Technique Tuesday: Drawing Revelations with Dan Thompson

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Dan Thompson’s “open” charcoal portrait about 30 mins into the pose, drawn from life. Notice how there are no harsh contours, just lots of hatch marks that make up the mass of the drawing.

In August I attended yet another workshop with Dan Thompson. 2 actually, back to back. Both of them on drawing. I see Dan as a cosmic guide on my life long journey as an artist. He leaves little bread crumbs of wisdom to follow on the path to improvement. Most recently he left me with two life changing concepts. The first is the revelation of what “closed” and “open” drawings are. Closed drawings are those with specific contours. They are precise, drawn from the outside in and do not allow much room for alterations. Open drawings are the opposite. They are built from the inside out. They are more mass than contour, they are flexible. They are forgiving. I had never heard these terms before, perhaps because I did not attend a particularly traditional art school. Hearing these terms allowed me to understand my own frustrations with my drawing–most noticeably a tendency for strong contours. To think that I could simply reverse engineer my drawing technique to get at the quality I want in my work was literally mind blowing! And the last revelation I received from Dan’s workshop was to approach each effort in drawing and painting as if making a “proposal”. If you get it wrong, so what! Just alter your proposal. Brilliant right? And it totally takes the pressure off.

2 thoughts on “Technique Tuesday: Drawing Revelations with Dan Thompson

    1. Maria–I totally agree! Dan’s approach to teaching and learning is all about being patient with yourself and the process of improvement. He is on my top list of workshop instructors that I take classes from regularly!

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