It’s a rare treat to watch an artist at work. To see the pen, pencil, or brush in hand. To see it hesitate in the air over the paper. To see the lower lip bitten in concentration. And then to see the mark made, and the next mark, and the marks accumulate into recognizable forms.
It’s breathtaking stuff, to witness the creative process in the moment.
In one-hour shifts between 6 and 9:30 p.m., around 70 North Carolina artists will sit down and create original work right in front of you. You’ll see works go from blank page to final artwork in media such as collage, watercolor, ink, and graphite. Those works will be available for immediate purchase for $50, with all proceeds benefitting the NCMA. (See below for a complete schedule of participating artists.)
It’s a fun, accessible way to get to see the stunning variety of artistic talent in your community, connect with individual artists whose work you fall in love with, have a drink and a bite to eat, and support the museum. Tickets are free for museum members and $5 for nonmembers (free for kids 6 and under).
Chapel Hill-based artist Carrie Alter, who will be drawing during the 7 p.m. shift along with her 9-year-old son Max McMichaels, has a history of working in public.
“I’ve always drawn in sketchbooks in bars,” Alter says, “But that’s because I can block people out around me. With my friend George Jenne, we had conversations through our marks, and we didn’t talk. We would trade sketchbooks and draw on top of what the other drew.”
She’s very comfortable working in the moment, but Alter has a little anxiety about being so on display at the NCMA event.
“I’m nervous about the Monster Drawing Rally because it’s not like we did, or like I’ve always done, in dark bars in the corner. People will be interacting and I’m quite introverted in my working,” she says. “I’m trying not to think about anything. I’m just going to go with how I’m feeling when I get there.”
Tedd Anderson is another artist with experience working outside the private studio. Anderson has hosted The Draw, a monthly community drawing gathering at The Carrack in Durham, for about three years. Anyone of any skill level can come and draw, in a supportive and even collaborative environment. Anderson also has the 7 to 8 p.m. shift at the Rally.
“It sounds awesome. I draw monsters and creatures and have been drawing them for over 10 years so it’s right up my alley,” he says, not without some trepidation about the audience’s presence. “This is very different from The Draw. I’m more like a zoo animal this time. It’s more participatory at The Draw, rather than observational.”
Anderson loves supporting NCMA through this event, and especially loves how it demystifies the activity of drawing for people who might describe themselves as non-artists.
“A lot of people get tripped up about drawing, especially people over 12 years old,” he says. “They decide it’s either a child’s thing to do or that they’re not trained enough to do it. I encourage people to have no preconceptions about what drawing is.”
“Who knows what you’ll draw, just go for it.”
If watching Alter, McMichaels, Anderson, and scores of other artists inspires you, your hands can get busy on an interactive art project sponsored by Flight, a Raleigh-based fund that launches creative projects. DJ Forge will be laying down grooves to keep the creativity flowing, too. And if you need fuel, there will be beer and wine for purchase, as well as food trucks on hand from The Parlour, Big Mike’s BBQ, and Zeke’s Meats.
Schedule of participating artists (drawing in hour-long shifts):
6 to 7 p.m.
Joy Drury Cox
Rio Aubry Taylor
William Paul Thomas
Paul Travis Phillips
7 to 8 p.m.
Elin O’Hara Slavick
Jordan Grace Owens
Thea Fotiu Howell
8 to 9 p.m.
Jean Grey Mohs
Victor Knight III