Robert Reed Drawing Workshops

Posted by on Dec 22, 2018 in Blog, News, Process | No Comments
Robert Reed Drawing Workshops

Join Betsy for Divinatory Altars, her offering at

the Robert Reed Drawing Workshops at Penn State!

Friday February 22 at 2pm

Saturday February 23 at 2pm

Registration is free.

Registration deadline: January 1, 2019, but there are still spaces available.

Register here.

It is my honor to be offering workshops in memory of one of the greatest professors I had while I was an undergraduate at Yale: Robert Reed. He did things that blew my mind, such as assign homework assignments of 50 18×24″ drawings to be made on cardboard at a park that was a 45-minute walk from campus. He delivered this news casually. I remember stuttering, “Did you say 50? As in, 49 plus 1?”

He made a big influence on me and now I have the opportunity to share my own teaching, which is inextricably linked to what I learned from him.

There will be lectures and discussion panels open to all.

The workshops are primarily geared towards college-level art and design students, but we welcome participants with other levels of experience. 

Divinatory Altars

The goal of this workshop is to explore the outer reaches of the definitions of drawing, as well as the connections between contemplative practice and studio practice. Because of the nature of
the sharing amongst students, the personal nature of the approach, and the connection to
nature, this workshop consistently has the effect of bonding the group to each other.

Description of Investigation

Divination Altars draws inspiration from the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina or
Sacred Reading, where monks study sacred texts, as well as from the work of earth artists such
as Andy Goldsworthy or Day Scheldkrit. This workshop approaches the natural world as a
source of wisdom, a sort of sacred text in itself, and provides a structure that guides students to
slow down and tune into the natural world.

This workshop follows the Way of the Artmonk, a 4-phase approach that links mindfulness &
embodiment practices with creative practice. The four phases are attune, welcome, respond,
and offer.


Still the bodymind. Allow connection with the source to arise (whatever that source may be).


Receive everything that comes. No judgement. Amass material.


Apply the appropriate tool. Reflect and refine.


Share the work. Connect with the world.

The hub that keeps the wheel turning: PRACTICE – Sharpen your skills. Repeat regularly.

In this workshop we begin by attuning to a question that is near to our hearts. This question
could be something about the student’s creative practice, a block they are experiencing or an
unresolved issue in their work. We then welcome nature’s wisdom, collecting natural materials
in the area. In the third phase the students respond by arranging the materials they gathered
into drawings built of found natural objects, into shapes, patterns, or installations. Finally, the
workshop culminates in offering: students divide into groups and visit each other’s drawings.
Without knowing the question each maker was holding as they built their installation, the
others will offer reflections of what they see in the earth drawing. These reflections, offered in
both written and spoken form, are the divination, the response to the maker’s question.

Relationship to Robert Reed’s Teaching

This approach finds inspiration in the classic Reed assignment of building a dinosaur out of
found materials and then using those dinosaurs as models for drawing. Combining Reed’s
freestyle approach of pressing the student to with inspiration from eastern and western
monastic philosophies. Reed’s influence is also expressed in the rigor of practice, the approach
of blasting your way to inspiration by making making making.

What to Bring

The materials required for the outdoor version are for each student to bring a tote bag, clippers or scissors, and warm clothes for being outside for up to 2 hours.

Friday February 22 at 2pm

Saturday February 23 at 2pm

Registration is free.

Registration deadline: January 1, 2019.

Register here.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.