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If you’re trying to think of a worthy pastime to take up during lockdown, you might want to consider putting pencil to paper. Not only is drawing a very calming way to spend your time, it also brings benefits to the whole learning process.
According to D.B. Dowd, a professor of art and American culture at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, people are often put off by drawing, as they think they don’t have the skills. Many correlate a proficiency in art with a professional skill, instead of it being an enjoyable creative process. “This essential confusion has stunted our understanding of drawing and kept it from being seen as a tool for learning above all else,” Dowd explained to Quartz.
So even if you’re no Leonardo da Vinci, there is absolutely no reason to stop yourself from picking up a pencil and sketching what you see. By thinking of it as a domain reserved for artists, people will miss out on some very useful skills that come with practicing drawing. As Dowd maintains, it’s not about creating a prize-worthy piece, “if you take a step back, and define drawing as symbolic mark-making, it’s obvious that all human beings draw. Diagrams, maps, doodles, smiley faces: These are all drawings!”
And with drawing, vital skills can be honed: “It fosters close observation, analytical thinking, patience, even humility.” This seems so important in an age that relies more on more on the digital world. Dowd points out the dangers of relying too much on this technology, and how software such as Google images can actually narrow your choices — making you quick to look at defined images and not search for something more precise. You won’t rely on your observational skills, which the art historian explains “engages the senses and heightens experience, making the world seem bigger, not smaller.”
Interestingly, Dowd also shares how he believes drawing can make us more modest. He believes that by taking the time to really observe what you draw, you understand how little you actually know. Quite simply: “Drawing makes us slow down, be patient, pay attention,” adding. “observation itself is respectful, above all else.”
While many of us as parents encourage our children to draw, it’s never too late to get creative ourselves. If you try your hand at sketching a still life you’ll also get the opportunity to marvel at God’s creation. By drawing a simple leaf you’ll notice its intricacies and the role each fiber plays in its production. If you multiply this sort of observation by everything around you, you can’t help but feel inspired by life, and what a privilege it is to be a part of it all.
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