June 3, 2007
The single most important thing I’d like my 10 year old drawing student to learn is to truly ‘see’ – not what you think you know is there, but what is in front of you.
Unless you have drawn before, you cannot imagine how much trust this takes; your head tells you one thing and your eyes tell you another. And we are trained to listen to our head.
E knows how to draw well-proportioned horses from memory, mostly pictured from the side. But ultimately this is just a formula that can only be applied to certain situations. When confronted with a real live horse, let’s say lying down, foreshortened and distorted, that knowledge is no longer useful.
She has to start from scratch and learn to see the strange shapes and their negative counterparts (ie. the space around and between the shapes), and no matter how weird they look, she needs to replicate them on her paper.
Once she learns this principle she will be able to draw anything.
People who draw well have a lot of experience in ignoring the rational part of the brain which tells them they already know what a hand looks like. They look at the surface of the palm as if it were the landscape of a new planet and they record the strange wonders they discover there.
Once again this can be applied to daily life. We fall into habits and stop looking and learning. Our worlds become routine and boring. If we took this same attitude into our lives and looked at things freshly and allowed them to communicate with us we’d always be making discoveries.
The art of drawing starts out from a state of ‘not knowing’.
That is why I think it isn’t such a big jump from drawing well to dementia care.
More on that later!