How to draw?

A written reflection on drawing from college:

Drawing is a recording process. It is best not to rush through it. Drawing is seeing. It is an engaging mental process, through which much is learned of the nature of visuality. Drawing can be a process to increase the ability to accurately perceive objects but can also cultivate the ability to more quickly and more accurately understand concepts that are true about the visual nature of objects, environments and people. Drawing is a manifestation of sight. Sight is supraphysical. Sight brings forth understanding and knowledge. Drawing may simultaneously be a process of mechanical recording and conceptual recording. An answer to a how-to question should find credence in a concept foremost. A reader is introduced and prepared for a direct answer by reading first an explanation of the drawing concept.

To draw, there are many possible processes to choose from. A person may choose to focus on one, or engage in many. Lower processes combine to form higher ones and all processes behave as parts of a whole that productively relate to one another. Additionally drawing is a collective and accumulative activity, and expertise is obtained through trial and error. A person attempting to draw, with the determination to obtain a long term prize, will have many drawing sessions. Each will provide unique insights to be collected in an experiential database. Experience gained is both physical and mental, in that the brain develops and nourishes concepts, and in that the body, eyes, arms and hands cultivate a 3-dimensional physical awareness. Both parts lend aid to each other.

To continue answering the question, a structure must be used, although structure is unusual to a process which should be called creative. The following area of the answer will be ordered partially to illustrate possible mental and physical drawing processes:

As well, the following list will be hierarchical in order to divulge truthfully:

Technical Drawing: Technical drawing is mechanical, though not internally methodical. The goal is to understand the visual nature of seen environment, objects, and people. Many concepts surround technical drawing, and have done so for a very long time. In most cases drawing is considered an activity which produces 2-dimensional results from 3-dimensional observations. The world we are in is 3-dimensional, and sprouting from this are the main concepts revolving around technical drawing. In short, many of these concepts support each artist’s growing idea of their 3d environment. The simplest tool to use, inherent to all people, is the grid. Many people think of it 2-dimensionally though ultimately it is a 3-dimensional awareness. Our brains are wired, for lack of a better word, to know verticality and horizontality. These innate tools allow us to balance and orient our bodies safely and properly in 3-dimensional space.

Thus, we all are born with a sense of the vertical and horizontal. Geometry is a concept that naturally follows. When these two senses cooperate, the grid is born. The grid can be visually/conceptually subdivided infinitely, and as a person's power to visualize and conceptualize increases they are able to make creative calculations, enabling them to project or superimpose the grid in their mind's eye onto the direct visual input they receive from sight. This activity is crucial and should be considered central to technical drawing. It's an ability that grows and advances; possibly a task the brain can run nearly subconsciously. In fact, it's an ability that greatly advantages the mind's ability to envision.  More or less, the grid allows an artist to calculate distances and procure proportions. Geometric understanding couples with the grid to allow for highly complex calculations.

A beginner in technical drawing may strain and practice to push these abilities to the realm of second nature; that is indeed what happens over the course of much time and practice. The grid and the use of geometry in technical drawing allows for an improved understanding of the visual nature of things, though it is not the only tool necessary. It helps artists to understand shapes, proportions, and dimensions, and gain the skill to represent them, but it does not do much for the other aspects of the visual nature of things.


Another aspect is broadly termed: Lighting. Technical drawing should include the practice of representing value (light and dark). If technical drawing is done with pencil or another media that allows for variable mark-making by the change of applied pressure, value can be represented with ease. The mind will do well to build a proportional understanding of the media, in that a low percentage of applied force will produce strokes of lighter value that may represent those viewed areas of lighter value that the artist seeks to recreate (light), and in that a higher percentage of applied force will produce darker strokes that may represent darker areas. The activity referred to is commonly called "shading".

Though all of the above processes and ideas related to technical drawing sound mechanical and invariable, the actual process should not be. In short, technical drawing should be an activity during which the artist seeks to grasp the nature of visual reality in every possible way and to represent it with mark-making most accurately. This is the strict definition of technical drawing, and by it a person can learn much. The actual process, however, is in no way predictable because the resulting experiences are highly difficult to explain, and surely appear to each person differently. The process and associated concepts are made elastic by the enormous breadth of potential visual information and by the unique perceptions and mind-shapes of individuals. To create a situational proof that situation must be made by simplifying many things. For instance, a cup, if separated entirely from its surroundings, can be observed in the round from endless degrees/points of view and at variable distance. Although the ideal concepts and processes used to explore the visual world through technical drawing remain somewhat consistent, the course of experiential learning for an individual is unpredictable and promising.