Drawing on Trees
The second floor of Alexis Hall screams, “eclectic.” Drips of paint speckle the concrete floor and stain old towels. A cow skull sits on a table behind a box fan. Three balloons covered in white plaster hang from an easel. An errant cafeteria cup brims over with red paint. The painted words on a table in the corner read, “I did it because I miss him so dearly and he’s alive here in this room.” An incomplete painting of a motorcycle speeds off a canvas in an homage to Picasso’s Guernica. It’s the perfect location for four students of differing majors to meet and throw paint on a canvas to their hearts’ content. This is Drawing on Trees, SFUAD’s student run studio art club.
“I got the inspiration in my Drawing class,” says Freshman Studio Art major and club founder Samantha Narhuminti. She originally envisioned the club as a way for artists to get together to work on homework, but the idea evolved into a group for all SFUAD students to collaborate on works of art. “I also wanted to see more art on campus,” she says.
The first project completed by the Drawing on Trees club hangs in the cafeteria above the windows looking out on the quad. Part of the process for the piece involved throwing paint onto the canvas. The group’s current work in progress consists of a wooden board covered in gold spray paint. CMP Major Romario Powell cuts out masking-tape stencils and sticks them to the surface of the wood. Narhuminti pulls out a guitar and strums as the students swirl oil paint onto the canvas. She instructs them to direct their motions to the rhythm of the music. When the piece is complete, it will go on display in O’Shaughnessy Performance Space.
When asked how the group got its name, Narhuminti responds, “It’s just came to me while I was in Drawing class one day that since paper comes from trees, we’re all just drawing on trees. It was going to be a band name, but then I got the idea for this club and it just seemed right.”
James Gonzalez is an Animation major. He comes to Drawing on Trees to gain exposure to other art forms. “We get sectioned off in our classes by different forms of artwork,” he says. “This club binds the different art forms together.”
Romario Powell spends his class time working on computers, mastering audio and making beats. “Different majors have different skills,” he says as he paints gold Deco Art on top of a stencil. “It’s good to find different outlets and develop skills outside of what we do on a regular basis.”
This is the second painting the group has worked on since they formed at the beginning of the semester. So far, the projects have involved all of the club members working together on one piece. “Musicians collaborate to make music,” says Narhuminti. “This is just like that, but instead it’s artists making one painting.”
The group is still small, but this does not keep those who attend from enjoying themselves. Dipping a paintbrush in a can of glaze and twisting it in circles on a canvas is a welcome release during a week of churning out midterm essays. It allows the mind and body to express itself in ways that words cannot communicate.
“You should try standing up,” says Narhuminti, demonstrating. She makes broad arcs with her arm. “If you stand up, you can put more gesture into your painting.”
Future group projects include a day where students make their own t-shirts. Narhuminti sports a pink t-shirt of her own creation. The Drawing on Trees logo graces the front and cut-out holes line the back. After the O’Shaughnessy piece, the plan is to paint a mural on the wall lining the sidewalk next to Kennedy Hall. The work will be split into six or seven sections so that several people can work on it at the same time. Drawing on Trees meets every Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of Alexis Hall.