Why Draw?

In tough times, the first thing to be axed in schools is art. What a mistake! Drawing is the very foundation of visual thinking but we don’t do much to teach kids so most give it up by age ten. Many adults believe they can’t draw a straight line. Nobody can. No special talent is needed to draw—everyone can do it, as all kids do. It’s never too late to begin again and here’s why— Drawing slows us down; it helps us to look with care, understand and appreciate our world. If we draw each other, we soon see that we all have eyes, nose mouth and even the same desires for well-being and happiness. We grow compassion. All of our drawings will be different, it’s true; even if we’re drawing the same thing. Some will be whimsical, some bold, others sensitive, some wildly inventive. These are the innate tendencies or gifts that we actually do have. If we look closely, drawing will show us who we are so we can begin to grow our strengths and offer them up. And it will help us appreciate others. When we draw, we come into a place of detachment, outside of emotion and opinion. This happens naturally and without effort. In this space, we learn to see what’s in front of us with clarity, unclouded by preconceptions. We never know what will happen when we begin a drawing so, in the doing, we get comfortable with uncertainty, without needing to impose a solution. We learn patience. But here’s the clincher—drawing teaches us to be the creative people we are at our core. It takes us out of our linear-thinking, verbal left brain and into our imaginative, spatial right brain. We forget everything when we draw and come to a place of one-pointed focus where we more easily access inspiration. As Einstein said, we can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. Problems are created by our over-heated, linear-thinking minds. By drawing, we learn to play, experiment, try different ways of exploring without holding tight to preconceived ideas. It asks us to be open-minded as we try different ways of drawing and encounter our own limitations. We can also see what others are doing and entertain different approaches to our own thinking. We develop critical thinking skills that help us identify harmony and excellence, so necessary in the creative process. All of this comes with practice and the awareness that drawing teaches us. Whether or not we’re artists, we’re all creative. It’s what separates us from monkeys. To a great extent we’re all creating our lives and the world we live in. Drawing has been isolated in schools, an adjunct to education like a useless frill stitched onto a dress. In fact, it ought to be integrated into the very body of the dress and used as a tool to develop observation, insight, detachment and the creativity at the core of each of us. Time to get out our pencils. There’s a better world in our future and I think we might just be able draw it out. ©Cat Bennett2010 [For The Los Angeles Times]

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