Staring at a blank piece of paper, Jennifer Gilla Cutshall made her first mark: a black line. Then she pulled the pen away from the page, tracing above it shapes only she could see. The pen touched the paper once more and soon the image of an empress emerged. Dark inky circles dripped from the figure’s haunted eyes.

“They’re monsters because it’s the Monster Drawing Rally, and my hand is probably shaky during it,” she laughed. “But they’re actually women who rule the world.”

Cutshall was a returning featured artist at the Portland Art Museum’s fifth annual Monster Drawing Rally on Saturday, July 12, 2019. With hundreds gathering to participate, the museum’s courtyard was overflowing with more than just art on this sunny summer evening.

The event began with a round dedicated to showcasing young artists, followed by three one-hour rounds, each featuring about 25 local artists creating their own Frankenstein. Audiences surrounded the workstations as creators like Cutshall turned blank pages into monster-themed works of art.

As a self-described, “intuitive artist trusting the process,” Cutshall gravitates toward the event for its energy, creative freedom and audience interaction. 

Jennifer Gilla Cutshall, owner  of  Verum Ultimum Art Gallery, works on her art work in front of a live audience at the Monster Drawing Rally. 

Jennifer Gilla Cutshall, owner  of  Verum Ultimum Art Gallery, works on her art work in front of a live audience at the Monster Drawing Rally. 

Cheyenne Thorpe /OPB

With the timer counting down, she flew through pages — finishing one drawing after the other.

“If you know they don’t have to be perfect, it’s this permission to move through the process and find somebody within the sketch,” she said. In between swift line work and painted brush strokes, Cutshall took brief moments to study her surrounding audience, adding their characteristics to her “monsters.” 

Glasses on a woman walking by, strands of curly hair from the child peeking her nose above her table: Cutshall said she wants to enjoy the beauty of everybody in her work.

Hundreds gather at the Portland Art Museum courtyard to watch featured local artists create monster-themed works of art at the Monster Drawing Rally.

Hundreds gather at the Portland Art Museum courtyard to watch featured local artists create monster-themed works of art at the Monster Drawing Rally.

Cheyenne Thorpe /OPB

Through the surrounding buzz of the audience, the emcee announced time was running out. An audience member snapped a picture of Cutshall’s creations. 

“Your art is going fast up there!” the photographer said. Every time an artist finished a piece, the work immediately went up for sale with a flat price of $35. The proceeds collected from the fundraising event directly supported the museum’s youth programs. 

“People were so excited to see the immediacy of the process,” Cutshall said. “That’s what they love about walking around and seeing all the different styles. It’s a peek inside the artist’s studio and their temperament.”