Charity Lynn Baker is an artist living and working in New York. She’s been drawing a lot lately. Her dream-like narrative scenes sometimes remind me of Marc Chagall’s, only Charity’s are more grounded. Formally trained in architecture, when asked about her compositions, she remarked that she likes humans and she likes geometry. Her drawings are thoughtfully constructed, both imaginative and solid. Thanks to online classes, Charity is one of four instructors we have brought in from the New York Studio School, an art school with a proud tradition in modern approaches to drawing, painting, and sculpture. People from NYSS talk about things like mark making, activating the spaces around the forms, and pathways through the rectangle. They have been opening me up to new ways of making art. (For this drawing, Charity said the model posed herself with a mannequin head. This made her laugh, and she liked the drawing that came from it.) Charity started teaching at the NYSS after graduating with her MFA in 2019, and started teaching at the League in 2020. I send students to her classes to learn how to make strong compositions without feeling like they need to learn rules and expectations of realism to make observation based drawings and paintings. One of the artists I sent to take Charity’s Narrative Portraits and Imagination and Observation classes shared how she is able to teach drawing with imagination in such a solid, felt, and grounded way: “Each week, Charity creates a focal point of study such as transcription of ancient sculptures, drawing weight and volume, capturing movement of dancers, or putting the figure in space by studying the surroundings. She also shares influential artwork made by women, many of whom I had not seen before. I have learned a lot.” – Wendy Lumsdaine I asked Charity about her work. How big are your drawings? C: Most of my drawings tend to be 5, 6, 7…even 8 feet tall. Life size or larger. I also make small drawings continuously in my notebooks. How do you approach your work? C: I work from life, from artwork, from my imagination and memory. Life is still the most exciting and yields the best discoveries. How long do you tend to work on your drawings? C: I can spend several days on a drawing of any size, even very small ones. Sometimes though even a one second thumbnail sketch can lead to a larger work that takes me months. What materials did you like to draw with? C: I use black and white acrylic paint to draw with lately and ballpoint pen, but typically charcoal, pencil, felt tip pen, ink and brush as well. Why do you like making drawings? C: Drawing is the biggest thrill for me, the materials set up limitations which lead to innovation. I tend to work fast, however with time they form into something quite solid. What ways of thinking do you hope your students learn from you? C: I want to teach my students how to see. I want to encourage curiosity, and discuss both fundamental and magical aspects of drawing. This drawing was from a memory of watching her boyfriend, a metalsmith, at work. Charity ended the little interview with this: “It’s made all the difference this year to be connected to SAL, I’m very grateful.” Charity has made all the difference for us at the League! We are very grateful to have instructors like Charity who open us up to different ways of making our work.