Larry Hayden admits the prospect of a drawing exercise seemed tedious. He had not been asked to do an exercise since art school, and nearly bristled at the prospect.
He won’t make that mistake again.
The exercise came up in 2010 as a part of a drawing class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle, and it altered the course of his life and artistic expression.
The drawing exercise evolved into a project that resulted in a continuous drawing that measures almost 100 feet long. Beginning Tuesday, Hayden will show a 12-foot portion of the drawing at Aucocisco Galleries in Portland. It is on view through March 15.
The section at Aucocisco represents a small section of two drawings that emerged from the Haystack class. The other is 135 feet long.
Hayden shrugs, “I got on a roll. I just kept going with it.”
The brilliance of “The Continuous Drawing” lies in its simplicity. Hayden used rag paper and Chinese ink. He loaded inexpensive brushes with varying amounts of ink, and simply made a series of parallel vertical lines, over and over again. At first, his lines were measured and precise. Later, they became loose, reflecting the pacing of his steps, the inconsistent amounts of ink he loaded on his brush and how he held the brush.
He rolled the paper out on a work table, and applied the ink while walking backward.
The other appealing element of the drawing is its lack of pretension. You don’t need to know anything about art to appreciate it. You just to have to open your eyes and your mind to the wonder of such an exercise, which continued over a few years and was interrupted only by Hayden’s treatment for a cancer.
Among other reasons, gallery director Andres Verzosa said Hayden’s continuous drawing project appealed to him because it contrasted with other work by Hayden. The artist is an exceptional draftsman, but this piece is less about detail and more about process and being in the moment, Verzosa said.
Being in the moment is something Hayden tries to do in all aspects of his life. He’s moved on to other things. His current art project involves taking photographs around the yard of his Portland home and posting them on Facebook. In and of themselves, these new photos hold nothing remarkable in them. Hayden’s yard is like anybody else’s yard. But these are photos about a specific time and place, and that makes them specific and unique, he said.
The sum is greater than the individual parts, he said.
“It has to do with keeping your eyes open,” Hayden said. “My motto is just keep your eyes open.”
Hayden, 64, has shown this work before. He exhibited a different section at Aucocisco in 2011, and showed the entire length of the drawing at June Fitzpatrick’s now-closed High Street gallery in 2010.
He stopped making the drawing because he exhausted the muse.
He remains grateful that Haystack gave him the chance to focus and delve.
“Haystack gives an artist what every artist needs. He needs time. They feed you, they give you a place to stay. Your work is looked at, discussed and taken seriously. You’re in this great atmosphere. No one would rather be someplace else,” he said.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: