Performance Art

First, vacuum your chicken.

I’m basically a shy and retiring type, but if you want to bring out the ham in me invite me to give a drawing demo. A big thank you to the Oklahoma Pastel Society for asking me to draw at their meeting last night. What a fun group of folks, who obligingly let me drag in a large amount of woodland/jungle scenery- literally drag it in- and rock out with pencil and paper for a couple of hours in their midst.


Bringing nature indoors: this setup consisted of a 6′ long fallen log, a large piece of my ice-storm damaged pear tree (upright), leaves from my friend Konrad’s ice-storm damaged magnolia; pine cones and oak leaves from my yard, elk antlers and a white-tailed deer skull on loan from Pam’s husband Brian; a potted monstera plant from Becky for that jungle touch, and my stuffed chicken, Waldo.

There were about forty people present at the demo, seated in rows, quiet and respectful at first, but after a bit everyone loosened up and the so-serious demo became a lively cocktail party (sans drink, alas, alas) with everyone chatting, walking around, peering over my shoulder, asking questions, and having a grand time of it.


Working my way up to Waldo, I started with the monstera leaves. That’s a full sheet of heavyweight Rives BFK 100% cotton rag paper and a Koh-I-Noor Triograph pencil.

I had a blast. And from what I heard, a lot of people went home itching to do some drawing themselves. That’s what I call a successful demo.


In my left hand I’ve got a scrap of newsprint to keep my right hand from smearing the graphite around. I hate it when that happens.

On the long drive home I felt a distinct warm glow from the good fellowship and energy of the group, and there was an old familiar feeling I couldn’t quite pin down until I remembered what it was: a musician’s sense having had a really good gig.

Bird drawing is easy when the bird is stuffed

Again, thank you so much, Oklahoma Pastel Society! You guys are the best!

Jungle Fowl

13 thoughts on “Performance Art

  1. Linda Hiller says:

    Debby, I enoyed every minute of your demo Monday night. You are very skillful and the evening was great fun. I put a link to your site from my blog – I hope you don’t mind. I hope you will give us a return visit soon.
    Best regards,

  2. Becky says:

    It was an incredible demo indeed. Waldo was an excellent model and you outdid yourself, as usual. Everyone truly loved it and all were amazed by your drawings.

  3. Michelle Johnson says:

    I am still in awe of how much detail you can put to the page. You are incredibly talented. I love what you did at this demo. I can only envy the ones who were able to see you in action. Thanks for sharing this on your blog. Have a nice night.

  4. caroline crayon says:

    Mot Mot,
    That’s it! I’ve always wondered how to avoid smudging. I usually keep my hand in the shape of a chicken’s foot. Thanks.

    I wish I’d been there. Process is engaging. I like going to play practices and to rehearsals for concerts because you get to see the seams. When I look at your drawings, I often ask myself, “How did she see that? How did she do that?”

  5. 100swallows says:

    I wish I could have seen your demo but reading about it and seeing the good photos was enjoyable too. I was surprised to see–I had never thought about it–that right-handed draftsmen have a problem with smearing their chalk and charcoal and ink too.
    Did you buy that rooster stuffed or do you know a good taxidermist?

  6. zeladoniac says:

    I like the process best, too, Caroline Crayon. I’d rather hear the actors talk about the performance than see it performed. I love DVDs that have commentary from the actors and directors, it takes you backstage. That’s where I want to be.

    Waldo the chicken came from a shop somewhere in California already stuffed. I wish to believe he had a long and lusty life before his unfortunate demise. He was obviously well-cared for until I got my neglectful hands on him, but he cleaned up good after sitting on a dusty shelf for more than ten years. Not sure what breed he is, but he looks like a small game fowl or a banty with a rose comb (not the usual single comb) and a full beard. Anyone know their poultry breeds?

    The scrap of paper under the heel of the hand is cheap and easy. I also have white cotton gloves but that’s only for formal occasions. I take it you are a lefty, 100swallows?

  7. Stacy says:

    Well, that’s not something you see every day! Someone vacuuming a chicken!! I’ve been enjoying your blog since I came across it a few weeks ago. Your art is fantastic. And I like this take on a “still life”. I will be on the lookout for nature material of my own. Don’t know why I never thought of it before.

  8. bonnieluria says:

    What a thoroughly wonderful blog! Your drawings are so soulful and yet technically right on target. You’ve put together a very entertaining, enlightening and inspiring series of pages. I loved your chronology too.
    I’ll be back for sure.
    It never occurred to me that chickens were not just for sautee-ing!!

  9. TR says:

    Vacuuming the Chicken! I love it but it doesn’t really help the reputation of Oklahomans that I am always trying to improve. Hopefully folks know we only vacuum the non-living variety. I will certainly keep my eyes open for a fine feathered companion for your Foghorn Leghorn.

  10. Mike Beeman says:

    Congratulations on the Creative Spark Challenge with Pastel Journal.
    I Have fond memories of Yukon having spent part of my childhood there…especially on 4th street near the flour mill. Was there recently and can’t believe how much it has changed!

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