Monday, September 28, 2009

100 Figures Assignment (college days)

I checked in over at Graphic Tales late last week and was immediately transported back to my junior year of college—back to the beginning of 2001. My former professor, DB Dowd (though we knew him as Douglas or "Doobie"), has just unleashed on his Seniors the 100 Figures Assignment---> read about it here.

The gist:

You are to produce exactly 100 figure drawings/pictures of humans between 1:00 today, Friday, and Monday morning at 9:00 am, when your new week begins. These drawings should be at least 11” x 14”. The figure must dominate the picture–no “scenes” with teeny figures. And 100 drawings means 100 drawings.

This is the exact assignment as I remember it. Drop the bomb on your students on a Friday afternoon; due first thing Monday morning.

Cue panic.

DB spells out the objective in his post, but essentially, you start drawing (on 11 x 14 sheets of paper mind you...not small) only to realize around #20 that you've used up your bag of tricks. It's designed to bring you to the brink of insanity. I drew a cluster of faces a year ago in one sitting (an hour?)—and heck, I was ready to put the pen down at a dozen.

100 unique figure drawings in less than 3 days. Go!

After reading his post, I went straight to the studio and began digging through my college portfolios. I finally came across the mass of 100 drawings. Here are some of them spread out haphazardly:

It turns out I only counted around 85, so I'm either missing some or they've been misplaced. As unfair as it is to pick out favorites, here are the dozen or so images that I deem "interesting" today. But that's kind of the point. You create a lot in a short amount of time, hoping to make some discoveries.

I look at these, and while I can see the cartoon themes poking through, it strikes me how far in the direction of cartoony imagery I've gone today. This was definitely before I dipped into Fleischer and classic animation. Probably before I discovered Gary Baseman...maybe even before I started watching SpongeBob.

Not to mention that a lot of these are either gouache or watercolor paintings (nothing is digital). I remember distinctly during the critique people mentioning that I draw big heads (I still do). But I now notice how small most of the eyes are—eyes have now all but taken over my characters' faces.

A did a dozen or so like this—brush and ink...flicking the brush at the page to inspire fun ideas. That was key throughout this—keeping yourself in good spirits. I remember having fun with this set.

Here are a few more of varying styles and media.

I doubt I'll ever create so much work in such a short period of time. And it's hard to imagine a more practical exercise. We could all benefit from doing this at least once a year to work out the kinks in our style and explore new approaches of drawing. I like to think that's what a sketchbook is for, but this was much more intense by comparison.

I may do another college-related post, but until then, back to 2009.


Mark Frudd said...

Great stuff Bob. May have to give something like that a go myself. Cool to look back on some of your old work and see how influences and media have developed your work.

Renee Kurilla said...

Wow. While this is a college student's seems like a really beneficial thing to do. You said you thought your colors were so bad then...but I disagree!

Chris Houghton said...

Wow, this is super awesome. I am definitely proposing this exercise to our senior studio class today. I think I might just do this this weekend... hmmm...

Louise Smythe said...

Thanks for the post, Bob! It's really cool to see some stuff you did back in the day. That guy picking his nose is great. haha.

I guess I can now say I'm a survivor of the 100 figures... and strangely I want to do it again. I'll post some on my blog soon. I look forward to reading a college post!

Bob Flynn said...

Thank ya. Interesting assignment, right? You think you'd want to try it on your own—but it's truly a ton of work. The kind of thing made for college.

Glad to see you survived, Louise! I look forward to seeing your post as well.

spongebob printable coloring pages said...

voilaaaa ... this is freakingly awesome. It's really cool to see some stuff you did back in the day.
its a complete retro feeling

Ian Andersen said...

Wow, that sounds like an incredibly rewarding challenge, albeit completely stressful and mind boggling.
I looked at your instructor's post, but it doesn't really say, do they have to be scenes with the figure as the focus? or were you allowed to do floating figures, because most of yours look like something is going on, not just a figure in a pose, but a couple look to be just figures. How finished were the peices supposed to be, obviously you wouldn't have time to completely refine them given that you only had 40 minutes a piece, provided you don't sleep until it's over
I'll be thinking about trying this the next time i have a clean 68 hours and the next day off.

David DeGrand said...

What a fun post! Sounds like a fun idea at first that would turn into a nighmare fast, but what an excellent way to flex the artistic muscles. Really love all the characters you came up with and variety of media, very cool.

Michael said...

This clearly shows that there's no resemblance between you and a bump on a log. Great Stuff Thanks!

Gabriel Renner said...

muito legal!

Bob Flynn said...

Thanks for all the comments. I want to address yours, Ian, because you present a good question. I'm pretty sure all we had to do was draw a single human figure on each page—that's it. Color wasn't even a requirement. But I knew that would get boring quick. I often played one figure off of another—an attempt at humor kept me going as well. I tried to make them illustrations, in a way.

I paced myself closer to 15-20 minutes a drawing, averaging 3 or 4 an hour, sometimes 5 or 6 when I was cranking out quick ones. That was the plan, anyway. It's hard to remember.

This was all about experimentation, which kept each image fresh. I hadn't quite figured out my style yet, and I tend to think that was an advantage. It would seem more difficult to have to create 100 figures in one style, and have each one be truly unique.

MikeC said...

If I could chime in as a fellow survivor, Bob: I was desperately seeking a working methodology, because D.B. and Hendrix had recently disposed of all my previous methods. Without any fallback, each drawing seemed either a shameless crib from my past or a bizarre aberration, and it is clear now that the bizarre aberrations were more valuable. It was a torturous exercise, but looking back it solidified the importance of free experimentation in my mind, even if I don't always adhere to that now. It would absolutely behoove me to do it again, but I'm not sure that I could approach it with the appropriate openness of mind anymore. I suppose I can only try and remember the lessons learned, but hey, at least I did it once.

DB Dowd said...

Bob, having looked--literally--at thousands of these drawings over the years, these are striking to see again, in that you worked in so much narrative. A treat to see!

Unknown said...

I like how this exercise forced you out of your comfort zone. I see lots of stuff I don't ordinarily see from you.

Bob Flynn said...

Thanks, Douglas! Like I said, equally fun to unearth. As far as style goes, Bill...this was still when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do stylistically. I came to art school a cartoonist, almost had it beat out of me, and returned to the form senior year—with a different take on it, however.

This was somewhere in the middle, in the illustration program, on my path to where I eventually ended up.

Jason Curtis said...

Awesome post Bob, you da man.

I just love the pieces you displayed because many of them are done in a style that is different than what I'm accustomed to seeing from you, so it was a real visual treat.

...I hope that did't come out wrong! I'm not saying I don't like your current work (far from it). I'm just saying that it was fun to see something different.

You've definitely got the "skills to pay the bills" as the kids say. I bow to you.

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