Many of our longtime students remember the delight of sitting in one of Margaret Davidson’s classes. Her ability to relay complex subjects in a straightforward, comprehendible fashion is unparalleled. She brings the gods to earth and makes them human. Davidson has a comprehensive knowledge of her craft, as reflected in her book on contemporary drawing, entitled, “Contemporary Drawing, Key Concepts and Techniques.”

Margaret Davidson last taught at Gage in 2014—she taught drawing classes on Modernism, aesthetic, and technique—wildly popular classes in their time. If you didn’t study with Davidson during her tenure at Gage but her name is familiar, it’s likely you have run across her work. She drew the maps of “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, the story detailing trials and tribulations of romanticized hermit Chris McCandless. Or, it’s from buttons. Davidson’s oeuvre is replete with buttons, what she refers to as the modern day circle-dot.

Margaret Davidson is coming out of her retirement in beautiful Bow, WA to teach one of the two inaugural Studio Concentrations. We couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to launch this new program, and we know, for many of you, having Margaret Davidson back in the classroom is a fantastic news.

Light and Shadow

Movement, distance, time of day¬in life we read light and shadow constantly and instantly so we can comprehend what we are seeing.

In art, light and shadow are how we show both form and space, and a key way we indicate mood. This most fundamental subject is at the core of all Realism, and is significant to all the rest of art, both by how it is handled; say by Caravaggio or van Gogh, and by how it is deliberately altered by such artists as Monet, Cezanne, or Hockney.

In this intensive study of light and shadow, we will use some basic and simple materials—pencils, colored pencils, and torn paper collage—to focus on how artists in the past have used light and shadow for various purposes, and on how we want to use it now.

You will copy all or parts of some paintings with collage and colored pencils and create original drawings using the light and shadow structure you like best.

Margaret Davidson has a BFA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from the University of Washington. She is both an artist and illustrator, and, until retirement in 2014, taught courses in Beginning Drawing, Sources of Modernism in Drawing, Aesthetics of Drawing,

In scientific illustration Davidson concentrated on archaeological and anthropological subject matter, drawing lithics, pottery, and especially basketry and textiles. To this end she has illustrated various books and journal articles, such as Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit by Sharon Busby (2003 Marquand Books and the University of Washington Press) and The Archaeology of the Yakutat Foreland: a Socioecological View, Volumes I and II, by Stanley Drew Davis (1996). She has also drawn the maps for Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Villard Books, New York, 1996), and Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg (Berkley Books, 2010).

In contemporary art, her focus in her own drawings is on the subtle and reciprocal relationship between the mark and the surface, along with various related dichotomies such as figure and ground, form and space, and illusion and reality. Like amost drawing artists, she works on various European, American, and Asian art papers and then also draws on such materials as wooden sticks, dessicated leaves, and cloth.

Davidson is the author of Contemporary Drawing: Key Concepts and Techniques, published in 2011 by Watson-Guptill, a division of Random House, New York.

Day 1: How light and shadow help define basic forms
Day 2: How light and shadow show opposite forms: concave and convex
Day 3: Moving the light for variation: the first three positions
Day 4: Moving the light for variation: the second three positions
Day 5: Light and shadow at their most intense values: Carravaggio
Day 6: Light and shadow at their most moody: Rembrandt
Day 7: Light and shadow for pure calm: Chardin
Day 8: Color substitution for light and shadow: Monet
Day 9: Color substitution for light and shadow: van Gogh
Day 10: Modern and Contemporary elimination of light and shadow: Morandi, Lichtenstein, Hockney
9:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
Includes guest lecture
Gage Capitol Hill
*Studio time included in price
  • Graphite pencils, 2B, 4B, probably two or three of each
  • All the colored pencils you own. If you are buying new, go for a set of
    24 or more Prismacolors. Please DO NOT BUY pastel pencils or watercolor pencils
  • White plastic eraser and/or an electric eraser
  • Pencil sharpener (the little hand-held ones are great
  • Pad of tracing paper, 9×12
  • Pad of bristol, plate finish, 9×12
  • One piece of foamcore, either 11×15 or 15×22
  • Roll of masking tape