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Essential Brain Skills: Drawing

5 April 2013 One Comment
Essential Brain Skills: Drawing

I love-hate drawing. Growing up my brother was always drawing and was really good at it. He used to draw massive murals of dinosaurs on old wallpaper rolls my father brought home. Imagine huge, 40-50 foot long rolls of paper with a single coherent scene of a pre-historic world.

My brother also used to buy the excellent comic “2000AD” which had the amazing art of Carlos Ezquerra, Mike McMahon and many others. For a simple cheap magazine this thing really packed a punch in terms of the high quality line art and story telling.

I was occasionally allowed to read the precious “progs” as long as I did so with clean hands and never ever ever creased the pages. This was most important. As it turned out it made a lot of sense as this collection has lasted over 30 years in the cupboard. My favourite strips were Judge Dredd – the Cursed Earth, Strontium Dog and probably Slaine. Anything involving good line art or of course “Judge Death”.

I have a distinct memory of waking up one night and grabbing a sheet of paper and trying to draw a scene from that comic. It sucked but it was my first memory of really visualizing a scene trying to put that down on paper.

Then I discovered Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein and that rocked my world. If you ever find a copy of this book, buy it. It’s epic.

Since my teenage years I haven’t drawn much but with kids I’ve tried to draw just to give them a good example. Lately I’ve been trying to get better. I mostly copy from artists and try to re-create their styles. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Most people will tell you they cannot draw. This is not true. Everyone can draw. Whether or not you can draw what you see in your mind requires practice and an awareness and the willingness to go back and look where you went wrong. And….not much else. Just practice.

This is why I like drawing. It activates spatial parts of my brain that I otherwise imagine I don’t use. It requires you to really LOOK at what you’re looking at. Not just look and get an idea but look and see and get an accurate measure of the relationship of one thing to the other. In order to learn how to draw you must first learn how to see (what sensei said that? )

So this is why I like Drawing. Like I like playing guitar, or running, or building furniture or doing soldering etc. You can’t build something if you cannot visualise it. If you want to get good at building things, you’d better get good at visualization. Drawing means you have to visualize. It demands you exercise certain muscles, different parts of your brain and that can only be a good thing.

I hate drawing for the same reasons. But it’s a lesser hate. And I will always draw.

One Comment »

  • Jim Shanahan said:

    Hi Fran, I like the last drawing a lot! Glad to read your thoughts on drawing…here is an excerpt from my blog. You can read more there.

    The one thing I do remember about all the drawing I did is that I was always interested in attempting something I felt sure I would not be able to draw. If anything, most of the time I was really sure I wouldn’t be able to draw it. Usually the result was I didn’t get it right but what I did find was I was able to see what was wrong. From this I learnt and the next time I improved at drawing a similar object. This was the way I remember learning.


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