture of the floor, the verticals, and a pair of feet, which add a provocative hint of potential movement.
This student solved the problem by dividing the picture plane into three sections of distinct pattern, with the figure anchoring the whole composition, and almost reading as a marionette.
Ballpoint pen proved a popular medium for this project. Even though the piece strikes you first with light when you experience it in person, it turned out to be its richness of line that was most compelling to draw. The tubes flow from order to chaos and (almost) back again as you go from one end of the room to the other, mirroring our process of drawing, in which we attempt to impose our own visual order on what we see.
A blue ballpoint pen with a little water added to smear it, set off nicely in this photo by the space’s beautiful rough-hewn floorboards.
Below is a panorama of the entire room, from the model’s point of view. Never Finished comes down December 19, so you’d better hurry if you want to see it . . . and bring your sketchbook!