A Line Goes for a Walk …
By Caitlin Perkins
Fleisher’s Manager of Adult Programs
“When I see a white piece of paper, I feel I’ve got to draw. And drawing, for me, is the beginning of everything.” — Ellsworth Kelly
Like Ellsworth Kelly, I see drawing as the root of everything for those of us with a regular studio practice, and beyond. Drawing teaches you to see better, developing your ability to truly observe the world around you.
Do you regularly think or say, “I can’t even draw a straight line”? Well, I challenge your assumption. Drawing is just another language that anyone can learn, a visual language where the syntax is built from mark making, gesture, and line.
Now, learning to draw, like learning anything, can be frustrating. I remember my first college drawing course and wanting to poke my eyeballs out, if I “had to draw one more cardboard box.” But repetition, especially for adult learners at the critical space between what they know and what they want to learn, is the perfect “sweet spot” as Daniel Coyle calls it in his book “The Talent Code.”
Pictured above: Caitlin Perkins, “Milanese Opossum,” pencil on paper, 9 x 11 inches, 2006.
Coyle suggests anyone can improve at a task, in less time, by practicing on or at the edge of their ability. The regular practice of drawing, along with learning from variety of teachers each with a unique style, allowed me to break through the frustration. I created lots of failed, terrible drawings, but on the other side I created my own way to describe the world. I think everyone is capable of learning how to draw.
Developing your own drawing practice is a wonderful experience. In addition, an understanding of basic drawing principals – like composition, negative space, and proportion – can be drawn on (no pun intended) when working in any other artistic medium, whether it be painting, sculpture, or something else.
Come to learn, share, and grow your skills. Maybe you’ll discover that, really, straight lines are overrated and that energetic, meandering lines drawn with passion are much more interesting. As Paul Klee put it, “a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”