Drawing as Research

Author(s): GARY CARPENTER

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Drawing has universal appeal. Its immediacy and minimal requirements make this timeless discipline ideal for exploring ideas, igniting the imagination, and documenting places, objects, and events. Drawing is indispensable to many disciplines, and there are hundreds of well-crafted, beautifully illustrated books dedicated to teaching the skills, materials, and techniques (the craft) of drawing. Craft, however, is relatively easy to master, despite how it may initially feel. 

A skill-driven approach may lead to months, years, even decades of acquiring skills that may not even be relevant to the work we are destined to create. We might even begin viewing this chase as our true creative path, at least until our muse arrives to reveal our intended work. Skills are important, but they are the vehicle for exploring curiosities and articulating ideas, not the function of the creative process. Locating a meaningful purpose for your work in conjunction with skill development is key to shaping a personal, sustainable, inquiry-based practice. 

A well-turned phrase in a poem or an emotive gesture in a drawing means little without authenticity, intention, and purpose. Drawing as Research is a companion resource focusing on the introspective, often overlooked aspects of creative development. Prioritizing content organically reveals the skills necessary to explore your ideas passionately while relieving much of the unnecessary pressure we place on skills throughout the process. Each creation then poses new questions that inspire subsequent works, forging a self-perpetuating, enriching lifelong journey. 

Precautionary Preface – Purposeful Ponderings Prior to Putting Pencil to Paper
1. Introduction: of soaring birds and burrowing rabbits 
Antici . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pation 
Down the rabbit’s hole 
What not to expect 
The heart of the matter 
form follows function 
     Aesthetic Authenticity: form is function 
     Increasing Function 

2. Who draws? Creativity, the myth, and the power of desire 
The Creativity Myth 
     Words Matter 
     Words Entrance and mystify 
     Language Creates Beliefs (real and imagined) 
     Words can render us powerless 
     The Talent fallacy 
     Dispelling Talent 
     The Aha Moments (no Muse Required) 
     Regain Creative Control 
Childhood Scars 
     Metrics 
     An “A” Drawing 
          Case in Point 

3. Why Draw? inspiration and function 
Drawing as a Verb 
The Arts Indelible Impact 
Social and Political drivers 
Shifting Roles: Trojan Horses 
Drawing as Language 
Fictional Lines 
Drawing Reveals Function 
Why Draw? Creative Calasthetics 
     Drawing Transforms and Transports 
     Drawing to Escape 
     Drawing to Investigate 
Drawing as Research 
So, Why Draw? 

4. Blinded by Aesthetics 
Distractions 
Shiny Bobbles 
     Dulling the Shine 
     Visual Impairment 
Hollow Aesthetics 
     Logical Fallacies 
     Locating the Magic 
The Artist’s Paradox 
The Expulsion From Hollow Aesthetics and Shiny Bobbles 
     Turning the Tables 
     A well Primed Well 
     Copious and Consistent 
     Parsing Out: Thumbs up/Thumbs down 
     Conquering Shiny Bobbles and Aesthetic Blindness 
Conditional Disclaimer 

5. the rude awakening 
the Hero’s Path 
The Rude Awakening 
Function: Finding Purpose 
     Narrowing the Scope 
     An Empowering Path 
     It’s Not Forever 
     Boldly and Bravely 
Unrecognizable You 
     Leave Expectations at the Door 
     Inner Conflict 
     We like Predictability 
Conclusion; awakening 

6. The Big Un-Easy: Ambiguity and Potential 
Ambiguity 
     The Carrot and the Stick 
     Repeated Exposure 
Potential : What if? 
     Carving out Space for Potential 
     Potential in Drawing (the Verb) 
     Potential in Drawing (the Noun) 
     Vacillating Between the Verb and Noun 
     A Reflection of You: mirror, mirror 
     The Immigrants Point of Entry 
     Prodding Potential: a Conscious Shift 

