One of Peripeteia’s many workshops this weekend was a two-day drawing workshop in Kitao Gallery called Drawing the Movements, taught by Maisie Luo ’19. Jake Mundo ’18, a member of the Peripeteia planning committee, explains that the goal of Peripeteia workshops is to expose students to new and interesting things that they might not otherwise get the chance to explore.
“Everyone here has such interesting things to share, and ultimately what we want to do is give people a forum to share those things and provide the resources they need to do it effectively, ” Mundo said.
Luo’s workshop focused on a drawing method that she wanted to share with the Swarthmore community. The first day started with an exercise in which we closed our eyes and tried to draw our dorm room using charcoal. Rather than trying to draw what we expect the room to look like, our assignment was to capture the movement of the lines within our room. For the next exercise, we drew each other’s faces, using only geometric shapes and avoiding attempts to perfectly mimic the face we were looking at. Luo explained that this drawing technique was in effect more like sculpting, envisioning the many planes on a human face.
The next exercise was the bulk of Luo’s workshop: working with a moving human model. We were instructed not to worry too much about capturing what we though the model looked like, but rather to focus on the movement of her body, homing in on specific areas like her hands or nose. Even though drawing movement can be difficult, this workshop is designed so that everyone, from beginners to daily sketchers, can fully benefit from the exercise. After the class, Luo explained her goals for the workshop.
“I wanted it to be a good way for people to enjoy the process and gain a different perspective of how you can draw. The art department is art major focused . . . but this way, a lot of people who haven’t drawn before get a different perspective of how to see things and how to make marks.”
While this is the first time Luo has interacted with Kitao and Peripeteia, this isn’t her first experience with this kind of drawing. Luo said that she learned how to draw from her teachers in high school and read extensively about different ways to draw movement with your whole body.
“I’ve taught arts classes, mostly to elementary school kids, but not as advanced as this class. I wanted to let them focus on observation, and having fun making marks,” she explained. The workshop was designed for people from varying backgrounds, and Maisie believes that the diverse group of specialties in the workshop worked well with what she was teaching.
“The people in class were all physics, math, or psychology majors. And they found a lot of similarities between what they understood about their discipline and what we were doing,” she said.
One of the participants in the workshop, Sacha Lin ’20, is an intended environmental studies major and shared what she thought of the class.
“I actually don’t really draw. I’ve tried to get into sketching a few times before, but I’ve always been concerned about what it looks like to me. I figured this was a good way to just draw in a non-self-conscious manner, and I think it really helped me in the end,” Lin said.
When asked if she thought that the exercise informed her own discipline, Lin said she agreed with Luo.
“When you’re doing studio art, you really have to look. And I think that it increases your awareness of your surroundings and opens all these possibilities of things you haven’t seen. It makes you better at thinking about things in your everyday life.” she said.
When asked if she wants to return to drawing in the future, Lin said that she’d be interested.
“Yeah definitely, and I’d like to try doing my own Peripeteia.”
Lin’s response to the workshop is part of what Peripeteia wants from the participants. Mundo further explained why he thinks that Peripeteia is a great program for Swatties in particular.
“We feel we often fall into a trap of departmental compartmentalization, and we don’t get chances to be exposed to new and interesting things or share our thoughts, ideas, and skills with others who have very different perspectives and backgrounds,” Mundo said.
Luo explained that she was very proud of the workshop.
“In the end, I think everything went really well,” she remarked. She hopes to share her unique drawing method with other Swarthmore students and is thankful for her partnership with Peripeteia in her workshop. When she spoke to The Phoenix, Luo was enthusiastic about continuing to teach her drawing methods.
“I’ve read a lot of books on this, and there are plenty of exercises left to do. Maybe I can even start a club.”