A writeup of the microteaching session:
This is about looking through drawing, and using drawing to record visual information. It is not about drawing as picture-making. It isn’t about style, quality or skill. Drawings will be neither good nor bad, they will simply record. The idea is to gain some understanding of the physical qualities, structure and workings of something by an intense period of focused looking.
Each task should take roughly one minute.
Using the object as your subject:
- Quickly write down your initial thoughts about it, in just a few words. You could describe the material, shape, form or something it reminds you of.
- Draw the object without looking at your hand or the sheet of paper.
- Draw only the outline of the object.
- Draw the object without using line (so look at colour/light/shadow/texture)
- Look at the object for one minute (object is now removed). Draw the object from memory.
Now take a few minutes to look at everyone’s drawings. Think about the following:
– are there any differences in how people have perceived the object?
– how would you describe the object now?
– has your opinion/understanding of it changed? How?
I ended up changing this plan slightly, with the first task being to close your eyes, hold the object for a few seconds, then (with eyes open) draw it.
I also dropped one or two of the proposed methodologies due to time and this new one that I inserted. I added this opening task in because of the dynamic in the room, and the layout. I do try to leave all workshop things I do with an element of adaptability, because I feel that it is disingenuous to create a set-in-stone activity without understanding properly the context or dynamics of a group of people and a space (unless you have ownership of a particular place and are very familiar with students, but even then, there can be a difference in mood etc…). I prefer to improvise upon a foundation of preparation or rehearsal, rather than being strictly rehearsed or completely improvised.
Observations and feedback from the group:
It was noted that task 2 resulted in humour/frustration, and task 4 absorbed and engaged people (task 3 was skipped). It seemed ‘very soothing’.
Positive feedback was:
- Exercise built up an ‘experience of the object’
- The quick pace of the lesson stressed capturing a ‘feeling’ of something, not the ‘look’ of something
- The exercise was useful in flexing a part of the brain that helps draw from memory
- The constraints felt ‘both fun and challenging’
- The outcomes were surprising
- Tactility of the first task made the participant aware of some features of the object they might otherwise not have noticed through just looking
- The exercise ‘made’ people draw and the end summary helped to elucidate what the aim was
- Details of the object were more intriguing when explored through touch with eyes closed
Negative feedback was:
- There wasn’t time to reflect properly on the different approaches to drawing and how it can build up knowledge of the object
My reflections on this
I was surprised that task 1 seemed to resonate a lot with participants. It was something i’d thrown in at the end as mentioned above, so wasn’t particularly thought-through or road-tested before like some of the other ones. I think it has given me something to try myself when building up a memory of objects through drawing. This tactile handling as a way of building an image in the brain, before looking. I am interested in ways of drawing and representing the world, and how this can be altered, skewed and disrupted, so this and similar exercises are part of that enquiry. This was very useful as it is the first time i have asked for or received feedback on an exercise like this, and I should do it more.