9 May 2012

Drawing Without words  my  Post Graduate Forum talk

Making some recent drawings, I had to remind myself to study the object but look without recognition, to let go of any expectations of how it might look and just observe it as it really is. So to quieten the inner narrative I deliberately cut out thoughts of knowing what it is or looks like because that reading will lead the drawing and it will then look like the thing I expect to see.

 Thought and language is not the same thing”
Professor Nancy Kanwisher.  From the Institute for Brain Research, in Massachusetts:

Kanwisher uses the metaphor of the brain as a “Swiss Army knife” containing a lot of different tools rather than a single all purpose tool.

Specialised regions for specific cognitive tasks have been discovered for the perception of faces, bodies, words and an area that specializes in processing places.

Recognition has no words it is wired straight to those brain hot spots.

Observation over a prior knowledge remains important to visual understanding and communication. A viewer will recognise an experience before being aware of what the actual event is, this instant interpretation is used continuously and reflects our inbuilt knowledge as we glimpse fragments throughout our everyday life.
 It is our brains that do the hard work to complete partial information and understand the things around us without us ever recognising this process.

Unconsciously working hard to complete the unfinished or ambiguous image, the brain is always searching for recognisable qualities. It’s how our brain sees everything, only later adding our knowledge, experience, memory and culture.

In the glimpse there is ambiguity and smudginess as opposed to the drier accuracy at the other end of the scale of the unambiguous, academic or technical drawing discipline.
The connections between seeing and drawing can become a constituent of an abstract image.

In “Great Drawings of the world “ the author, Una Johnson says:

drawings are the result of the artists efforts to organise a vision whether it is visible or invisible to the naked eye, into a structural whole
This requires the ability to select and emphasise differing elements and eliminate inconsequential details”.

I use observation to understand visually not literally, looking for the differences between things, together with qualities like density and space that can inform an abstract drawing.

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