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This week my creative drawing class is working with distorting a grid to discover how they can create something different and unique. This is done, first by gridding a photograph with equally spaced lines, vertically and horizontally. When they begin on their support paper or canvas, they distort the same number of vertical and horizontal lines as they used on the reference. Their next task is to figure out how to place the image being transposed into their newly created grid spaces. I chose a tiger as my reference and changed my format size to long and narrow. My grid included curved as well as straight lines and my resulting distorted grid drawing looked like this:

The artist can choose to include the grid lines in their final piece or erase them and go with the image. This drawing became this:

And because I could not resist, how about a little “Tiger Rag”?:

Have a great weekend!


  1. This is a great technique, a small yet significant step toward abstraction and freedom to play with reality.

    • You say that so well, Chris, “freedom to play with reality”. I was searching for a way to describe this exercise to my students and that says so much! Thank you!

  2. I have never come across distorting a grid before and now after seeing this, I wonder why I never thought of it before! Leslie, brilliant, as usual! Thanks for sharing the music,, amazing enthusiasm to watch, isnt it?

    • Distorting a grid is fun. If you try it, you will be surprised at all the decisions you get to make in each grid space as you design your image! I could not resist this video, Padmaja. Thanks for the comment and taking time to share a little music. πŸ™‚

  3. I really like the water color tiger. I don’t know how to make my water colors make that great of details like you can.

    • I think you can, Noel. Wait until the paper dries from your first washes and add the details last. I’ll bet that will work for you. Thank you for liking the tiger!

  4. What a cool technique!! Playing with reality in a fun way, it looks like.

    Sorry I haven’t been around much, but you’ve visited my blog, so you know why. been kinda on emergency overload these last 10 days.

    • I know spring is a busy time for you! I am amazed by the efforts needed to keep your beautiful part of the world together, Kate. Thank you for the visit and taking in the tiger! It is a fun thing to play around with.

  5. I would never have even suspected being able to use a technique such as this, Leslie! During art classes in schools, I don’t remember ever being shown we could deviate unless it was to do abstract…what a shame. Man…what you must see when you look at art!!

    • Isn’t this a fun thing, Amy? Everytime I try this, I get so excited about how it might turn out. The more art I take in, the larger my vision becomes. I see that with writers and their stories, also. Thank you, Amy!

  6. I seem to remember you doing this once before with your class. It’s such a cool technique and I like how your tiger came out.

    Thanks for the Liberace link. It made me smile.

  7. to me it seems almost magical Leslie, how lines drawn in distortion can become something so lifelike, and so distinctive but give you a completely differing viewpoint at the same time.
    Just listening to Liberace, sounds like he has the Tiger by The Tail!! πŸ˜€ xPenx
    (my thanks for your wonderful comments, especially on the ‘Her Maj’ post, I have the tissue box here with me now, just been using it again after reading your lovely words !!)

    • Oh what you write is so true. Sometimes we see life in such distortion, don’t we? He definitely had the “Tiger by the Tail”. I just felt like I wanted to share a little glitter and joy with all of you when I posted this. Thanks, Pen! πŸ™‚
      “Her Maj”. I owe you the thanks for that lovely post. I needed to wash my windows (that is what I call crying).

  8. Leslie, You are an inspiration! I am going to try drawing with a distorted grid and painting on Masa paper! Alice (Carol’s sister)

    • Hi Alice! I know who you are! Oh, do try a distorted grid. I can imagine you and Carol having a great time with your creations this way! Especially with what you are lerning in that drawing class. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  9. You have so many things I want to try. This seems to be freeing somehow. I really like the abstract it creates. I love your painting, Leslie!

    • The first time I tried this, I did not get a feeling of being free. That was my own approach as I worried about my choices as I decided how to place my lines for each distorted grid shape. As soon as I allowed myself to have choices and go with the flow, it was one of my favorite things to do for awhile. I re-visit it a lot. It has become more freeing with every one that I attempt. Thanks, Debbie! πŸ™‚

  10. I love how you continually throw new and interesting techniques at us… I’ve always tended to go for as technically correct and realistic as possible, but I now see I need to loosen up and experiment a little.. Thanks …

    • I believe we all begin to acquire our skills through being technically correct. It supplies a wonderful foundation for exploration as we begin to become comfortable with expressing ourselves and, besides, life is just too short to not have fun on our journeys? This exploring keeps it fresh for me. Thanks, Brian! πŸ™‚

  11. This is clever and creative technique!
    Take care

  12. That a very interesting technique.
    Interesting abstract idea.
    And wow, what an accomplished pianist
    I know how difficult that hammering of the key method is.
    You need super fast reflexes. he makes it look very easy

  13. Oh my, this is beautiful-looks like it could be from a children’s storybook. I love the idea of distorted gridlines-this could be really helpful for me to make sure i fit the whole image into my page!

    • You would not have to distort your gridlines if you didn’t want to, Nicola. It does insure you getting the entire image on your page. The distorted ones are more fun, though. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  14. I remember doing grid drawings in school. I’ve never thought of distorting the grid though. What a cool idea, and the result is very unique indeed. I’m loving that tiger!

    • Grid drawings are very helpful for getting things more in proportion if I need that in my final outcome. The eye-opener, for me, with the distorted grid is the freedom and mystery it brings to the experience of creating.. Thank you, Amber!

  15. I even like the sketch! πŸ™‚ But the watercolor is lovely and fun.

    Speaking of fun! How fabulous to post Liberace. I was so in love with him as a kid. I slept – preschool days – with his photo on my nightstand. I loved his brother George as well. They always looked like they were having so much fun. I was allowed to stay up and watch and then went to bed quite content.

    Thanks so much for this so delightful post. I’m charmed.

    • YAY!!!! We watched him too, Jamie! πŸ™‚ You were lucky to have his picture. My sister would have liked that. He was always smiling and was glittery and we loved to dance to his fast paced piano tunes and take in all the beautiful things he surrounded himself with.
      Thank you, Jamie, for sharing your tidbit about Liberace with me. ..and thank you for the comment on my artwork, too.

  16. A very cool and clever technique Leslie! Love how the angle of the tiger makes him appear restless too! Good old Liberace! Great character and entertainer πŸ™‚

    • How did I know you would take in Liberace, Lynda? You are so right in saying, “Good old Liberace!” I had quite forgotten about his wonderful piano playing and while searching for an appropriate rendition of “Tiger Rag” this one leapt off the page. Thank you, Lynda!

  17. This is so cool, Leslie!!!! I remember you doing this a long time ago (was it a dog?) and it was cool then, too. This tiger is really great! The soft colors really make him extra special!!

    • You are so correct. I did a bloodhound, here, also: This is one approach that I choose to re-visit with each new group because so many will be exposed to grids as they continue their journey in art. This offers them yet another way to use one.
      I was more pleased with the results of the tiger as the bloodhound did not get the gross distortion the tiger did. I think it has to do with the exagerrated foreshortening that occurred. Thank you, Beth! πŸ™‚

  18. Hi Leslie, I love your tiger and your technique!! Well done. And thanks for Liberace and Tiger Rag – I really enjoyed that.
    Thank you for always popping in and looking at my work!

    • Hi Jan, Liberace could sure play that song. I enjoy your work. I am amazed what goes into creating digital art. Thank you for the comment on the tiger!

  19. Your tiger is interesting and the technique is wild. Cool piece! The “tiger rag” was a hoot! He was always such a character in addition to being an amazing pianist!

    • Thank you Kathleen!
      Yep. Liberace was that and always with a ” πŸ™‚ “.

  20. I’m not sure which is more distorted the painting or Liberace! LOL
    Very cool technic, although distorted, it comes over beautifully. Wonderful job! But Liberace?

    • It is fun to explore possibilities and come up with things that challenge my viewpoint, me thinks. I long to step outside the box for that is where I truly feel I can explore more about putting the inside of me into my work. So much of what I do is trying to record what I see. Liberace? He was capable of doing that and truly be himself. To me he exemplified joy and he was a fantastic showman with the energy and musical skills to go with it. I strive for that abandon in my work and often fall short. Thanks, Ryan! πŸ™‚

  21. This technique results in very expressive paintings…have your students tried this one yet and did they like it?

    • My students, this session, are working on theirs for the next time we meet. We did this exercise last year and had some real interesting results. One student took a classic painting of a woman with an urn and she became a shapely overweight version of herself. There was one done in graphite that I’ll never forget. It was of an interior and the resulting drawing appeared as though you were looking at the room in a shattered mirror. I believe they like this, Al. There is a lot of chuckling as they try to find a place in their grid for all the shapes from the non-distorted one. Thank you!

  22. I love the end-result tiger.
    I have a bad spatial sense and am a bit dyslexic on measuring and stuff like that so anything to do with perspective or warping via grids always defeats me, but it’s fascinating to look at what others can do with it and you’ve done really well. I look forward to more of these experiments!

    • You might surprise yourself, Val, on the distorted one. There is no right way and the element of choice is inserted, here, because of the distorted line. Thank you for the comment. πŸ™‚

  23. Leslie do you play your pencils and brushes as fast as Libby does that piano?! LOL. Oh wow,now that entertainment in high speed.

    • No, but wish I could play them that fast! He was awesome on that keyboard! πŸ™‚

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