When I drew as a child it was just to illustrate my writing. I wrote books when I was little. With cardboard covers. The writing was what mattered. I didn’t think I could draw but I thought the pages needed some colour.
Some children draw prolifically. They fill scribble pads and cover walls and verandahs and use chalk in the driveway. I didn’t think I could draw. So I didn’t.
And Drawing can be one of those things we grow out of. As soon as we become self-conscious and decide our drawing is not as good as other people’s drawing. Or our drawing doesn’t look like the thing it was supposed to look like.
We all learn handwriting in the same way. We have lines in our books and we copy and learn about shapes and directions of lines. But our handwriting all turns out differently. We learn the rules then we make it our own.
Why can’t we see drawing the same way?
Amandine Thomas is an illustrator. She is also passionate about getting grown ups to rediscover the joy and freedom of expression of art.
In a one-off workshop, she led us through a series of exercises that allowed us to unlock the flow and just draw.
About thirty people sat around the huge trestle table with silver birch legs and covered with rolls of blank paper in the White House in St Kilda. We drew portraits of the people around us. Firstly with our left hands, then without looking at the paper, but just looking at our subject. Next we used a single line and without lifting the pen from the paper, we transposed what we saw onto the paper in front of us. Then we closed our eyes and drew from memory, trying to be aware of the pen and the space on the paper without looking. Finally we used someone else’s hand and guided the pen over the paper, combining trust and mechanics to create an intimate expression and experience.
After each exercise, we were asked to reflect on what we liked about our drawing and write that next to it. We did a round of the table to see what other people had done. And, like the handwriting, everyone had a different approach and result.
The drawings were quick and intuitive. We were present in the moment. Observing and appreciating without over-thinking.
I thought I couldn’t draw. And I love what I produced.