7. Turbulence and Tenacity; mistakes and style 
Style 
     A One hour Tutorial in Style 
Mistakes 

8. Sometimes, it really is all about you 
It’s about you now, not then 
The Power of Presence 
A fresh perspective 
Intuition 
Inquiring Minds: Central Q’s 
not the RIGHT, not THE, but A path 
Now, focusing in 
The Imposter Syndrome 
Putting in the Work 
Conduit of Presence 
Mind-Numbing Mediocrity 

9. Authenticity: Our Creative Impulse 
The Essence of Creative Work 
Aesthetic Conformity 
Unhiding 
Exposed 
Authentic Obligations 
You owe it to yourself; putting yourself out there 
To Boldly Unhide; one perspective 

10.Drawing on the Polymath 

11.Carving out Space (physical, emotional and intuitive) 
Granting Permission 
Expansion and Contraction 
Creative Entanglement/ Dominating Voices 
The Cultivation Process Inner Sanctuary 
Walled Garden 
Granting Yourself Permission 
Breaking Tradition 
Trust 

12.Nutless bolts 
Habit and Ritual 
Intention and Momentum 
Simply Draw 
Skill Building (basic considerations) 
Materials 
Making Progress, the Long Haul 
Am I Done Yet? 
Honeymoon Phase 
The Phoenix 
It’s Just a Drawing 
Perfection isn’t the Goal (or a reality); or-- paralyzing perfection 
Blockages 
Where the predictability Lies 

13.Tracking, mapping, the Critique and Grace 
Intro 
The critic and the Critique 
     Be Careful Why You Ask 
     Be Careful Who You Ask 
     Be Careful What You Ask 
     To Assimilate or Not 
Unpacking 
Internal and External Critique 
Self-Guidance 
Writing 
     Artist Statement 
Once Seen/Once Shared 
Grace 

14.To Boldly Go

GARY CARPENTER

Gary Carpenter is an artist whose lifelong curiosity and passion for research across multiple fields forged an interdisciplinary education through several schools culminating in his BFA and MFA from the University of Washington. The breadth of his experiences revealed the creative confidence necessary to support a diverse career through multiple disciplines. Since 2011, he has designed and taught courses on drawing, creativity, and the socially engaged arts, many focusing on community engagement with currently and formerly unhoused and incarcerated populations.

Drawing has universal appeal. Its immediacy and minimal requirements make this timeless discipline ideal for exploring ideas, igniting the imagination, and documenting places, objects, and events. Drawing is indispensable to many disciplines, and there are hundreds of well-crafted, beautifully illustrated books dedicated to teaching the skills, materials, and techniques (the craft) of drawing. Craft, however, is relatively easy to master, despite how it may initially feel. 

A skill-driven approach may lead to months, years, even decades of acquiring skills that may not even be relevant to the work we are destined to create. We might even begin viewing this chase as our true creative path, at least until our muse arrives to reveal our intended work. Skills are important, but they are the vehicle for exploring curiosities and articulating ideas, not the function of the creative process. Locating a meaningful purpose for your work in conjunction with skill development is key to shaping a personal, sustainable, inquiry-based practice. 

A well-turned phrase in a poem or an emotive gesture in a drawing means little without authenticity, intention, and purpose. Drawing as Research is a companion resource focusing on the introspective, often overlooked aspects of creative development. Prioritizing content organically reveals the skills necessary to explore your ideas passionately while relieving much of the unnecessary pressure we place on skills throughout the process. Each creation then poses new questions that inspire subsequent works, forging a self-perpetuating, enriching lifelong journey. 

Precautionary Preface – Purposeful Ponderings Prior to Putting Pencil to Paper
1. Introduction: of soaring birds and burrowing rabbits 
Antici . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pation 
Down the rabbit’s hole 
What not to expect 
The heart of the matter 
form follows function 
     Aesthetic Authenticity: form is function 
     Increasing Function 

2. Who draws? Creativity, the myth, and the power of desire 
The Creativity Myth 
     Words Matter 
     Words Entrance and mystify 
     Language Creates Beliefs (real and imagined) 
     Words can render us powerless 
     The Talent fallacy 
     Dispelling Talent 
     The Aha Moments (no Muse Required) 
     Regain Creative Control 
Childhood Scars 
     Metrics 
     An “A” Drawing 
          Case in Point 

3. Why Draw? inspiration and function 
Drawing as a Verb 
The Arts Indelible Impact 
Social and Political drivers 
Shifting Roles: Trojan Horses 
Drawing as Language 
Fictional Lines 
Drawing Reveals Function 
Why Draw? Creative Calasthetics 
     Drawing Transforms and Transports 
     Drawing to Escape 
     Drawing to Investigate 
Drawing as Research 
So, Why Draw? 

