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Themed Drawing Nights: Why they're awesome, and how you can do your own!

Posted on by Rebecca Green

At our studio, The Warren, we've had multiple drawing nights, mainly the classic ol' Drink 'N Draws where people bring sketchbooks, art materials, and a drink of their choice. Each one has been wonderful - obviously when you're hanging out with your tribe, pencils in hand, and you're sharing a few beers, there's nothing better. 

Or it there?

We started having 'Themed' Drawing Nights, something I'd wanted to do since we opened the studio last year. No longer is the 'drink' the most alluring part of gathering, but the gathering itself around one central idea. The first one was based on Food and Cooking, and the stipulation to attending was that you had to bring a food item to share to the drawing table. We had ginger knobs, old food tins, cookbooks, kitchen tools, fruits - everything culinary! The second themed night was based on Nature, so we brought in sticks, pinecones, mossy branches, and flowers. During both events, instead of drawing the same old 'comfortable' things we were used to (you know, that character, or that object you always draw out of habit - especially in the presence of other artists...) we drew within a perimeter of sorts and from life, which is rare for some of us. The best part to me was that we were all on the same wavelength, drawing 'together' instead of being in our own visual worlds. 

At the end of the second event, we opened up the room to suggestions for the next Drawing Night and Erin, who has come to all the events suggested we do costumed figures! So, this past Tuesday, we all dressed up to draw for our March Drawing Night and I think it was my favorite ever.  We had incredible costumes - the attendees blew us away! What we shared wasn't like the stuffy life-drawing classes we had back in school. Instead, we drew circus ringleaders, sleeping witches, and beautiful fairies. We gave the night a little more structure than usual, timing out poses at one minute gestures, five and ten minute poses.
We also had a very cool addition to the night: A Writer! We sometimes get folks who are interested in coming but they don't 'draw'. This didn't stop our wizard, Emily Arrow from coming and writing the best poems about the models. It added an inspiring new layer, and we're thrilled she's now part of the gang. Below are some of the models with my drawings of them. (Later in the post I'll share more pics along with some of the other artist's work!) 

Lauren Lowen was the ringleader!

Lauren Lowen was the ringleader!

Emily Arrow - the sleeping wizard!

Emily Arrow - the sleeping wizard!

Olivia and Ivy MADE their costumes!!!

Olivia and Ivy MADE their costumes!!!

Carla was the 'Emo Vegan!' 

Carla was the 'Emo Vegan!' 

Green and red colored pencil 

Green and red colored pencil 

Her face was hard to draw without eyes!

Her face was hard to draw without eyes!

They were SO fun to draw!

They were SO fun to draw!

Sad about a turkey. 

Sad about a turkey. 

The whole gang! Although there were more artists that came just to draw and not to model. 

The whole gang! Although there were more artists that came just to draw and not to model. 

Here's where YOU come in! I've had inquiries about putting on events like this so I wanted to share some tips with those interested in starting their own drawing series. 

PLACE:  
- Open up your home. You don't need tons of seating, generally artists are fine drawing on the floor.
- Host it at a bar, restaurant or coffee shop. This is harder to pull of a 'theme' as you won't want a bunch of stuff crowding their establishment. If you go this route, I'd highly recommend calling the business beforehand to make sure they can accommodate you, if you need to reserve tables, and if there'd be a fee. In my experience, groups are welcomed but should be encouraged to purchase food/drinks from the business. 
- Take the event outside! Meet up at a park, a cemetery, a crowded city center, anywhere. The theme can easily be based around the location. 
- Some libraries could be a great place to host a quiet drawing session. It'd even be fun to create an event surrounding books - either in physical form, or their content. 

CONTENT:
- Themed Drawing Night can include literally anything! Shoes, food, musical instruments, coffee mugs, clothes, knick-knacks, teas, gardening tools, makeup, animals, science, sports, nature, colors, antiques, maps....and on and on. 
- Based the drawings on stories, and have people read snippets of writings. 
- Process based drawing. For example, you can all cook a dish together, drawing the ingredients, the process, and the final dish! 
- The social sketch idea is that each person works a bit on each piece, creating a large collaboration where everyone takes a piece home. 

MAKE IT HAPPEN:
Put out an invitation on Instagram, Facebook or Social of your choice. Name the time and location. I find it's good to put a start and end time, for those showing up a little later. 
- Check to find local artists in your area and email them personally to invite them. You should, of course, invite others too, that don't fall in the general 'artist' category. 
- It's fun to make an event of it. Bake some cookies, make a pot of coffee, put on some good drawing music. 

Thanks again for everyone who came to the event! And if you put on one of your own, I'd love to hear about it! 

xoxox