DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Life Drawing at ADaPT


Sample works by visual artists participating in the ADaPT Festival Life Drawing Score, clockwise from left: Michael Alan, Jillian Bernstein, KIMCHIKIM, Masha Braslavsky, Fred Hatt, Susan M. Berkowitz, IURRO.

Sample works by visual artists participating in the ADaPT Festival Life Drawing Score, clockwise from left: Michael Alan, Jillian Bernstein, KIMCHIKIM, Masha Braslavsky, Fred Hatt, Susan M. Berkowitz, IURRO.

ADaPT (A Dance and Physical Theater) Festival, founded in 2011, hosts performances, master classes, and other events in its home base of Santa Barbara, California, and in locations around the world, including one on May 30, 2013 at CPR (Center for Performance Research) in Brooklyn. Festival director Misa Kelly is a dancer and choreographer with her company ArtBark International, and she’s also a life drawing artist and model – please click that last link to see some of Misa’s wonderful drawings.

Adapt Festival Program Orson, May 30 at CPR, features twelve performances by a diverse artists – the link has a full list and descriptions of the pieces. Misa’s a maximalist, surrounding her performance events with installations, projections and opportunities for audience members to express their own creativity. For this program, she asked me to recruit some visual artists and to act as monitor for a special “Life Drawing Score” in conjunction with the performance program.

Art modeling/life drawing is a form of performance, a creative interaction between models (many of whom are also performers in other contexts) and visual artists. This interaction is rarely seen outside of the small community of artists and models. Artwork may be exhibited, but the art audience may be unaware of the collaborative nature of artists’ work with models. Likewise, the dance and theater audience may not know that the performers’ experience modeling for artists is a vital part of their performance practice. Misa decided this special creative relationship deserved a place in a festival of dance and physical theater.

Misa Kelly, photo by Am Wu

Misa Kelly, photo by Am Wu

Here’s what will happen on May 30:

Invited visual artists will be having a private life drawing session in the performance space starting at 6 pm. I’ll be the session monitor. Our models will be Misa Kelly and one other dancer. (There will be no audience for this, until the last 20 minutes of it.)

At 7:15 the audience is invited to the Pre-Show in the lobby. There will be a video installation, sage smudging, and various activities intended to engage audience members to express their own creativity through writing, drawing, and moving.

At 7:35 the audience members will be allowed into the performance space to witness and/or participate in the last 20 minutes of the life drawing session.

At 8:05 there will be a full program of twelve dance and physical theater performances in the performance space. There are descriptions of all of these pieces here: ADaPT Festival Program Orson.

At the intermission (around 9:00) the audience will return to the lobby to see an informal exhibition of work created during the earlier private life drawing session.

Location: CPR (Center for Performance Research), 361 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

Links for participating artists and models:


Jillian Bernstein


Masha Braslavsky

Michael Alan

Misa Kelly

Susan M. Berkowitz


Upcoming Performance and Exhibition

Gaia ReBirth, Dec. 8, 2012 at the Meta Center

This weekend I’m doing body paint for multiple dancers for a performance, and in January my work is appearing in an exhibition of self-portraits by contemporary and 20th century artists.  Here is the info:


As we elevate our consciousness and evolve as spiritual beings, our planet is effected as well. The vibrational increase has been a catalyst for the re-awakening of feminine energy.  As this planet moves out of darkness and into light and old paradigms of greed, violence and war are replaced with love , she undergoes a transformation…a rebirth. We all play a role in the Rebirth. The power is within each of us to heal ….through love.  Join us as we celebrate the Spiritual Rebirth of our planet through music and dance that is uplifting to your body and soul.

