‘Winter Blossom, Botanic Gardens, St. Kilda’ ink & wash

On the importance of drawing:

I agree with the English artist, David Hockney (who was, by the way, a fellow art-student in Sixties’ London) that the loss of an ability to draw is more than just the regrettable passing of a time-honoured tradition. Drawing is the skill that teaches us to engage actively with our visual environment. It is a way of becoming alive to the reality that surrounds us.

Our contemporary society ( and especially its young people) has been made visually passive by the lens-based media. We now have an expectation that the world will come at us actively and engage our attention. In our largely urbanized environments, we only notice what is visually screaming at us in the most aggressive flourescent or neon colours. One of the consequences of this is that we have become chronically de-sensitized visually. And this, I would suggest, is the explanation for the all-pervasive ugliness of modern environments: most of us simply do not notice them visually. Of course this is a vicious circle: the more ugly and aggressive our environments get, the more desensitized we become and therefore the more aggressive our visual environment gets…

But all is not lost. Over the years I have been running my ‘Awakening The Eye’ course, I have been very heartened by the wide variety of people, from artists and teachers to truckies and storemen, who have felt the need to retrieve their ability to SEE the world more clearly, to actively engage with our environment rather than being the passive victim of it. The wonderful paradox of this is that as we engage with our world more through drawing, we simultaneously connect to our own creativity, our own deep natures, more profoundly. Thus the process is beneficial for us all, both outwardly and inwardly.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Not only does it teach you to really see but it helps you to engage with the object you are drawing on a far more intimate level. When I am in the studio drawing time passes and it seems like an eternity but it might only be 2 hours. During those 2 hours however I am in another world, one that is quiet, calm, carefree and meditative. I feel completely refreshed after drawing in the studio to the point where I now cannot go without that time. It is becoming a touchstone for me.

  2. As someone who is just beginning to learn to ‘see’, I find the experience requires my full attention otherwise the ‘seeing’ feels false and I feel disconnected to myself and the world. It is so true Anselm that our environment is filling up with aggressive and violent visions screaming for attention. It becomes hard to know what is real and what isn’t and the desensitization makes robots of us, living but not ‘a-live’, looking but not ‘see-ing’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *