Friday, November 16, 2012

Portland Art Museum: The Body Beautiful & Bacchanal Ballroom

Not too long ago, I joined fantastic local comics artist Lucy Bellwood for sketching at the Portland Art Museum. The current exhibit features body-focused Greek statues and ceramics. It's not a huge exhibit, but the works are gorgeous and well worth sketching from multiple angles.
  Portland Art Museum - The Body Beautiful Portland Art Museum - The Body Beautiful Portland Art Museum - The Body Beautiful Portland Art Museum - The Body Beautiful

Tonight I attended the museum's dance party event associated with this exhibit: Bacchanal Ballroom.
The evening started off with dancers posing in costume atop column-like platforms as living statues. Perfect for sketchers, right? Right, but the poses were often very fast and there was no knowing how long they'd last - going gestural was the only way!

Bacchanal Ballroom (NaNoDrawMo 2012 - 8 of 50) Bacchanal Ballroom (NaNoDrawMo 2012 - 9 of 50)  Bacchanal Ballroom (NaNoDrawMo 2012 - 11 of 50)
 At some point in the evening, the dancers leapt down from the columns and assembled on the floor for a steamy dance number - which was, incidentally, choreographed by my friend Jessica Wallenfels! As soon as that piece finished, the crowd spilled forward and danced among the dancers. It was actually quite a sight, all the regular folks shimmying up next to these scantily clad paragons of beauty. And yes, eventually I put down the sketchbook and joined them as well. Bacchanal Ballroom (NaNoDrawMo 2012 - 12 of 50)
Afterwards I used the photobooth as a means to display my great heroism in sketching in challenging scenarios...

  Bacchanal Ballroom Bacchanal Ballroom
I didn't take any photos, but there are some good ones available courtesy of Byron Beck on Flickr.

Kudos to the Portland Art Museum for putting on a truly unusual event that provided a lot of visual stimulation for me as a sketcher! Um, not to mention as a fan of beautiful bodies.

I'm planning to attend a second time, hopefully with some of my fellow Portland Urban Sketchers!


  1. I'm so glad you posted these! They show the range you have from drawing the still figures in black and white to the tremendous energy you've given the dancers. And the photos of you sketching are delightful--in an Annie Leibovitz kind of way.

  2. I love all the sketches, but I have to say I'm very intrigued by the gesture sketches with the coarsely-painted toned backgrounds. What a neat way to add color and dynamic texture to an otherwise spare gesture sketch!

    1. Thanks, Vicky and Katura! Katura, the toned backgrounds (and there are more of those from the Swashbuckler's Ball in my flickr feed, and this video flipping through a small sketchbook are how I make use of regular Moleskine notebooks. The thin paper isn't good for most of the media I like to use but it works fine for this purpose. I use watered down acrylic and a paper towel to prime the pages. Some of the pages stay blank but when I turn to a spread that has color, it's exciting and inspirational.

  3. These are some cool sketches, and that sounds like a fun event, wish I could've attended. I really like the sketch of the crowd of people dancing, very energetic.