Tuesday, 28 June 2011


We've done three days of drawing so far, and it is all very very strange. The very first thing we drew was Jasen's face, which came out for the most part fairly well. The second thing we drew was a (real life) person from memory. That came out fairly terribly. I was trying to remember a clear image of my intended person, and it was recognizable, but whenever I tried to see a particular feature, then the whole thing just slid around and didn't make sense at all. Then we drew our hand, which was a pretty standard exercise, I guess.

We were shown an image of the profile-vase image and asked to copy down a copy of it, drawing one side just looking at the lines, and drawing the other side while thinking of facial features. We copied a drawing of Stravinsky by Picasso twice: once rightside-up and once upside-down. I guess the intention is to draw lines instead of saying, oh, that's a head, Imma ignore Jasen now and just look at my paper and draw what I think a head looks like! But I don't think any of us were doing that anyways. I certainly wasn't doing that anyways.

The hardest thing for me is getting anywhere near finished, because each drawing was to be done in fifteen minutes. It's fairly difficult to draw things with any detail in fifteen minutes, unless it's done without studying a real world object very carefully.

I believe the mouth is the hardest part of the face to draw.

On Tuesday, we drew the lines of our left hands, while twisting our body and looking at our left hands so that we couldn't see the paper, and then we didn't look at the paper at all. Things came out pretty unrecognizable. After that, we looked at our hands through a viewfinder window thing, tracing the lines with markers. We shaded a page of sketchpad, copied the outline of a hand from the viewfinder, and then filled it in very very carefully. And shaded it. Those came out very very cool.

But that was before, and now it is today. Today was strange. We drew chairs. And then we drew the negative spaces around and through the chairs. I guess the idea was to get an outline in proportion, and it was supposed to help to look at shapes (of spaces) instead of features of chairs. Finally, we drew a corner of the classroom.

Drawing is still a lot of fun, three days in. I feel like some of the things are coming out very prettily, and some other things are coming out very funnily.

However, I've heard it said (I think it was Rahul who said so? But I forget.) that the drawing is a very good metaphor for seeing the real world, and exactly that, and no more than that. We're supposed to see evidence objectively, without our cognitive biases, and that's like drawing without some preconceived notion of how a chair ought to be put together, and it only looks anywhere close to accurate if I draw exactly what I see, and not what I expect to see. That's a near-perfect metaphor for deciding what is most likely to be true.

But I'm skeptical that it actually helps to decide what is most likely to be true. It seems that seeing lines does not map directly onto seeing evidence, or seeing arguments, or seeing information. I'm very fond of it because it is a lot of fun, but I do doubt how useful it is to thinking rationally.

I feel like a big bad naysayer. Skeptical about everything! But I promise I am trying everything from as neutral a starting position as I can manage.

A side note: last night, Lincoln very nearly convinced me that we are a cult! Which is to say, it's not immediately obvious to me that we are not a cult. Interesting hypothetical apostasy here.

1 comment:

  1. Looking at your stories, I think your "naysaying" is legitimate and, if you're the only one expressing skepticism about this stuff it's the others you should be worried about, not yourself.