Saturday Studio: Go with the Flow

Naomi Vanderleest, Education Assistant

I have spent quite a bit of time lately examining the drawings by Susan Janow now on view in the exhibition Susan Janow: If I Were A Queen. Whenever I enter, a new one catches my eye, and I notice something I didn’t before.

What do you notice about this drawing? I am amazed that Janow created a grid in this work! Drawing straight lines always infuriates me; I can’t help but notice when they are crooked. Is there a pattern? Yes! Many of Janow’s drawings have irregular patterns (a pattern with noticeable changes in repetition that contrast the rest of the pattern). I like to imagine Janow’s choices when creating, where do the ideas for her patterns come from? Have you seen possible inspirations or influences? One way to learn about an artist’s process is to experiment with their techniques. Today, I am going to create my own grid using:

  • Paper (if crooked lines annoy you, too, you can use grided paper)
  • Ruler
  • Black pen
  • Coloring materials (markers, pens, colored pencils) 

Looking closely, Janow’s grid isn’t perfect; don’t stress if your lines aren’t level when creating your grid!

First, use your ruler and mark how far apart you want your lines, remembering that more space means bigger squares! I spaced my lines a quarter of an inch apart. 

Next, start drawing straight lines horizontally and vertically on the paper. TIP: When using the ruler as a straight edge, spread your hand out as wide as you can to make sure the ruler doesn’t slide. 

Now you have a grid! This will be your guide when creating your drawing. Use the coloring material of your choice to fill in squares. You can create boxes like Janow, or other shapes! I chose a color that I liked and started to fill in squares. 

I thought creating irregular patterns would bother me, but I felt relaxed when I started drawing. My feelings reminded me of Janow’s artist statement: “I go with the flow. I get mesmerized. I want people to feel happy when they see my work.” How do you feel when you create art? I think creating art is relaxing. Earlier, I mentioned that drawing straight lines angers me, but understanding Janow’s process of going with the flow kept me calm while creating. 

What were you inspired by when creating your picture? I was inspired to connect the shapes; I imagined that some shapes were resting on top of others. Janow creates grids in a variety of ways. Come check out her exhibition and think about what she was inspired by, maybe you will find your own favorite drawing. Create another Janow inspired picture based off of that work!

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