Week 3: Frame by Frame


For the past 2 weeks, we have been focused on re-acquatinting ourselves with familiar/unfamiliar surroundings. The field guides gave insights to memories, stories and some of the hidden objects that populate our domestic spaces. Last week’s color theory projects asked you to notice the specific detail of color on surface and how color interacts to animate your space and how artists employ color to explore emotion, narrative, illusion. This week you will be asked to move your attention away from static objects to focus on the people in your environment.

The main project this week asks you to use the body as inspiration for the creation of an animated drawing. This drawing will be achieved through the frame by frame documentation of marks as you layer and erase them.

Before you begin the main project here is an exercise to help you loosen up as you begin to think about movement and how to record it. 

Exercise: Gestural movement drawings

Do 10, 2-minute drawings. These can be done on plain copy paper, your sketchbook or whatever you have handy. Best done with pencil, pen, marker; especially one that can vary in width (like a brush tip or bullet tip). 

Begin by choosing a subject this can be a member of your family, a passerby or neighbor you see from the window or even your pet. Pick a point on your subject’s continuously moving body and follow it. You are not making a representation of the body but of its movement. Try to keep a central vertical axis for the body near the center of your paper. Changes in speed and other nuances can be interpreted through your sense of touch with the drawing.

This is a good project for including your housemates to participate in. You can observe them while doing chores such as cooking or doing yard work. If you live in a city perhaps your window is a good portal into the everyday movements of commuters and passersby. We have included links to 3 videos of tap dancers and figure skaters if you need some inspiration for bodies in continuous movement.

Figure Skaters

Fred Astaire, Swing time

Some examples of gestural drawings:

In these examples of gesture drawing, notice how each artist has not focused on the outlines of the body. Instead, they try to capture a sense of movement through the body. Gesture allows for TONS of expressive qualities through your own sense of movement and tactility!

Artists top to bottom: Susan Rothenberg, Patricia Hannaway, Eugene Delacroix

Main Project: Draw, Draw, Erase, Draw, Draw

Use the body as inspiration for the creation of an animated drawing. This drawing will be achieved through the frame by frame documentation of marks as you layer and erase them. To prepare please watch the videos below of artists William Kentridge and Matt Bollinger. 

William Kentridge at SF MoMA

William Kentridge, Art 21

Matt Bollinger

Notice how each “scene” is one drawing done on one sheet of paper. We’re not asking you to do more than one “scene” (but you are encouraged to be as ambitious as you wish!). The movement that occurs in each is done by erasing and re-drawing, or with Bollinger’s paintings, smearing, and re-painting. Kentridge uses willow charcoal, which erases relatively easily. 

While we are setting this up as a drawing project, we’re open to approaches to this utilizing collage, photo-montage, etc. You are welcome to do this digitally if you prefer, but please keep in mind this is not meant to be multiple-frame or stop-motion animation. It should be one “drawing” or “painting” that changes, and a photo is taken with each change you make. 

Expectation: approx. 30+ photos. If done as one drawing that is then modified, the first stage of the drawing might take an hour; each change after that might take 5-20 minutes

**Make particular effort to frame each photo the same and with the same lighting. If you have a camera tripod this will help you to take photos with the same framing and focus each time. A free slideshow APP (such as SlideshowMaker) or stop motion APP ( such as Stop Motion Studio) in your phone will be a convenient way to assemble the images as a sequence; they will need to be shared/exported as a video file. You can also choose to use movie editing software if you’re familiar and have access. Consider making a sequence that will LOOP when played. 

Frame Tip_stop motion

Here is an example of student work:


Here are extra reference if you are interested in a broader context of animation, the body, and images:

Oliver Herring

Radio Lab: photography and truth