Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why draw?

I know artists who do not draw. They say they don't need to. They say that the advent of photography did away with the need for studying drawing. They say they work abstractly, so have no need to create recognizable images. They say they "can't" draw.  I respectfully disagree on all counts, but I will never convince them, I'm sure. I've tried!

Here are a few of the reasons I think drawing is beneficial.

1. It's fun. Just watch children draw. My five year old granddaughter can spend hours drawing the most magnificent, detailed drawings. She loves being in the flow of creativity and feels such joy and pride. Of course for adults who have attached feelings of inadequacy and expectation and stress to the process it isn't fun. —sigh— There must be a way to get rid of all that baggage and just enjoy the process again.

2. Communication. My Dad was a mechanical engineer, not an artist, but he communicated best with a pad and pencil. He could explain the most complicated machine by making a little drawing of it, but he extended it into explanations of everything. How I wish I had saved some of those little drawings of his.

Haven't we all had that experience of trying to describe some interesting thing we have seen, and when words fail, you grab a scrap of paper and just draw it?

3. Drawing is seeing! To me, this is the most wonderful, mind-expanding function of drawing. We all think we are observant. Some of us are, far more than others, but until you try to accurately draw an object, person, place, you have not fully observed it. Once you have drawn it you will never see it in the same way again.

Here's a little experiment to try:

Imagine some familiar object, that is not currently within your sight. Do you use a teapot or tea kettle? That's a good one. Think about it. DON'T GO LOOK AT IT! Now, try to draw it from memory. Put in as many details as you can. The drawing does not have to be beautiful or artful, just representative.

What are its proportions? Is it taller than it is wide or vice versa? Is there a handle? What is its shape? A lid? Does the lid have a knob? Does it have a spout that is somehow attached to the body? Where does it attach? At what angle does it stick out from the body of the pot? . . .

I drew my clear glass teapot from memory.

Then I went and got the real teapot to compare.

At first glance, I didn't do too badly, in my opinion. But look closer. Proportion is a little off. The real pot is taller than it is wide. The lid is close, but the little crescent cutout for the tea to pour out doesn't exist in the real thing. (This, by the way, is an example of how we draw things using assumptions to fill in the gaps in our memory. Sometimes those assumptions are more assertive than our actual memory) The shape of the pour spout is wrong. The reservoir inside, where you put loose tea is pretty wrong too. Most wrong of all is the handle. I can hardly believe I didn't remember that bold, distinctive handle. It is nearly a perfect half circle and connects rather cleverly to the metal band around the pot.

Try it. How did you do? Could you draw your car from memory? I couldn't. I think I can see it in my mind, but I couldn't begin to bring up details. I don't even know what the hubcaps look like. Does it even have hubcaps? I would know if I had drawn it.

Do you have other reasons for drawing? leave me a comment. Send me your drawing.  Help me out here!

1 comment:

  1. I had similar results with the carafe we use for orange juice every day. Basically correct, but with some distortions. Made me want to sit down and draw it from life to get it right, but I think now that I have done it once and then looked I could do a much better job from memory the second time.

    My mother is an artist and draws beautifully so I was always a bit timid about it. I never felt much confidence until my college drawing class ten years ago, but until recently even with that boost I never did it for my own pleasure. A Joggles watercolor journal class with Jane La Fazio which demanded careful drawing before painting really turned things around for me this spring.