cleaning the studio...

...and other adventures in art

Once a week, more or less, Tom Maderos, Claire Thorson and I hire a model for drawing and painting in my studio. Lately, Claire and I have been drawing together during these sessions. I don’t mean in the same room…I mean we’re drawing on the same drawing at the same time!

Barbara Downs and Claire Thorson drawing together

In the past, we’ve done paintings together where we took turns working on the painting, but at some point one of us would ‘take ownership’ of the painting and make it their own, rather than a true collaboration.

We are avoiding that problem altogether by working side by side. At times, it’s comical. Claire may be drawing a line that I’m furiously chasing and erasing as fast as she can draw it. We argue (nicely, thus far) over where something should be on the page, or the scale of body parts and props.

Although we’re standing quite close, even that small distance affects our view of the model, so we’re drawing from two perspectives at the same time. This is a very interesting perceptual exercise. We change places every so often so that we can see each other’s view.

Barbara Downs and Claire Thorson drawing togetherWhy do this? I think we started in a moment when we were both frustrated with the drawings we were doing, and decided to see how the other person would make things progress. (Maybe Claire will chime in on my bit of revisionist history).

But the experiment proved fruitful, and I find much value in it. Claire makes different decisions than I would make in many instances, and sees something other than what I’m seeing in the model. Working side by side, I have to constantly reexamine my own working ‘habits’–those things that I do without thinking.

And the drawings aren’t bad! I can look at certain parts of them and say “that’s my line”, or “that’s the foot that Claire drew so expertly”, but they are also a true hybrid. It’s like that first look at your child’s face, when you see something so familiar there but also something so unique.

So these are our babies, in a manner of speaking. All are approximately 30″x40″.

Check out Claire’s blog for more of her work.