Posted tagged ‘Peter Hristoff’

Adding Unexpected Color

December 12, 2021

Hello all—a rather awful week on my end—lots of work!  But I was able to take my full Inventory Drawing class with Peter Hristoff, which was a very welcome break. 

As I’ve mentioned, Hristoff’s class calls for rapid drawing; Peter gives specific words to prompt each image, and then allocates about a minute or so per image.

Despite the fact that (i) it is a class—i.e. something to learn from; and (ii) that it is a class that moves very quickly, there is a still that very natural tendency to want to make “good” drawings; in other words, to perform, to excel, to make something worth keeping.

But as I’ve moved along, I’ve found myself letting go of that tendency a little. Of course, I still would like to make good drawings, but I’ve found that it is best to get feelings of performance (and the accompanying wish for acknowledgment) out of the way, and simply to respond to the prompt.

My wish to move out of performance mode has been strengthened of late because I’ve been so rushed! In prior semesters, I’ve tried to prepare for the class–get materials all set out before the zoom sessions begin, maybe even prepare some drawing surfaces.  But these last few weeks have been pretty fraught for me, so I’ve had to jump into class most of the time at the last minute, without much time to set up materials or surfaces. Honestly, I think preparing drawing surfaces is a great thing to do–as I noted a couple of posts ago, they can add unexpected depth and texture. But it’s been heartening to see that a lack of preparation can also have its good side, in that it forces one to just draw and not worry so much about the product.

In this past class, Peter focused on words drawn from Arabic poetry. Inspired by the idea of Middle Eastern tiles, he suggested that we do thirty one-minute drawings in one color, then go back and draw thirty more prompts on the previous pages in another color, and then go back and draw thirty more prompts on the same thirty pages in a third color. 

I followed this routine, more or less.  What was challenging for me is that (i) I used soft pastels (thick chalks) as those were the easiest colored implements I could find. (They are beautiful but not very exact for drawing.) Then, because the class moved so quickly, I did not have much time to choose the colors. I somehow landed with pale blue (that one was a choice), a dark green (that I thought, when I picked up the chalk, was going to be teal), and a pinkish red (which I repeatedly regretted!)  (I did sneak in a little yellow and lime green at moments.)

In the end, using colors that I felt uneasy about was freeing. And going back to previous drawings—fitting unexpected things into a drawing already started—was also very freeing. I felt, in other words, that I was learning!  I can’t really articulate what I learned—greater confidence? A greater willingness to use what is at hand? A more open view? I don’t know.  Still, I felt learning happening, and that is always something to be happy about. I post some of the drawings above and below.

I hope all are well in these uncertain times.  Take care. And thanks. 

Ups and Downs–More Quick Draws!

November 21, 2021
ball and chain, pencil, firefly

Hello! I have been away for a while, strapped into a seat of life’s rollercoaster. Highs/lows; joys/sorrows. Time can hold it all in just one hand.

The ups and downs have made me very conscious of the importance of finding beauty in the specific moment (Beauty and, maybe also, calm.) I think of a twirling dancer, a whirling dervish, turning in circles, keeping an eye on a fixed point.  Only I am not actually advocating fixing on a fixed point, in the sense of a specific goal, so much as keeping an eye out for the ever-present (if sometimes dodging) good.

Sorry to be so cryptic! 

The pics above and below are from a new zoom drawing class with the wonderful Peter Hristoff, an American artist with roots in Turkey.  The class is called Inventory Drawing (offered at School of Visual Arts). In it, students try to make quick drawings to a series of prompts, sometimes offered sequentially, sometimes two or three or four or five at once (sort of like life).

Each drawing is allotted about one minute, although the pieces may become more complex in the course of a class, as, if you are like me, you will sometimes do a few on the same page just to save time. Sometimes, Peter also will ask the class to return to a prior drawing.  This type of prolonged quick drawing would honestly be impossible in the absence of Peter’s teaching. We are all buoyed up by Peter’s enthusiasm, artistic good sense, and kindness, which come across even via zoom.


So, here are a few samples.  What is probably most interesting to me is how each came about, that is—what the mind makes of these somewhat random prompts and quick drawing times.  I’m sorry I don’t remember all the specific prompts, but the one at the top was ball in chain, pencil, firefly.  (It seems to me a great allegory for writer’s block.) The one up above was lightbulb, which I kept fairly simple, perhaps because it was at the beginning of the class.

The one directly below started with underwear. The one below that started with fried egg.  The specific prompt below that one was two words— tower and fountain, and the last one, a very weird one, combined astack of pancakes with celebration and donkey and pin cushion and roller coaster, and pussy willow! 

To me, it is so interesting to see what the mind does when it doesn’t have time to think! (A common enough condition.) I hope these are of some interest to you too. I will likely post more tomorrow.

Have a good day! 

Started with prompt of underwear. Don’t know the rest!
Prompt started with fried egg, I think.
Prompt – tower, fountain.
Can’t remember prompt, but included key hole, stack of pancakes, celebration, chair, donkey, pin cushion, pussy willow, roller coaster–nothing I have drawn looks much like any of those!

Remote Drawing?

October 3, 2021

Hello World!

There are, of course, many awful things about the pandemic, but a positive aspect has been the increased facility to do things from home.  One of the most enjoyable for me has been zoom drawing classes.

I have no doubt that in person classes (especially for the young) are more effective. But I was rarely able to take in-person drawing classes pre-pandemic.

Most of these zoom classes have been with Peter Hristoff, a wonderful artist in his own right, and also a terrific teacher with School of Visual Arts. Peter is super inspiring and also very kind, and yes, he is a better teacher in person. But he manages to convey encouragement and insight even through a screen.

Right now I am taking The Vigorous Figure, which, like many of Peter’s classes, focuses on drawing very quickly (one or two minute sketches) with an eye to overcoming the stiffness and self-consciousness that may arise with fewer time constraints.

This is a very effective teaching technique for me, as it forces me to focus on line, and to get over my natural bend towards apology.  

My natural drawing method (pre-classes) is to make a lot of tentative little scratches that eventually combine into an image. These breathy little lines always seem as if they are asking permission to make whatever shapes they try for.

However, when I know I have to get an image on the page in a matter of seconds, I try (after getting frustrated) to commit to more continuous lines. In part, this is because following a line is faster. And following a line leads me to draw what I see rather than what I think I am supposed to be drawing. As result, I find both more energy and (importantly) more surprise. Commitment also carries weight, again helpful.

I am not very good at any of it, but here are two sketches,(the one above and below) from my last drawing session.  Believe me I did several that looked arguably more like the figure I was drawing, with more defined limbs, etc. But the one above (the figure) was done almost at the end of the session when I was kind of tired and trying for gesture alone (forget about musculature!) The one below is a face that I just like. (Of course, the model, who was great, has a very nice face.)

I would note that these types of exercises can be helpful in getting one’s self writing also.


PS – please don’t take my drawing as emblematic of the type of work Peter Hristoff does, promotes or his students do!  I am my quirky self and not representative of the talent there.