Drawing without Seeing

No, I don't know what it is either.....

No, I don’t know what it is either…..

This week’s challenge in drawing class was to sketch something we couldn’t see. We were each given a shoe box containing an object.  The shoe box had a hole cut in the end, and the only way to find out anything about the object was to stick my hand through the hole and feel it.  The purpose of the exercise was to try to find marks capable of capturing the texture of the thing we could feel but not see.  Every object was an amalgam of unusual things, so while you might be able to guess what one element was, the others would confound you.

I had what felt like a hard metal object wrapped in crepe bandage secured with gaffer tape.  When finally I was allowed to look in the box, it was indeed just exactly that.  Apparently the metal bit was the broken arm of a child’s toy robot.  Given how it felt, I thought it would be shiny, and had failed to achieve that look in my drawing.  However, it turned out, that the metal end was in fact painted black, so by pure cack handedness I had the right look for it.  As I was drawing, I knew I hadn’t got the proportions right, but decided I was allowed that under the heading ‘artistic license’, and if you’re going to keep the subject inside a Clarks’ shoe box what do you expect, but I was surprised at just how squat and square the object was compared to the sketch.

It was interesting listening to my classmates describing what they thought their own objects were, and how they had strived to achieve a representation.  Many expressed the attempt to imagine how light would be reflected off the surface they believed they were feeling in order to capture a sense of both the material and the mass of it.  And how else do we perceive visual images other than through the play of light?

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  1. Rowena, what an interesting exercise. I can imagine that drawing something I couldn’t see would free me up a little, as I had no ‘goal’ or ‘perfection’ that I was aiming for.

    • That’s exactly right Gabriela. It didn’t matter what it looked like, so I couldn’t worry about it and just got on with it!


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