The Colville Drawing Dice

A drawing game for all ages

Two dice sit on a sea-foam green background. One dice has simple line drawings of a house, a car and a sail boat. The other shows images of a cat, a bird and a dog.

My painting occurs when I think of a way to combine two disparate elements.

—Alex Colville

The Colville Drawing Dice offer a playful new way to connect with the art of Alex Colville. Inspired by recurring motifs in Colville’s paintings and prints, one die focuses on elements of nature and living things, while the other highlights human-made elements.

Together, the dice act as prompts to consider the possible relationships between two very different things, perhaps a bird and bridge, or maybe a cat and a window. Colville’s compositions are carefully constructed and the “disparate elements” he brings together are often reflected in the titles of his works including, Horse and Train (1954), Cyclist and Crow (1981), and Artist and Car (2008).

The Colville Drawing Dice can be used by one player or more. The rules are simple: roll the dice, reveal two elements, draw them together! The details and the setting are up to you. As you draw, you might discover, as Colville did, the extraordinary in the ordinary.

While the dice might spark new subjects for drawings, they also encourage players to look more closely at Alex Colville’s work and the ways that he created tension or connection between elements.

A central black bird, wings outstretched and beak open, flies diagonally towards the viewer through the space underneath a bridge over water.

Alex Colville, Bridge and Raven, 1993, serigraph on paper, Edition of 70, 34 x 48 cm, Collection of the Owens Art Gallery. Gift of Alex Colville in memory of Rhoda Colville. © A.C. Fine Art Inc.

The Owens Art Gallery holds numerous works by Alex Colville (1920-2013), including the painting Seven Crows (1980), the mural Athletes (1961), and the complete set of thirty-five silkscreen prints produced by the artist during his lifetime. The Owens also oversees Colville House, a house museum devoted to the artist’s creative practice that includes an installation of the contents of Colville’s studio as he left it at the time of his death in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Designed by Lucy MacDonald, Curator of Education and Community Outreach, with illustrations by Mount Allison Fine Arts graduate, Jeff Mann (’17), The Colville Drawing Dice are available on any visit to the Owens or Colville House and are currently part of the new exhibition Alex Colville: Throwing Light. We are also pleased to share a downloadable PDF template of the dice that you can print and assemble at home.

How to Assemble Your Dice