Tag Archives: Kathleen Farrell

From The Director: The Complexity of Drawing

Colleen Buzzard, drawing on the wall

Colleen Buzzard, drawing on the wall to complete one of her pieces in the exhibition

What isn’t a drawing? In the beginning of 2012, I taught a class at RIT on Tuesday nights called Experimental Drawing. On the first night, I started the course by asking this question and proceeded to take the students on a magical journey (a.k.a. “boring slideshow”) that chronicled drawing since the dawn of time according to Bradley Butler. It was of course a truncated version of the history of drawing. Within the slideshow there were typical drawings made with pencils and there were paintings and there were sculptures and other things that were more experimental (hence the name of the course). It was a way to show the students that classifications don’t always work in art. Just as in other real life examples, the definitions of things that seem so certain may end up being in more of a fluid state.

Installation view of exhibition

Installation view of exhibition

Our current exhibition, The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational  is a great example of a portion of that slideshow. It has drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures but all of them fit into this exhibition as drawings.

Looking at drawings by Faithanne Carapella in her studio in Syracuse, NY

Looking at drawings by Faithanne Carapella in her studio in Syracuse, NY

The large-scale works by Faithanne Carapella bounce back and forth between drawing and collage as she often uses torn paper, photographs, and found objects among her marks of charcoal and ink. Her process involves making a drawing, tearing it apart and finding a way to make it whole again, often with the other materials filling in the cracks. When I was in her studio, I found myself holding torn sections up to see the full image as they hung off the wall.

Kathy Farrell's mixed media drawings, prior to framing

Three of Kathy Farrell’s mixed media drawings, prior to framing

Kathy Farrell also uses collage. Her mixed media work tends to  walk the line between drawing and painting but her approach to making artwork is always based in drawing. Her use of line, whether made with a marker, paintbrush, or scraggly bits of press type is lyrical and improvisational and will often interact with lines or printed words found on the torn pieces of maps or other printed ephemera in the composition.

Colleen Buzzard, Untitled wall drawing with graphite and wire

Colleen Buzzard, untitled wall drawing with graphite and wire

In thinking about the use of line, no one’s work in the show best exemplifies the simple beauty of a line more than Colleen Buzzard’s  Untitled graphite and wire drawing (Colleen is pictured above drawing on the gallery wall). This simplicity is deceiving, however, because this piece is multilayered. The drawn portion, extending from the floor to the top of the wire, is imagined as being the same line that punches out through the wall into 3 dimensional space. This floating line of wire also makes a “drawing” all on its own, casting several shadows onto the wall, some of which are even more predominate than her own drawn pencil line.

Installation shot of Bill's drawings

Installation view of Bill Stephens’ pen and ink drawings

Bill Stephens gives us another way to reimagine space as well with his intimate pen and ink drawings, which depict cubist inspired architecture and organic human/nature hybrids. Many of the drawings in his cube house series have more than one orientation, which leaves you wondering which way is up.

detail of "Disconnect 4", colored pencil on panel by Mandi Antonucci

detail of “Disconnect 4″, colored pencil on panel by Mandi Antonucci

Mandi Antonucci’s colored pencil drawings are a consistent surprise for gallery visitors who assume they are painted in gouache or acrylic. Her ability to model the human form in this way with colored pencil is impressive. Beyond the dexterity with the medium, the composition and point of view she offers us is even more engaging. Faces interrupted by geometric patterns and flat color as well as homes being overtaken by glowing crystal formations are the basis of these surreal drawings on wood panel and paper.

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Installation view of “Fragments 2 and 3″, two charcoal drawings by Tricia Butski

Two distinct bodies of work by Buffalo artist, Tricia Butski are also included in the exhibition. Her Lapse series includes small overlapping linear outlines of faces with ink on paper, making us see many sides of a person at the same time. While the heavier, darker charcoal drawings in her Semblance series give us a single view but through veils of distortion and abstraction. Both avenues offer us a way to consider the ideas of memory and identity.