The Meta Center
214 West 29th Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Bet 7th & 8th Ave
Dec 8,2012, 8:00pm to 10:00pm
$25 at the door
Children under 16 free entry
Healthy snacks & Refreshments will be provided.
Contact information at www.theartistdream.com
ZEN HOLMES www.zensuality.us
SERA SOLSTICE www.boldbellydance.com
PIA MONIQUE MURRAY www.pmmdc.com
HANNAH’S FIELD www.hannahsfield.com
STEVEN & GINA www.wedidj.com
Goussy Celestin (dancer)
Dakota HD (dancer)
Zahava (dancer) www.LoveMakingDances.com
Fred Hatt (body paint artist) www.fredhatt.com
Shekere Master – (MR MAGIC) KEVIN NATHANIEL HYLTON www.mbirasanctuary.com
Kora player – (West African Harp) SUSO SALIEU www.salieususo.fourfour.com
Trombonist — Ben Gerstein www.bengerstein.com
live Electronics — GL Diana www.gldianamusic.com
Percussionist – SAGE LOGAN
Alison Artis of Angel Artistry www.soulangelbeauty.com
H-Ankh Risingsun.
Here’s a video clip from an earlier event with most of the same musicians and dancers Pia Monique Murray and Zen Holmes, with body art by me:
And, coming soon, my work will be featured in the group exhibition Faces of Figureworks: Self Portraits, open January 5 – March 3, 2013 at Figureworks, 168 N. 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY  11211.  The opening reception will be Friday, January 11th, 6-9 pm.  When I have more details about the show, they will appear here.


In the Flow

Art Seeds performance drawing #4,  30 seconds, 2012, by Fred Hatt

A drawing or painting is an object, an arrangement of marks on a surface, inert and mute.  So what do we mean when we speak of a picture having dynamism or tension, energy or lyricism?  There could be multiple factors.  Movement may be pictorially implied.  Shapes and colors may be arranged in ways that suggest rhythmic repetition or create tensions of weight or light that, like certain chords in music, predict a resolving change.

For me, the most direct path to capturing energy in pictorial visual art is simply to approach drawing or painting as an art of movement.  The brush strokes or pencil marks are tracings of the movement of the artist’s hand.  The hand dances what the eyes see or what the spirit feels.  Movement is the most direct way of expressing grace or violence, serenity or frolic.  A drawing doesn’t move, but it is a product of movement.  The kinetics of its making affect the quality of its marks in a way that viewers can feel.

Direct gestural expression is something drawing and painting have that still photography generally lacks.  For me, that’s a compelling reason to focus on that aspect of art, in this age glutted with mechanically reproduced images.

A longstanding exercise for me is sketching dancers as they move.  It’s one of those things that’s almost impossible to do, like getting a sweet sound out of a violin, and for that reason a great thing to practice, practice, practice.  In this post I’ll share a few recent examples of the rough and spontaneous results of this pursuit.

The thirty-second ink-brush drawing that heads this post was made during a recent performance organized by my friend the dancer Kayoko Nakajima.  She and Carly Czach performed improvised dance in timed intervals, interspersed with similarly timed intervals in which several artists made drawings in response to the movement they’d just witnessed.  Kayoko’s blog for the project shows the resulting drawings of four artists (including me), and the following video by Charles Dennis shows excerpts from the performance, so you can get an idea what the dance was like and how the audiences watched the drawing as well as the dance.

The form of dance that Carly and Kayoko are doing here is called Contact Improvisation.  Notice how the dancers pull or push each other.  Each dancer is feeling her weight in dynamic relation to the other.  The principles of Contact Improv are closely related to the martial art Aikido.  One dancer may push into the other, and the other may respond by redirecting a straight move into a curved one.  One may feel the other’s weight and roll under or push upward.  There’s a constant give-and-take, a shifting flow in which every movement is a transformation of the movement that feeds into it.  Although my drawing hand is dancing solo, not pushing against another hand, I try to capture this feeling of each movement of the brush arising out of the preceding movement.

Art Seeds performance drawing #6, 8 minutes, 2012, by Fred Hatt

In this performance, periods of drawing alternated with periods of dancing, so the drawings are not made during direct observation of the movement.  Thus they capture a memory of motion, not a response in the moment.  The figurative elements in the drawing above also reflect memories rather than direct perceptions.  The brush flows following the aftertaste of a spinal curve, and that curve shifts into the helical analogue of a remembered rotation.

