Drawing Lab

| September 13, 2011

One of the things that always comes up when talk turns to the losses we suffer around education—our regrets at being of a certain age without having brought certain things with us—is drawing. (Languages being the other big one.) It has a kind of inevitability, just as a conversation about waning literacy will eventually turn to Shakespeare.

What is it that so many of us regret about drawing? Something so simple that any child can do it but few adults can muster themselves for, we both intuitively know it as a fundamental experience and have difficulty thinking about what it actually is or might do for us. We may easily lose it, somewhere along the line, in the embarrassment of having our judgement outstrip our sense of capability. Or in school’s steady insistence on writing as the privileged mode of mark making.

But we may also lose it, paradoxically, in the technicality of a craft. Drawing becomes a skill, and then, for all our incantations of “drawing on the right side of the brain,” we approach it as a thing to be learned in advance of doing it. You learn to draw so that you can then draw.

And yet there is something about drawing that pulls us. Our sense of a kind of loss of childhood is also a sense of the fundamental suitability of drawing for exploring the deep functions of life. Just as a child will sort out the working principles balance and relationship and action in the sensory soup of apparently free-form childhood movement, drawing promises a place of rigorous play.

This weekend some colleagues and I will be leading a two day intensive “drawing lab” in Brooklyn, in which we immerse ourselves in the working relationships of movement and drawing. Rather than seeing drawing as a kind of visual challenge of distance—how do I represent that thing over there—we will be using an exploration of fundamental movements like rolling to one’s side, breathing, and reaching, to slide us into the kinesthetic experience of drawing. Drawing as moving in relationship to our world.

Relational Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2011

Our working “hypothesis”—it being a lab and all—is something like: if we approach the making of marks from a dynamic place of exploratory movement, we will learn something about the vital connections that run through everything we do.

The lab is open to all, to new and “experienced” drawers alike, and requires only that you be willing to give yourselves over to two days of drawing and moving.

For more information and to sign up.