Above: Charcoal drawing interpreting the emotional experience of Paragliding
Mostly everything that has ever been made started with a drawing.
Yet drawing often seems like the poor cousin of painting. Even for me - with my background as an industrial designer: I've not always given drawing the respect that it deserves. In the past I've seen drawing as a ‘separate’ activity, one that was beneficial and worthwhile, but as an activity that didn't impact the rest of my art practice.
More recently I've been reflecting on the benefit of drawing on my wider art practice. I've found there are 4 key benefits:
1. Getting into creative flow:
In most aspects of my day to day life I operate in ‘head’ mode: making logical and rational decisions that often require analytical and academic thought. Often, I find it hard to switch from ‘head’ mode to ‘creative’ mode. Drawing fast-tracks the transition: the concentration and focus needed to translate my observations into form quickly helps me alter my natural state and frees up creative expression.
2 . Building observational skills:
Building my observational skills is a cornerstone of my developing art practice. Drawing helps me to observe and question the world around me and translate my observations into the creation of something that represents my personal interpretation. Observing what works well compositionally helps me gain an intuitive feel for proportions and space as well as layers and depth, within the context of a decided boundary. Being a naturally visual and tactile person observation comes in many forms and using various senses, including sight, sound and touch.
3. Practicing patience:
I am not naturally a patient person. In the context of a society where everything is immediate and on-demand drawing helps me to work on this life skill that is often forgotten or undervalued. For me, patience takes many forms: short-term patience means being at ease through all aspects of immediate creation. Longer-term, strategic patience requires feeling at ease with my individual and changing learning journey, being open to learning what I don’t know and embracing the period of time and ambiguity that comes when ideas and concepts are naturally percolating. Finally drawing reminds me of the need to acknowledge that if I continue to work on my practice the answers will likely come after a period of time.
4. Building confidence in mark making:
I often draw with a permanent marker - this helps me to get into a difference state of creative flow: one where I have to get to a point of feeling confident about the lines and marks I am about to make. I find this approach helps me experiment and explore various forms of drawing, fail fast and learn from those failures, helping to more quickly build my confidence over time.