On drawing and the working of the mind.

Posted on November 23, 2012


Reading John Berger, I recognized that what I value (what I have always valued as a teacher) is cultivating awareness of how the mind works–how ideas accumulate, develop, how they change, how they become formalized, and how we transform ideas into action. Also the metaphors we use to talk about our mental processes (“develop” “emerge” “arrive” and any of the other tells revealed by our verbal habits). So I’ll just dive-bomb and leave this excerpt from Berger’s masterful book, Bento’s Sketchbook, which has left me thinking for days and days and days.

At a certain moment, if you don’t decide to abandon a drawing in order to begin another, the looking involved in what you are measuring and summoning up changes.At first you question the model (the seven irises) in order to discover lines, shapes, tones that you can trace on the paper. The drawing accumulates the answers. Also, of course, it accumulates corrections, after further quesioning of the first answers. Drawing is correcting….At a certain moment–if you’re lucky–the accumulation becomes an image–that’s to say it stops being a heap of signs and becomes a presence. Uncouth, but a presence. This is when your looking changes. You start questioning the presence as much as the model.How is it asking to be altered so as to become less uncouth? You stare at the drawing and repeatedly glance at the seven irises to look, not at their structure this time, but at what is radiating from them, at their energy. How do they interact with the air around them, with the sunshine, with the warmth reflected off the wall of the house? Drawing now involves subtracting as much as adding. It involves the paper as much as the forms drawn on it.