Drawing helps us build a conscious understanding of our liking for certain landscapes, people, cartoons and other objects. We find explanations for our attractions, we develop an aesthetic, a capacity to judge about beauty and ugliness. We find out with greater conviction what is missing in a picture we don’t like and what contributes to the beauty of the one we do. We start to analyse a scene that catches our interest and find the origin of beauty (‘the combination of ocean and the evening sun’, ‘the way the birds form a pattern across the sky’). We move from a numb ‘I like this’ to ‘I like this because…’. We ask ourselves more vigorously, ‘is it better that the light strikes the object from the side than from overhead? Does blue go well with red? Do the buildings need to be as high as the street is wide so that the city looks attractive?’ The finished piece might not then be marked by a genius, but at least it is motivated by a search for an authentic representation of a personal experience.
And on the basis of this conscious awareness, more solid memories can be founded. According to John Ruskin, a famous art critic of the Victorian era, ‘drawing allows us to stay the cloud in its fading, the leaf in its trembling, and the shadows in their changing’.
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