Nikki Back's Portfolio

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Limitless Opening and The High Museum February 3, 2010

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This post is going to be one of those all-encompassing posts that should have been written a long time ago.

"Mikhail Baryshnikov" by Robert Weingarten, courtesy of Weston Gallery

My girlfriend, Ashley, and I went to the High Museum on January 23rd (I think!), but we didn’t go to College Night. Tickets were half-priced that morning — and was significantly more empty than it was that night, I’m sure. It was her first visit and I think she really enjoyed it. Robert Weingarten’s digital portraits were really interesting to us; we made a game out of trying to guess the subject first and, after we gave up on that, trying to find all of the objects listed on the sign next to it. It was like those I Spy books that were really popular in my elementary school.

I also really liked John Portman’s exhibit. The stainless steel sculptures were so cool and futuristic and the paintings had wonderfully bright colors. The huge models were so intricate and detailed — one even had multiple kinds of tiny little cars! All in all, it was a wonderful trip to the High.

Playscape Monitors, courtesy of Didi Dunphy

On the 28th, the “LIMITLESS” exhibit opened in the Dalton Gallery. I worked with five other lovely women as a Playscape Monitor. My duties included telling people to “play nice” and literally lifting small children up and down for minutes on end. The artist, Didi Dunphy, was so sweet! She gave us countless hugs and spent a good ten minutes taking pictures of us and with us.

The see-saws were such a hit. Everyone loved them!


Blind Contour Drawings February 1, 2010

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Blind Contour Still Life
Blind contour of the still life with Sharpie

I really enjoy blind contour drawings; I’ve always found them to be really comforting in their lack of structure and sense of judgment. The freedom that comes with not being able to see what I’m drawing is calming, but still requires an extreme amount of focus.

I’m more than a little guilty of drawing blind contours on my notes in classes that are a little less than captivating. By the time I get to my fourth consecutive class on Mondays and Wednesdays particularly, my brain is bordering on mush. It seems that taking a few moments every now and then to draw the head of the person in front of me re-energizes my focus.
I did switch my medium every now and then. I really liked the Sharpie because I didn’t need to press down hard to get a mark on the page whereas I had to really press down to get a mark with the colored pencil. The charcoal needed more pressure than I was willing to give, it seemed, because my sketches with it were only a slight bit darker than the colored pencil ones.
I found that I really enjoyed drawing the inside of my hand because it allowed me to see lines and wrinkles that I hadn’t really ever examined before. It also seemed comfortable to draw it, almost like speaking with a good friend. The still life was different, though not in a bad way. It was more like getting to know someone for the first time, seeing lines and curves for the first time and realizing that they weren’t always exactly how I expected them to be.
Drawing with my left hand wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. After the first few moments, I realized that I was so focused on the lines of my hand that I wasn’t even aware that I was drawing with my left hand. It was kind of really mind opening and profound in a small way.

Comparison of Chair Drawings January 31, 2010

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Chair drawing in colored pencil

As the caption reads, this is my first chair drawing. The assignment was to use anything we wanted, so I drew it with Prismacolors. I chose colored pencils mostly because they’re bright and partly because I have a lot of them that I never really use anymore. 

 The proportions aren’t really right and the seat is awkwardly shaped, but I do really like the chair. I like it much more than my second chair drawing anyway.   

It kind of reminds me of a log cabin; I think it looks rustic and handmade because the lines aren’t really straight. 

My second chair drawing is messy and much more plain. I always rediscover my bordering-on-ridiculous hatred for charcoal every time I come into contact with the medium. 

I hate how it smears. I hate how it gets all over my hands — and then, of course, ends up on my face or my clothes. I hate how you can’t fully erase for a pretty and pristine picture at the end. 

I liked the string method, though, even if I didn’t really master it. It came in handy with angles and getting sizes right. I used the widest part of the seat as my unit measurement. It got kind of sketchy on some of the smaller parts, like the bottoms of the legs, and I felt like I was just making it up then. However, I do think it’s much more accurate looking than my first chair. At least, I really hope so.

Second chair drawing

Chair drawing in charcoal using the string method


Hello world! January 18, 2010

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Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!