July 2015 Professional development course
For me, drawing has been a kind of special magic superpower. Drawing was my way of sorting out what I did and did not think and what I knew and did not know, it has functioned as my most reliable method for sharing my thoughts as well as showing others that I thought at all. You see, throughout my childhood and adolescence (and even as an adult after if it’s after 9 p.m.) words rarely worked for me. My dyslexic brain, bends, breaks, and bewilders my attempts to record in writing my ideas, insights and understanding. It confounds my efforts to and read the writings of others. When I couldn’t keep the letters of the alphabet from rotating, stepping out of line and jumping place mid-word, I would call upon drawing (my special magic super power) and my hand and brain would instantly become consummate collaborators, I would be able to place my thoughts on the page with remarkably lucid ease. When I needed it to, drawing would replace reading and writing as an effective, efficient, and remarkably elastic method for developing ideas, representing understanding, and structuring systems to solve complex problems.
The superpower magic of drawing evolved into more of an essential competency as I learned to deliberately use it with increasing efficiency and skill. As an artist and educator I became more overtly conscious of how and when and how to employ drawing as a tool. Because drawing is such a reliable and remarkable resource for me, I have often encouraged students (regardless of their chosen media) to draw, as a way to consider situations, choose and describe process, pose and solve problems, and, of course. express themselves effectively. For some, the impact is immediate. For others, practice provides a new methodology for them to access from time to time. The Thinking through Drawing workshops expand my consciousness and understanding of the connections between, cognition, physiology, neurology and drawing; providing a scientific and logical basis for continuing to teach drawing methodologies that, simply (or perhaps complexly) work.
As a participant in the Thinking Through Drawing workshops, we applied the practice of drawing through well-guided exercises through which the instructors (Dr. Angela Brew and Dr. Michelle Fava) brilliantly and fluidly extract, isolate, reinterpret and repurpose elements of familiar drawing practice into thoughtful lesson plans. These exercises reveal the very deliberate ways particular methods of drawing engage/inspire very specific cognitive processes. In addition to such participative learning processes, the instructors introduced students to the principles, theories and research that inform the present understanding of drawing and cognition. The extensive an exciting and extensive reading and resource list prepared by the instructors was made available to those who were interested in learning more (which included every single participant). The immediately preceding parenthetical leads me to the my final important accolade of this testimonial. I must express how impressive and incredible it was to practice, learn and think about drawing with such an exceptional group of peers. My fellow classmates were composers, physicists, architectural historians, educators, art therapists and artists. Each of us came to the course with our own, unique ways and reasons for using drawing. The Thinking through Drawing curriculum asked us to collaborate immediately. We came to realize that our shared insights into the power of drawing allowed us to reveal new dimensions of the process and new depth to the tool. The Superpower expanded, the understanding grew and the magic was shared . . . which is, of course, as it should be.