Kayoko’s post features several drawings each by Felipe Galindo, Ivana Basic, Michael Imlay, and myself.  It’s interesting to compare the different ways each of us instinctively channeled the dance into our drawings.  Felipe, an illustrator, focuses on relationships and indicates the directions of movement with arrows and arcs.  In Ivana‘s drawings, the contours of bodies merge with the contours of looping movement, and the bodies don’t just contact, but merge and interpenetrate.  Michael takes the sinuous quality of the dance and projects it imaginatively in biomorphic shapes and suggestions of musical structure.

The night before Kayoko’s performance, I got myself warmed up for it at Cross Pollination, an occasional event at Green Space Studio in Queens where artists draw, dancers move, and musicians play in a freeform interactive space.  These drawings are made in direct observation of dancers, not by memory, though the movement is generally quick enough that once an impression travels from eye to hand to paper it’s a memory anyway.  The next two watercolor sketches are from Cross Pollination.

Tensegrity, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Expressing energy with brush or pencil is not so much about putting the maximum amount of energy into the effort.  In a recent life drawing class I noticed one of the artists scratching away madly, his face screwed up with tension.  But when I looked at his drawing it was scribbly and diffuse.  It expressed something of the physical effort of the artist, but nothing of the quality or presence of the model.  The key to capturing that more subtle energy is the clear focus of the artist’s movement in the work.  It’s like the difference between the flailing of a drunkard and the efficient punch of a martial artist.  The first may expend more raw frenzy, but it’s the second that will knock you out.

Stances of Rest, 2012, by Fred Hatt

I try to be immersed in the experience of perceiving the bodies, feeling the flow of movement and of form.  The way a muscle curls around from the shoulder blade to the top of the arm bone is not so different, when you follow it smoothly, from the way one person reaches out and draws another into an embrace.  Because my brush is moving in a state of grace, I experience everything as a unified current.  It’s obvious that movement is something that flows, but when my mind and hand are dancing, I understand that form is also something that flows.

I try to bring that kind of perception to my practice of life drawing.  The body is a dynamic structure, not a static one.  Every part exists in a relationship of tension or balance with other parts of the body and of its environment.  When the drawing brush freely explores how one part connects with another through movement, the drawings capture some of the sense of the life force that we perceive in a living being.

Chuck, eight quick poses, grid of four watercolor sketches, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Chuck, above, and Kuan, below, are models that give their all in the quick (1-2 minute) poses.  Chuck is an artist whose own paintings show a wonderful sense of movement, sometimes soaring, sometimes tangled.  Kuan is a dancer and choreographer.  She moves with great clarity and takes still poses that look like frozen instants of explosive action.  Their quick poses are wondrous things to see.  But they are so fleeting!  Only by following the flow of the form with the movement of my brush can I capture some impression of the energy they share with us.

Kuan, sixteen quick poses, grid of watercolor sketches, 2012, by Fred Hatt


Dancing/Drawing Performance

Kayoko Nakajima and Carly Czach, dancing Contact Improvisation, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

On Saturday, February 18, I was drawing as part of this performance by one of my longtime collaborators, Kayoko Nakajima.  Kayoko is a dancer and a deep student of the anatomy of movement.  Here are all the details:

 “ARt Seeds to ARt Sprouts Project 2012”

Concept: Kayoko Nakajima

Improvisational/Contact Improvisational Dance: Kayoko Nakajima, Carly Czach
Improvising Drawing: Fred Hatt, Michael Imlay,Ivana Basic, Jennifer Giuglianotti
Costume: Aya Shibaraha
Video: Charles Dennis
February 18, Sat. 2012
Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance
558 Fulton Street, 2nd Floor (near Flatbush Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
This performance was a part of NYFA Bootstrap Festival 2012 A Celebration of Movement and Interdisciplinary Art
featuring Nicola Iervasi, Artistic Director, Mare Nostrum Elements, Kayoko Nakajima with Carly Czach, and Clark Jackson.


November Thursday Night

November, my video collaboration with dancer/choreographer Jung Woong Kim, is on the program at the Frameworks Dance Film Series this Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at Dance New Amsterdam.  Click here for all the details.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

Theme Tweaker by Unreal