Lately, when my daughter draws she often provides a soundtrack to whats happening.
Zoom A rabbit runs cross the lawn.
Zaa The rain pours down.
Ton ton ton The house is hammered together.
And this isn’t even to mention the various animals and characters that show up with their many voices in the play of her drawing. Everything that happens while she draws become a chorus of her own songs, a set for a musical of her own design, or the structure for the next happening in her day.
Drawing becomes the gateway to not just expression, but illuminating and understanding reality. I think that those who like to disparage art therapy need only spend a few minutes with some crayons and a 3 year old to understand how the impulse to create can open so many doorways of expression and clarity within and without ourselves.
When I sit with my daughter to draw I also realize that all those sound effects and voices feed right back into the drawing. It’s good to listen to what can come out when you just listen to what the pen and the paper will say together. Looking while what we are looking at is talking.
This is a way to find knowledge and understanding in the world. It is not a usual or encouraged method. Instead, the most commonly reenforced culturally preferred method at coming to ideas and conclusions is through a rigorous logical examination. Like a lawyer or an engineer.
But the artist, or the drawer, doesn’t have to do this. They have the separate skill and approach of laying out what is there and what is within, and then finding the connections and thoughts that naturally appear. There need not be a predetermined and rational course, but instead a process of wandering mind finding solutions.
This is my daughters practice. Or so it seems to me as an outsider and spectator. Drawings happen and elucidate a narrative and course of thinking. It creates a feedback loop with her understanding of the world, the drawing feeding it, and it feeding the world.
And that is what makes drawing so compelling, its essential connection to thinking and finding understanding. It is a kind of play too. Unfortunately, play is often relegated to a second tier of thinking, and of course the visual is often viewed as less important than writing. But image and vision are essential. And in the continuing act of inventing our lives and livelihood, play can be what puts it all together.
Certainly for the artist, this play is drawing, and drawing is thinking, and this thinking is our path to understanding.