4. Blinded by Aesthetics 
Distractions 
Shiny Bobbles 
     Dulling the Shine 
     Visual Impairment 
Hollow Aesthetics 
     Logical Fallacies 
     Locating the Magic 
The Artist’s Paradox 
The Expulsion From Hollow Aesthetics and Shiny Bobbles 
     Turning the Tables 
     A well Primed Well 
     Copious and Consistent 
     Parsing Out: Thumbs up/Thumbs down 
     Conquering Shiny Bobbles and Aesthetic Blindness 
Conditional Disclaimer 

5. the rude awakening 
the Hero’s Path 
The Rude Awakening 
Function: Finding Purpose 
     Narrowing the Scope 
     An Empowering Path 
     It’s Not Forever 
     Boldly and Bravely 
Unrecognizable You 
     Leave Expectations at the Door 
     Inner Conflict 
     We like Predictability 
Conclusion; awakening 

6. The Big Un-Easy: Ambiguity and Potential 
Ambiguity 
     The Carrot and the Stick 
     Repeated Exposure 
Potential : What if? 
     Carving out Space for Potential 
     Potential in Drawing (the Verb) 
     Potential in Drawing (the Noun) 
     Vacillating Between the Verb and Noun 
     A Reflection of You: mirror, mirror 
     The Immigrants Point of Entry 
     Prodding Potential: a Conscious Shift 

7. Turbulence and Tenacity; mistakes and style 
Style 
     A One hour Tutorial in Style 
Mistakes 

8. Sometimes, it really is all about you 
It’s about you now, not then 
The Power of Presence 
A fresh perspective 
Intuition 
Inquiring Minds: Central Q’s 
not the RIGHT, not THE, but A path 
Now, focusing in 
The Imposter Syndrome 
Putting in the Work 
Conduit of Presence 
Mind-Numbing Mediocrity 

9. Authenticity: Our Creative Impulse 
The Essence of Creative Work 
Aesthetic Conformity 
Unhiding 
Exposed 
Authentic Obligations 
You owe it to yourself; putting yourself out there 
To Boldly Unhide; one perspective 

10.Drawing on the Polymath 

11.Carving out Space (physical, emotional and intuitive) 
Granting Permission 
Expansion and Contraction 
Creative Entanglement/ Dominating Voices 
The Cultivation Process Inner Sanctuary 
Walled Garden 
Granting Yourself Permission 
Breaking Tradition 
Trust 

12.Nutless bolts 
Habit and Ritual 
Intention and Momentum 
Simply Draw 
Skill Building (basic considerations) 
Materials 
Making Progress, the Long Haul 
Am I Done Yet? 
Honeymoon Phase 
The Phoenix 
It’s Just a Drawing 
Perfection isn’t the Goal (or a reality); or-- paralyzing perfection 
Blockages 
Where the predictability Lies 

13.Tracking, mapping, the Critique and Grace 
Intro 
The critic and the Critique 
     Be Careful Why You Ask 
     Be Careful Who You Ask 
     Be Careful What You Ask 
     To Assimilate or Not 
Unpacking 
Internal and External Critique 
Self-Guidance 
Writing 
     Artist Statement 
Once Seen/Once Shared 
Grace 

14.To Boldly Go

GARY CARPENTER

Gary Carpenter is an artist whose lifelong curiosity and passion for research across multiple fields forged an interdisciplinary education through several schools culminating in his BFA and MFA from the University of Washington. The breadth of his experiences revealed the creative confidence necessary to support a diverse career through multiple disciplines. Since 2011, he has designed and taught courses on drawing, creativity, and the socially engaged arts, many focusing on community engagement with currently and formerly unhoused and incarcerated populations.