Previous: Take a photo of a reflection. | Lauren Zoll | The Art Assignment
Next: Make a Rug - Fritz Haeg - Instructions Only | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios



View count:25,435
Last sync:2024-04-05 12:45
Pre-order our book YOU ARE AN ARTIST (which includes new assignments!) here:

In which we feature some of the best and most interesting responses to Robyn O'Neil's Art Assignment to draw a psychological landscape:

Many thanks to all of you who have submitted responses, and we hope you continue to make psychological landscapes and share them with us. Extra special thanks to those of you whose responses we feature in this video:


Linda and Dee:

Noncommittal Writing:

Leo Quinn:

Sylvia Chin:

Andrew Orr:

The Political (Sur)reality:

Meg Gilbert:

Hannah Scharton:


Things I Wish I had Done But Didn't Do:



Kenton Visser:
So the Art Assignment we're going to be talking about today is Robyn O'Neil's challenge to draw a psychological landscape. For clarity on what that means, you should watch the episode.   This time I asked Robyn if she might join me in reviewing your responses and picking some highlights, and we are both ecstatic with what we saw.    Best of all, many of you riffed on the assignment and took some liberties with the execution. The challenge was to "draw" a psychological landscape, and I was happy to find that many of you think of drawing in the loose way that I do.    In the most traditional sense, a drawing is a work on paper, made with a pencil, pen, or the like. But then if you use paint on paper, that can be a drawing or a painting. And what about the huge range of materials that one can make a drawing on? Like, it's not impossible to make a drawing on a canvas, or a blackboard, or a rock wall, or in 3-dimensional space. Like Beatrice made this really wonderful psychological landscape on a calendar, using watercolors, where human-like characteristics are given to the wind instead of to the human.    I don't care whether it's a drawing or a painting or a book or a sculpture. It's just really great. And if you think about the plethora of techniques that could define drawing, your head starts to explode and you realize very quickly how unproductive this line of questioning is, and OH MY GOD can we just look at the artwork and take it for what it is?  Linda and Dee rediscovered their love of Legos after watching The Lego Movie and made this psychological landscape. First, Linda drew a landscape on paper, for a backdrop, and then they put a towel down to make a nice ground. And then this nice family shows up in a camper and decides to roast some hot dogs on a fire. But then this seemingly innocuous dude shows up on a canoe and suddenly their vacation has been hijacked by crazy ninja canoe-rs!    It's a great and clever use of materials and a good reminder of the importance of imaginative play, and how it can influence and expand the way you interpret images for the rest of your life.    We also like this one, submitted by Noncommittal Writing that uses crumpled paper as a ground, and gummy bears as figures. It's a small image, and it's out of focus, but that kind of gives it a painterly quality. And the bears are less bears than glowing blobs interacting with each other and the landscape.    It's mysterious and funny, and I'd love to see what it looks like blown up to a larger scale.    This is another 3-dimensional one we liked by Leo Quinn, titled Stick Figure Stems. He used grass to populate his ground, and made the excellent decision to put it at the top of the page instead of the bottom.    Sylvia admits that she's terrible at drawing and made this landscape, titled I'm So ----ng Done With Studying. What's great about it is that she used the materials around her to create a scene that pretty succinctly and successfully describes her psychological state.    We also thought this work, by Andrew Orr, titled Be Careful What You Wish For, is really successful. The story he tells unfolds over time, post-it note by post-it note. And it comes across as a narrative that could be added to or changed indefinitely.    Others of you used photography and collage to execute the assignment, and I especially liked this one, titled The Political (Sur)reality. You see two very familiar buildings that symbolize American authority, and then you realize that each scene is populated with tiny animals, tramping around and posing in these unlikely locales.   These at once remind me of how ludicrous political posturing can be while also making me think of an apocalyptic future where we're all gone, but the animals remain and take over.   Meg Gilbert used collage and the medium of video blogging to make what she titles Psychological Landscape for Pregnancy. She tells us a powerful story about losing her first child, and I have deep respect for her confrontation of such a painful and personal topic, and the attempt to work through her thoughts through art-making.    But you know, we did get some amazing drawings made with more traditional media as well. This one, by Mr. Anonymous Prisoner of the Labyrinth, is a really beautiful and restrained rendering of a mountain. The patterning on the mountain is actually Morse Code of the lyrics to the song by The Killers, "All These Things That I've Done."    Other really beautiful drawn psychological landscapes include this one, by Hannah Scharton, and this really quiet drawing by Ana, and also this work, titled Things I Wish I Had Done But Didn't Do, by The Interrabang.    And then we had responses by artists whose inventiveness astounded us, and drew us deep within the worlds of these imagined landscapes. This work, by Saranna00 makes my eyes bounce back and forth to every corner and crevice of the picture plane. Her use of patterning and color is remarkable, and I don't know what's going on, but I'm intrigued and I want to look at it for a long time.    Juliet made this drawing, called Whale City. It's a place I never knew I wanted to go, but I really like it, and I'm super impressed by her rendering skills.    Lastly, Kenton Visser takes us to Anhedonia, which is the title of the drawing, and also the name given to the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. Kenton says it's a preliminary sketch for a painting, but I think it's a very accomplished work in its own right.    Thank you for participating in The Art Assignment, and for continuing to expand my definition of drawing. To find more responses to this assignment, follow us on Tumblr, and stay tuned for a new assignment next week.