Overall, the goal for this exhibition is to show that drawing is a versatile medium. It can be done with a single pencil and sheet of paper (or wall) or it can be complex and exist somewhere between a drawing and a painting/sculpture/etc. See The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational before it closes on Friday, September 28. You can also preview many of the pieces included in the exhibition on Artsy and view photos on Flickr.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Kathleen Farrell

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

Kathleen Farrell at the opening reception of the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational

I love making art from discards, lost, recycled, unwanted things. I have been looking in other people’s trash for most of my life. I can go for hours, days, just looking for objects, in search of something that will later be worked into a painting or collage. I tuck them away when another idea takes over and revisit them looking for  just that piece for completion of a artwork.  If I like the look of something or it conjures up a memory or thought it goes into my stash bin for safekeeping. I work on my art whenever possible. I have many projects going at once always in search for that perfect discarded piece of wood or partial part of a toy that will take on another life.

Discarded book

Discarded book

I love to draw and do so every day. An activity that has remained constant since I was a child. I draw in meetings, at parties, poetry readings, listening to music in bars, while watching baseball, and especially at boring meetings. More or less working out ideas, frustrations or for pure comic relief. I work in small manageable formats whenever possible keeping several projects going at once. I prefer drawing my thoughts, rather than speaking my thoughts, whenever possible.

Me drawing with two hands

Me drawing with two hands

I can work almost anywhere that has a flat surface.  As a child I would get in trouble in school for drawing in my composition books, so I would take notes on the desk top and draw in an other book on my lap or in the compartment under the desktop. Being both righty and lefty (ambidextrous) this skill set has helped me throughout my life to cope with my need to draw. I attend the Rochester International Jazz Festival each summer and do drawings of musicians and concert goers. I draw a lot when waiting in lines.

I have numerous sketchbooks scattered everywhere. I will purchase various types of sketchbooks, chosen for shape and paper.  My favorite is the Moleskine Japanese book, as it has one continuous page that usually becomes a landscape of a sort. I participate each year in the Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook project.  I have eleven sketchbooks in their library. At first it was hard to give the books up, to not have them in my possession.  Now somehow knowing that my books can be viewed by visitors at the library in Williamsburg NY almost on a daily basis feels good to me.

discard

Discarded book drawing

I work with just about every drawing medium under the sun.  Markers and colored pencils are my favorite. I use gouache, watercolor, pen and ink and combined all that with collage materials.  Of late I have been using discarded library books. It pains be to see such nicely bound paper go in the trash. Lately, like drawing on bogus paper, I collage,draw and paint on that surface. I have a small studio in my basement with many  and various surfaces to work on.  I listen to all types of music while working out ideas.

Two-handed

Two-handed

I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. I love to travel to see new places and ideas.  I have worked at Monroe Community College since November 1986 as the Director of Monroe Community College’s Mercer Gallery which entails administering an arts program of gallery exhibitions, artists workshops, residencies and an artist lecture series. I am a full professor in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at MCC. I teach in both Commercial Illustration, and Graphic Design programs, and teach various other courses from time to time.  I love every aspect of my job.

I teach a sketchbook class that I developed with another colleague, Jason Smith, about 10 years ago. The course has developed into a very successful course that is offered each semester with two sections.  Many of the students are not visual artists, most are studying the sciences or engineering.  It is a great course that allows these students to relax, mediate and exercise their imagination on a daily basis.

Detail of drawing

Detail of drawing

I am the recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities, the NISOD Excellence Award for Teaching, the John and Suzanne Roueche Award for Teaching and the Dr. Wesley T. Hanson Award for Teaching Excellence.

I surround myself with colleagues, friends, family, madmen and poets who do not judge and will nudge me when I fall asleep.

Video of Kathy Farrell, drawing with both hands!

Click to watch the video of me drawing with both hands!


Kathleen Farrell is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

For Drawing Sake

drawings by Harold T. Coogan, Jim Downer, Kathleen Farrell, Jason Flack, Peter Monacelli, and Jason Smith

Opening Reception: March 8, 2014; 4– 7p.m. 

Live Music at the opening by The Dady Brothers!

The exhibition will showcase traditional and non-traditional drawings by Harold T. Coogan, Jim Downer, Kathleen Farrell, Jason Flack, Peter Monacelli, and Jason Smith. All of the artists in this show are affiliated with Monroe Community College of Rochester, New York.

A free drawing workshop with the artists in the exhibition will be held on Saturday, April 5, 2014, 10a.m.–12:30p.m. at the gallery. Supplies will be available for purchase in the gallery shop and participants may also bring their own supplies. All who attend will be able to contribute to the exhibition with drawings made during the workshop!