I just read an article about how the training of physicians is beginning to include required courses in drawing- the reasoning being that drawing so increases the powers of observation as well as empathy, concentration and the ability to be flexible in thinking.
Really looking at a subject is required to draw it; preconceived thinking about a subject can cause you to ignore what is actually before your eyes.
“The whole of medicine is observation…if you have to draw something you see it differently. The thing I know for sure is that if I haven’t drawn something, I haven’t really seen it. “l
Leonardo da Vinchi learned much about human anatomy- he learned it by drawing it. And he was a genius!
Little children gain control over their scribbles and immediately start to draw their world. Funny drawings with funny names ensue, great exaggerations of parts, x-ray versions of the insides of things, but they know what they are drawing.
At some point a certain accepted version of a subject is agreed on by consensus and all must be done in that one rigid way. A safe way to convey a tree, a flower, a stick man. Always done the same, safe. You have all seen them, they look like this.
-This way of drawing is a stage in the development of children’s artwork. It is pretty universal, and labeled the Schematic Stage by art educators.
I remember being in kindergarten and seeing all my friends drawing tulips like this- while I was trying to draw them differently. The other kids told me my drawings were wrong. I went home that day and really looked at the garden tulips, saw how the petals came together at the base, counted the petals, then drew them the way they were.
The other kids told me I was still doing it wrong- but I did it anyway because I knew it was Right!
Unfortunately for some, they do not learn to look closer, and remain at this stage of artistic development. I have heard many times from adult friends, the best they can draw is a stick figure.
As an artist and an art teacher, I would tend to disagree- they most certainly could learn to draw more detailed images. They simply do not wish to learn, or they are afraid of ridicule for their efforts. And that’s fine.
But if drawing and observing increases the powers of understanding, broadens your comprehension, allows you enhanced views of your surroundings and flexible passages in your brain, perhaps some passages in your brain are never trained or developed if you do not learn to draw.
Studying figure drawing in a couple of classes in college, I was assigned drawing five detailed studies a week. The more I drew, the more I learned.
my sister sleeping during a car trip
doodles in my notebook
Last year I came across an old family photo. I was compelled to draw this image of my grandfather as a young man. He was working on his farm, and appears to be taking a break. As I drew I learned about his time, felt his personality, remembered my time spent with him.
I learned about furrows plowed in a field, how challenging to pull that plow through it, how the horses were muscled. And saw how the others that went after him inherited the bones of his face. My own too.
I often speak to my students of “artist’s eyes”. When they go to paint the tree trunk brown and the leaves green, I tell them to look out the window at a real tree. Is it brown? No. It is sort of grey. We will go outside and pick some leaves, some grass. Is it all green? No.
I tell them to really look, see how flowers are put together, see that the street is not really black at all. And that their blond hair is not yellow, that shadows are not all black either.
Drawing, painting, figuring out the make and meaning, extrapolating ideas for your own artworks from what you have learned- I can’t believe this does not make you smarter!
Have a good day- and maybe do a drawing!