The first assignment in my Drawing I class got me thinking about order and chaos and how chaotic my life suddenly seems now that I’ve gone back to school to get an art degree. 

The assignment

  • Draw a border around an 18 x 24 inch piece of drawing paper
  • Within the border create a grid, any kind of grid
  • Find something to draw that changes. An orange, for instance, changes when you peel it, separate the sections, and eat the pieces one by one
  • Decide on a method of chance, such as rolling dice
  • Use your method of chance to determine in which sections of your grid you will do blind contour drawings of your object in its different forms

The grid

I spent way too much time worrying  that I wouldn’t get my grid right. When I finally just started fooling around with different layouts in my sketchbook, I began to have fun and decided to go with a simple design. Orderly, controlled and clean-looking with some diagonal lines to jazz it up a little bit.



Creating the grid reminded me that I would probably feel a bit more in control of my life if I created a calendar that carved out reasonable spaces, rather than fret and worry about how my schedule suddenly feels turned upside down. It is upside down! I’m not complaining though, just observing and problem-solving.

The object that changes

I decided to draw a small bunch of grapes, ending with the stems only. The changes would be:

  • The bunch of grapes
  • My hand reaching for the grapes
  • My hand plucking one grape
  • A  grape in the palm of my hand
  • My hand putting  a grape into my mouth
  • Three grapes on the table
  • Half of the grapes gone from the bunch
  • Only a few grapes left in the bunch, with two on the table
  • All grapes gone, with only the stems left
Bunch of grapes, stems only

No more grapes

The method of chance

I chose rolling dice. My grid had 12 sections, so I used two dice. Every other time I only rolled one, because otherwise I would never have the opportunity to draw in the first section of the grid. I came up with nine changes for my grapes, so I rolled nine times. 7, 1, 12, 4, 2, 2, 7, 3, 11

The blind contours

Each of the drawings had to be done looking at the objects, not the paper. You are supposed to imagine that you are perched on the tip of your pencil and draw ever so slowly. I think of the drawings as making chaos out of order.



As my pencil slid across the paper, I admit that I was very much aware of it creeping outside the individual sections and careful not to let it happen. Yes, as a child I made sure to color inside the lines. I suspect it would be a good thing to let go a bit — in art and in life. I’m a freelance writer with deadlines for articles and blog posts and magazine columns. I write Catching Health, a health and wellness blog. I help take care of my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. I want to spend time with my family and friends. Can’t let go of any of those things, nor do I want to.

Looking at my finished assignment, I began to feel a sense of calmness as I realized that it didn’t really depict order and chaos after all. Instead what I saw was something in between. A bit disorderly looking here and there, but also intriguing and quite satisfying. Just like my new reality. Everything is going to settle in just fine.


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anne strout · September 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm

you go,girl.ordered chaos here we come.

    Diane Atwood · September 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Anne, you are my draw outside the lines heroine.

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