Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Big Draw + Campaign For Drawing

Pic: Brooke Sheridan

   Some intriguing panels have begun popping up at various locations around campus: keep an eye out for a "Community Canvas" and take a minute or two to add a drawing of your own. This is part of a global event called The Big Draw, which is hosted by the Campaign For Drawing. Read more about the local event in this issue of Latitude 65 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (big hat-tip to organizer Brooke Sheridan at UAF's eLearning).
...more below the fold...  


"The Campaign for Drawing has one aim: to get everyone drawing! Drawing helps us to understand the world, think, feel, shape and communicate ideas. It is fun, accessible and invaluable - in education and everyday life." 
   Not having had a clue about the event or anything about the gig or the organization I read up on their history and learned some interesting things about them (along with some invaluable educational ideas like TEA: Thinking, Expression and Action).

   After teaching Beginning Drawing for well over a decade I have a personal penchant for dispelling the many myths surrounding the medium: a big part of the job is predicated on the assumption show anyone can and everyone should draw, and be creative - just create! Not all that much different than cooking or automotive repair, it's a basic skill that can be learned, and enjoyed, and used for a myriad of reasons. It's lamentable that back in the day, everybody was considered a certain, special kind of artist, but now, what with such specialization, an artist is considered a certain, special kind of person. Plus "drawing" itself is at times held in comparative disdain within the Fine Arts, viewed as somewhat of a gateway or mere stepping stone to other, more prestigious and respectable artforms within academia, like painting. As an analogy, a live symphony performing classical music may be one of the apex experiences in music, but more often than not it's equally rewarding and "real" to hang out in a parking lot tailgating with folks at a bluegrass festival. It's all music... it's all good.

   When the question was posed in relation to this event from the newspaper editor "Why should people draw?" this was what I left for a quote: "The urge to use the end of a burnt stick (or in my case, a Sharpie) and leave a mark on a cave wall carries throughout the ages, arguably all the way down to the graffiti on bathroom stalls, defacing classroom desktops and textbooks, and our first instinctual experimentation with crayon on our childhood bedroom walls." The rest of the comment was along the lines of how most weeks I can be seen in many local establishments from cafes to bars bent over a sketchbook: while drawing out in public isn’t so much of a “performing art” and many artists aren’t comfortable on display, demonstrating it dispels the mystery of making art, and points up the accessibility of it for anyone, regardless of age or skill. Plus there are the studies that show the “white noise” of a background in a public place paradoxically improves focus, and it gets you out of the cabin studio, which can help the creative process. 
   Again: It's all good... there are as many different reasons for drawing as there are personal styles. Perhaps the pertinent question from my side of the easel is not so much "why draw" as "why aren't you drawing?" and this Big Draw event is a great opportunity to, well, literally illustrate the objective.
“The Campaign for Drawing was launched in 2000 by the Guild of St George (website here), a small charity, to commemorate its founder, the great Victorian writer, philosopher and artist, John Ruskin. An independent art education charity since 2006, the Campaign still upholds Ruskin's belief that drawing helps us to understand the world and respect it more.
The Campaign for Drawing raises the profile of drawing as a tool for thought, creativity, social and cultural engagement. The Campaign has created a new regard for the power of drawing to help people see, think, invent and take action. [...] Its long-term ambition is to change the way drawing is perceived by educationalists and the public..." 
   Locally - their Google+ Group info is here - there will be a Drawing Jam at the spiffy new digs in the expanded/renovated UAF Wood Center at Arctic Java on Wednesday, October 22nd, from 7 - 9pm. I'll be hanging out doing demos, so stop on by for a cuppa joe and joke.

"Drawing is a means of obtaining and communicating knowledge" - John Ruskin 

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