Monday, May 17, 2010

Learning to Draw

It Takes As Long As It Takes

Draw yourself. How long did it take? Were you the first one done? It seems only natural to try and do things quickly, in a timely fashion. In most cases we like to be the first one done. It seems important. Speed matters. It means survival.

It is not uncommon to take five minutes or less to do a self-portrait. We did it. It is done, lets move on to the next thing. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Get on with it, get down to work.

Why? What is happening here?

When you do it quickly you use symbolism. The left, dominate side of the brain, the verbal side, quickly jots down the learned symbolism for “You”. This quick sketch is how that part of the brain “sees” you. It has identified and stored a “You”. It has stored this “image” these symbols to identify you. This is necessary for it to make sense of the idea of “you”. This ability to make sense quickly is necessary for us to understand speech and to read.

Speed is necessary for understanding. If we slow way down, sounding out each letter, the words do not make sense. They become random mouth sounds. Not words and not communication. For them to have meaning, they need to be “spoken” at speed, put together to become words and sentences not just individual sounds.

Drawing, however, has it own speed and needs. Too fast, and the “letters” of drawing do not make sense, and it is like playing a song at the wrong speed, it zips by and does not make sense. We need to slow down to understand it, to make the connection between what we envision and what we put down on paper.

In art, speed can be the enemy of success. It takes as long as it takes.

The left side of the brain drew this picture, and frankly it isn’t any good at it. It is good at making quick judgments, cataloging things and making them orderly. It is usually the dominant side and it is, frankly, a bit of a bully. It is the speed demon and the part that reads and writes but it is not creative. The left side of the brain never invented anything, not even speech. But it is very good at appropriating that which the right side invents and call it its own.

Now, look at your drawing of you. Look at the elements, the symbols for face, eye, nose and other parts of the face. These are recognizable symbols, but really only represent what a face any face is. These are a form of writing, and we want to draw.

So lets step back and rethink this. Let us let the right side of the brain in here, the analytical side, the inventive, creative side.

First lets look at the shape of the head. Is your head really shaped this way? Is any head? Or is it the symbol for head? How is a real head shaped, or more importantly, how is your head shaped? Look at the elements of the face. Where are they placed? Where should they be placed? This kind of reasoning takes time and observation, something the left side of the brain does not think it has, and it will try to push the right side around and force its way on it.

So we must find ways to stop this.
Relaxation is very important to drawing well. To totally realign our thinking so we can draw.
It takes as long as it takes

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