Monday, November 30, 2009

tis the season

With the pies gone and the turkey slept off, the holiday drill must begin. I had the delicious opportunity to bring my illustration class to a tech rehearsal of Santaland Diaries at Portland Stage Company, which proved to be a perfect segue for the season. It was challenging, to say the least, but put us all in a properly satiric mood.

Dustin Tucker plays Crumpet, a disenchanted Macy's elf. Here is my quick sketch of the stage setting.

I told my students beforehand that it would be hard, very hard, to capture a moving target, but this was a chance to strengthen their recall and eye for detail.

Here is Alysa's sketch, a study of costume and character.

One thing I love about sharing a classroom with illustration students is their sheer variety of responses. Here is Thom's sketch, done with soft charcoal, large and gestural, from a figure drawing stance, yet showing great energy.

This one from Seumas, who makes use of a middle ground:

Bret always goes for the maniacal:

Stephan has an easy line, and here documents the directors who kept stopping the action to finesse the lighting and sound effects.

In this sketch, also by Stephan, he captures a picture book quality of the character.

Sarah McCann caught the slouch of an actor in sullen repose during a 9 hour rehearsal.

From the same angle, Joe sees a different attitude:

Cyndi created a very deliberate and stylized face:

Elise got the actor in a down moment, between the numerous takes. We were actually fortunate that there were many, for our purposes.

I drew another "between takes" from across the room.

I'm not the kind of teacher that draws over a student's drawing. I encourage them to draw what attracts them, to draw as they see fit. By drawing alongside them, I recognize just what I am asking them to do. I can only hope that offering venues for drawing from life, theater, and situations that don't sit still will
sharpen their skills and eyes for drama, the seen and unseen, and magically invented.

This is a small slice of the many drawings done on site. I did a ton of just the actor's profile, completely unable to accurately capture his nose. Drawing is quite often a frustrating exercise, but you draw, and draw again. It's a persistence that demands fitness and focus.

We were all distracted by the hilarity of the play, what little we saw in two hours, given the repeated stops for tech adjustments. But as an exercise in visual essay, it was worth it.

Bravos to Crumpet and Portland Stage! Go see Santaland Diaries!

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