Color Drawing, Spring 2010

A year ago I started teaching all levels of Color Drawing (Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced) at the University of Missouri. While I really enjoy all of my classes, the Color Drawing sections have been particularly special to me.

So here’s just a review of some of the great work from this semester…

Danielle Moser, Beginning Color Drawing: Reflection Project Drawing, Oil Pastel, 24 by 18 inches.

Jillian Blanck, Beginning Color Drawing: Master Copy Drawing (after Dali’s The Hallucinogenic Toreador), Chalk Pastel, 30 by 22 inches.

Scott Fisher, Beginning Color Drawing: Master Copy Drawing (after Michelangelo’s Libyan Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel), Chalk Pastel, 30 by 22 inches.

Holly Meador, Intermediate Color Drawing: Head Planes Model Drawing, Chalk Pastel, 44 by 30 inches.

Holly Meador, Intermediate Color Drawing: Self Portrait as Flaming June (after Lord Frederic Leighton’s Flaming June), Chalk Pastel, 30 by 36 inches. (Unfortunately, this drawing was stolen from my flat files at the University – I’m actually pretty pissed off about it. How can we expect our students to be willing to put forth their best efforts when their peers don’t respect that work? Really unbelievable.)

Roxanne Kueser, Advanced Color Drawing: Courtney, Chalk Pastel, 24  by 18 inches.

Brittany Carney, Advanced Color Drawing: Neil (The Proper Posture), Chalk Pastel, 24  by 18 inches.

Marcus Miers, Advanced Color Drawing: Untitled Composition, Chalk Pastel, 60  by 45 inches.

I want to thank all of my Color Drawing students for making the class so enjoyable. I could have easily had 100 drawings to show from the production of my 24 students; I don’t mean any disrespect to those I’ve not displayed here. These works do show the overall quality and worth ethic I’ve seen throughout all of the students this semester. I’m so glad I got to work with them. Here’s to setting the bar high for next semester!

New Tondo Works

I’m ramping up for a large solo show next year. Have been in the studio working in gouache on paper, inventing and reinventing figures, adjusting colors, fiddling with shapes, etc. Two of the studies are below.

Pivot, 23 inches in diameter

Know, 23 inches in diameter

I’ve also been working on two large works – 48 inches in diameter, oil on canvas on panel. This one is called Certainty.

Drawing 3 Student Work

In my Drawing 3 (basically Life Drawing) course at the University of Missouri, we have a series of projects that focus on developing drawings that have a dynamic, shifting arrangement of bodies and spaces. The goal is for students to hone their ability to combine observed form and light with a knowing, thoughtful editing of the overall structure in order to create/direct the psychological environment of the picture. In earlier projects, students are asked to create a drawing of a model who, after a certain period of time, shifts part of his or her pose. Students have to adapt their drawing, learning how to react the experience of seeing rather than freak out that everything isn’t the same (as if anything stays the same anyway). Later on, we work on a longer series of poses over the course of 8 or 10 class periods. Using up to three different models who strike a couple different poses, the class develops larger drawings that incorporate the combination of the different figures in some kind of invented, yet observation-based, pictorial framework. Below are a few examples of what students have done. Keep in mind that none of the models posed together, and often very little of the stage arrangement was the same. I could go on and on about how I believe these projects really strengthen the students to have an EXPERIENCE of art rather than simply executing an exercise, but I’ll let their work speak for them. Click on each for a larger version.

by Lindsey Cole

by Dan Jimenez

by Roxanne Kueser

by Charlie Hostman

by Jared Fogue

by Marcus Miers

by Mallory Parsons

by Derek Frankhouser

Neil Gavett, Model Extraordinare

The Columbia Daily Tribune is running a feature on Neil Gavett, one of the primary models I’ve used in my work over the last couple of years. He’s a pretty cool guy, has an interesting back story, and a staggering plethora of tales to tell. Neil is also a professional art model; he’s posed for nearly 10,000 hours and has been working consistently for over a decade in the Mid-Missouri area. Below is the first painting I ever did of Neil (Fall 2007).

neil I’ve been honored to get to know the man. In working with him, I have tried to create images worthy of the symbiotic relationship we’ve developed, a relationship that could never happen without his deep intention and purposeful action as a man and a model.

Here’s to many more pictures, Neil!

UPDATE: Here’s a related item from the New York Times today: “In the Altogether.”

“Strive” – An Exhibition of Pastel Work

My show, Strive, opens on November 2, 2009, at Bellevue College Gallery in Bellevue, Washington.


Here are a few links to some of the work that will be in the show:

The Impossible Geometries of Contemplation


Current Events

Revealer (Forced #1)

And here is my statement about the works, written for the show:

Strive – Pastel Works by Matthew Ballou

The group of works I present here – each in the tondo format and created in many layers of pastel – is a small contemplation on the gesture or shape of struggle, concern, and distress.

I have created dense surfaces and chromatic environments meant to play in the distance between implied narrative and votive stillness. Though I take cues from the ways bodies move through and react to stress or pain, these are not pictures of actual pain, nor are they meant to address the true physical reality of hurting. They are instead symbolic stylizations of the aches we feel, inspired by an iconography of bodily form and posture. They imagine the machinations we get up to when in states of deep anxiety, whether in our banal daily lives or amid the worrisome questions of intellectual engagement. They are about a kind of conceptual discomfiture distilled through the image of the body.

My desire for each work is two-fold. First, I aim for the artworks to stimulate reflection, creating some key resonance in viewers, perhaps via the memory of past physical or metaphysical tension. Secondly, I want the artwork to function as an argument for the image of the body as a meaningful metaphor beyond the constraints of individual persons or singular moments.

A summation: “Everything takes form, even infinity. We seek to determine being and, in so doing, transcend all situations, to give a situation of all situations. Man’s being is confronted with the world’s being. The being of man is an unsettled being which all expression unsettles.” – Gaston Bachelard, from The Poetics of Space

Iconoclast, Stage 12 or 13

ballou iconoclast stage 12 detail

Well, I’m still moving forward on the Iconoclast painting. It’s now rounding the final corner and I’m feeling the tensions and densities that I was aiming for coming out. Above is a detail showing the working, building, statement and restatement across the structures of the head and upper body. Below is a full shot of the piece. I’ll add some statement regarding the reasons for the piece and what I’m aiming at with it once it has announced its completion… probably a couple weeks.

ballou iconoclast 12