Art Studios and Lebowskifests


Tuesday, January 25th, 2011, 12:01 AM

Book: The Watchmen

Food: Spinach, mushroom, and cheese crepes

Day Activities: Climbing at the gym and painfully trying to get back into running shape

Music: Elvis Perkins in Dearland

Hello, and apologies for my tardiness. I was rather wrapped up in the art studio in the last week for winter session at the U. As part of my Wilderness and Civilization program, I was required to take an “Environmental Drawing Seminar,” which basically equated to me drawing whatever I wanted on 4×4 piece of paper for a week. Sound like a cake walk?

Well, it kind of was.

However, over the course of the week, I had two days where I spent over 12 hours in the studio, one of them being a 15 hour day. We had to be at the studio from 9 to 5 everyday, but we all ended up there well past 9 pm on most nights. I also endured several cattle marker and charcoal fights; played fetch with an 18 week old border collie/mcnab puppy named “Wit” that belonged to my art teacher (quite possibly the cutest dog I’ve seen in my life); was forcefully subjected to an episode of “Glee,” and witnessed the creation, destruction, and recreation of my art project: quite the emotional journey.

The project went through several phases. Let me elaborate:

PHASE I: Panic

This phase lasted for about as long as it took me to come up with an idea for my project (I never truly had a solid idea of the project until it was completed). My idea was to create a drawing that would capture Zen and the eternal, instantaneous moment. Easy enough, right?


PHASE II: Balls to the wall, Charcoal to Paper

Without having a completely clear idea of what I was doing, I traced my hand to the paper in pencil and elongated my fingers to be giant wavy tendrils before slapping up the Japanese kanji symbol for “Zen.” Don’t ask me why, the Muse told me to do it.

PHASE III: Enter Giant Lotus 1.0

This phase is just what it sounds like. I attempted to draw in a giant black lotus underneath the wavy hand image.

PHASE IV: Heart Wrenching Destruction

My background came out looking like crap, so my teacher gracefully suggested I cover half of my work with Gesso (a white, synthetic paint) and start over. On the inside, I was crying like a red-headed step child that didn’t get to sit at the Thanksgiving dinner table. On the outside, however, I cried like a red-headed step child that didn’t get to sit at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Just kidding. I had my tear ducts removed long ago.

But seriously, I swallowed my pride and took her advice. Starting over was probably the best thing I did for the project.

PHASE V: Giant Lotus 2.0

I scrapped my original wavy hand shenanigans and focused on the image of the black lotus, which became the final project. I ended up flipping the whole piece upside down, doing some serious shading work, and came out with something I was happy with. Mission Art: Accomplished.

PHASE VI: The Dude Abides

After a long week of struggles in the studio, I celebrated the completion of my winter session course (my first art experience, ceramics not withstanding, since freshman year of high school) by heading over to Lebowskifest at the Wilma theater on Saturday night. For those of you who haven’t seen the Coen Bros. “The Big Lebowski,” stop whatever you’re doing, get onto Netflix, and stream it. I’m not joking. This movie will change your life. Or at least it will make you laugh, and probably make you want to drink a White Russian.

Lebowskifest was a blast, complete with a film oriented costume contest, a vaginal inspired painting contest (you have to see the film to understand the significance of vaginal art in this context), copious amounts of White Russians, and a crowd of wacky robe-clad Missoulians to make the whole thing enjoyable. Can I just say I love this town?

If I could reduce all the lessons I learned from the adventures of the last week into a few maxims, they would be:

  1. All endeavors, like art, should be subject to evolution in terms of form and content, even if it means scrapping a great idea to start over
  2. Border Collie Mcnab cross puppies are flipping adorable.
  3. White Russians are delicious.
  4. Thanks for reading, be good to each other.


Back to Clay’s blog home page.


A little about me: I escape the city as often as possible to go on random outdoor excursions. I enjoy standing in the middle of bridges for extended periods of time. I love reading. I love dogs. I also love making music, dancing, potlucks, pretending to be a zombie on Halloween, gardening, running on trails, cooking with garlic, copious amount of hot sauce, falling leaves in autumn, and drinking black coffee. I also love writing, and feel fortunate to offer my weekly perspective as a college student to the Make it Missoula collective.