Drawing inspiration

The way I feel about the Big Draw is sort of the way I felt about The New Kids on The Block circa 1989.  Well, minus the school-girl crushes.  Just like the 8-year-old me prepared for stardom by practicing the dance moves to You Got The Right Stuff in front of my bedroom mirror, the 25-year-old me prepared for an art education career by envisioning taking part in events like the Big Draw.  So when I started working at PEM, you can imagine how excited I was when they welcomed this vision.

Not only did PEM run a Big Draw event in October 2013, but we won the Trailblazer Drawing Inspiration Award, one of three given out by the Campaign for Drawing.  The award recognizes “Inspirational organizers and their boundless energy and willingness to push the boundaries of their organization.”  And to make matters even more exciting, I was able to travel to London and attend the award ceremony on April 28th with Juliette Fritsch, PEM’s chief of education and interpretation.

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Katie Theodoros and Juliette Fritsch at Big Draw Awards Ceremony, Painter’s Hall, London.
Photo Credit: Eliza Power

Why am I so excited about the Big Draw?  Drawing has always been a big part of my life. I’m good at it. (Just to balance out that statement, I want to point out that there are many many things that I am not good at.)  For instance, I could never (and still can’t) remember my times tables, or spell most words correctly or sit still in a classroom for more than two minutes. But ask me to draw a something line for line, to record my thoughts abstractly with colored pencils and sit completely focused in the art studio for hours at a time…no problem.


PEM’s special concoction of sidewalk paint was a popular activity. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM

The Big Draw isn’t necessarily for drawing enthusiasts like me.  It’s for people who don’t draw, or who think they can’t draw, and it’s to overturn the notion that there is a “right way” to draw.  The simplicity of The Campaign for Drawing is alluring; it is to get everyone drawing.  They have managed to build a huge international following based on that, with hundreds of thousands of people taking part each year, many of whom, at some point in their lives have probably said “I can’t draw.”


PEM guests immersed in our Zentangle activity run by artist Aimee Michaels. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM

Drawing is often overlooked, sometimes looked-down upon, however, its importance is widespread and the evidence is everywhere.  The chair you are sitting on, the clothes you’re wearing, the building that surrounds you, the computer you’re using, they all began with sketches and drawings by designers, architects and engineers.  So I say, it’s time we all start drawing, to help us understand the world around us, to bring us together and share something we can all do.


Emily Larsen, production designer at PEM, starts to draw a crowd with her large mural featured at the main entrance on Big Draw weekend. Photo by Allison White/PEM

We are gearing up for 2014 Big Draw at PEM on October 11th.  The buzz has already started to move through PEM.  This is certainly going to be a team effort.  Many staff love the concept and are jumping on board to help out.   I hope this excitement spreads to our community in Salem and its many visitors during the month of October and I hope to see everyone drawing!


Photo by Allison White/PEM


Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM


Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM


  1. Liz says:

    What an inspirational idea and congratulations on your award! I think that as we get older, we as a society don’t take as much of a risk in doing things we aren’t used to doing and therefore we label them as “things we aren’t good at”. When people are moved out of their comfort zone and allowed to let loose their creative inhibitions, they find that there are many things that they are good at. I recently discovered this and developed a love of painting that I never knew I had thanks to a few glasses of wine, comradery and a paint brush. I think programs like these help our communities by kindling that little spark we never knew existed. Keep up the good work!

  2. Katie Theodoros says:

    Well put Liz, thanks for sharing! Adults can learn a thing or two about creativity from kids. Sometimes it takes a little encouragement from our friends or maybe a few glasses of wine, but exercising our minds is so important and art is a great way to do that.

  3. James Eric Rogers says:

    Yes! Let’s get the “buzz” buzzing!! Congratulations!!!

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