Drawing can be a very direct link between the inner imagination of the mind and the reality of the world. Designers use drawing as a way to quickly develop their ideas visually so that they can see what they imagine and communicate their imagination to others.
Drawing is a system of representation and for a drawing to be read the system needs to be understood. This is a cultural matter and it is interesting to note that there are many drawing systems which we have to learn. For example Ancient Egyptian paintings, with its constant use of human side profiles.
Many drawings try to represent a reality, to be equal to the thing depicted. But drawing is always just itself, any reality is an illusion.
For a very young child, the ability to draw using a system is not formed, but the child can still read into their drawing of marks and see meaning that is not always communicated in a readable way to the viewer. The emotional content might be very readable. Children soon find symbols to represent ideas that can be read by others.
Drawing is at once a form of action and a form of representation.
It is possible to draw abstract marks to represent how you feel. Visual marks on a page can be read in the same way as we can read the subtle fleeting expression in a face or the slight change of tone in a voice.
I believe the focus on drawing as a form of representation, a way of seeing and understanding the world, is a vital skill. But drawing also has an important role in the development of emotional and conceptual thinking. This is underused and should be encouraged.
Do we as a society focus too much on teaching and valuing representational drawing above emotional and conceptual drawing?
Tom McPherson's blog on art and creativity.
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