Why Do We Draw?

Why do we draw? Let me start off by saying that, for me, drawing stands as synecdoche for all of art. At least the visual arts. I think it is foundational in that it teaches us to see; it teaches us to use our eyes properly. Without drawing there would be no printmaking, painting or sculpture. Simple as that.

So why exactly do we draw? In college I vividly remember standing in my professor’s office around a table with him, another professor and a couple of graduate students where we were discussing something. For the life of me I don’t remember what. But I do remember putting forward this little gem of wisdom: “We all draw in order to learn.” To me this was almost a tautology. Why else would anyone do this? I mean, sure, it’s a lot of fun; it looks cool, and it beats working for a living. But when you get right down to it, we all do this in order to learn about the world. Well, they pounced on me like starving hyenas on a three legged gazelle. It was made clear to me that other people draw for different reasons than learning.

That shadow in the lower right is… ummm.. part of the composition. Of course it’s not lazy photography! How  DARE you?! Real artists don’t cut corners. Philistine. However, as I read the notes I made almost 20 years ago, they sound pretty pretentious. I think I was trying to sound scientific. I was very young, cut me some slack.

I still draw to learn. Even if the learning isn’t always the type of learning I was doing in the drawing above. I still do that type of thing, but my definition of learning about the world has expanded. Now I want to know not just what things look like but I want to know what I think about things.

Two drawings done in chapel. Both have monsters, neither deals with monsters in the text!

Sometimes this leads me into some unexpected territory. Often, I’ll hear or read something and then just start drawing with no idea what will happen next. Images and juxtapositions suggest themselves and I draw them. Often the meaning, or my idea comes after I have had to me to look at and think about what I’ve done.

So, after all these years, I still draw to learn.

0 592
stlukesattic

Leave a Reply