Monday, 29 September 2008


I've made a start on the drawing. For a long time the pad and pencils sat on my desk, eyeing me accusingly. I wanted to do it, but it was one more thing to take up the precious hours in the day. One more ancient fear to face. It was a sort of deadlock, broken by the arrival of the text book that Audrey had recommended, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain. One of the first things to do, said the book, was to draw a few pictures as a reference point, to see how far you progress from this point onwards as you go on with the lessons. In the book were some examples of the self portraits people had done at the start of the five day courses tutored by the author, Betty Edwards, along with the ones they had done at the end. Such as these ones:

I thought that if she could teach someone to make that sort of progress in 5 days, she was probably worth listening to. And so far, so good. I've done the before self portrait (the answer is NO) and a few other little bits and pieces, and learned something profound. Drawing isn't really about hand skills. It's about seeing. I was asked to draw the corner of a room, so I chose an easy one: my study. The corner has a bookshelf and a cabinet. It's all straight lines and right angles, easy peasy. Easy that is until I tried to actually draw books on a shelf. The way shapes relate to each other. The way lines form angles to one another. The way light falls. Once I saw it, getting it onto paper was OK, really. Well sort of. It was seeing it that was hard; learning to turn off half a century of glosses and approximations that my mind used to save the energy of actually seeing how it all worked. It's like developing a photographic eye but only more so. So I'll continue. Partly because it 's a contemplative exercise and a philosophical reminder of the falsity of perception. Mostly because it's fun


Katherine said...

Great! Yes, a way of looking... That's what I always say. And a way of turning off the interpretive parts of your brain that says things like 'this cup is round' and just drawing what you see, ie, the cup is an ellipse.

Katherine said...

A request: Kelvin, may I copy your copyright statement? (heh) I have recently thought that I should like to protect the hard work I do in taking my photos and writing my posts... Do you mind? Obviously I'd take YOUR name out and put in mine :-)

VenDr said...

By all means. Just so long as you add underneath: This copyright statement is (c) Kelvin Wright 2008 and is protected by US patent #237582300477583 and the international intellectual property rights convention of the European Economic Community. You will, of course have to submit, in triplicate, an application on the usual form (obtainable by presenting yourself in person, with CV,to our copyright notice application committee at their usual meeting place - a schedule of meetings is available on the noticeboard in the main foyer of my blog building.)Just looking at the folder of applications, and judging that we can deal with a few dozen per meeting, I'd say we should have a response by, oh.... let's say ... February. 2010.

And then there's the small matter of fees....

In the meantime, I give you interim permission.

Katherine said...

Prolonged laughter ending with unladylike snorts and hiccups.

Kathryn said...

Hi Kelvin,
It's wonderful that you are finding the drawing fun, even though you are taking it so seriously!
I think you are the sort of person that if you are going to do something, you are going to do it well, and I applaud you.
I look forward to seeing some of your drawings in, what was it..... yes that's right, 5 days. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ann Lamott, on patterns of seeing - and breaking those patterns that we might see what is really there in front of us, quotes a priest friend of hers "Sometimes I think heaven is a new pair of glasses."
and, further on, acknowledging - for the first time in twenty years - how much she misses seeing her father - Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird", which your readers can find at
in particular
"I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after."
When we look at something, or someone, how much of what we see is perceived by choice, and what is habit - or forced upon us - consciously or subconsciously?
What causes us to break that pattern?