Sunday, February 9, 2014

... Who Will Not See (...or can not)

A very interesting perspective on the question of "Can blind people draw" from James Gurney's "Gurney Journey" blog. As of late I’ve been experimenting using a Sennelier India ink that is very thick, and draw my pen & inks on a 500 series of Strathmore Bristol (this as opposed to a usual Higgins brand of ink on a lesser-quality, more absorbent paper), and the resulting lines will dry leaving a noticeably high “ridge” of ink. This tactile experience is a completely different dimension of my drawings, and it might sound a wee bit weird, but I’ve long been fond of running my fingers across the finished panels, and feeling the dried lines of ink as if it were a sort of braille. It's an interesting tactile and mental experiment to try and to wrap my brain, and fingers, around what it would be like to not have a posteriori knowledge (impossible seeing as how I've drawn it) of the depicted forms, and try to translate it mentally, figure out what it is just from touch alone.

The difficulty that Edison, the blind artist in the article and accompanying video, has in re-presenting or rendering a 3-dimensional form onto a 2-dimensional sheet of paper is the fundamental challenge for the majority of my Beginning Drawing students, who, for example, have never tackled linear perspective. Humbling to think of the challenges not having access to sense of sight, above and beyond the normal perceptual hurdles many people experience when re-learning "how to see." That said, I did have the unique opportunity to have a legally blind student once in one of my Cartoon & Comic Art courses, and she did absolutely wonderfully. I'll just have to rethink, if not rename the oft-used class exercise "blind contour."

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