Drawing as insider research

I have taken up two new activities this year, with the intention of keeping mind and body in working order.

Re the body, I have joined the village circuit training group for an hour two nights a week. This is challenging – but my competitive days are over, so I just do what I can do.

The brain activity is drawing. Hopefully this will balance the left-brained activity which I seem to spend most of my time on. For the next nine weeks I will spend Monday afternoons in life drawing classes. I joined the class this week and I loved it. The first two hour class is Developing Life Drawing; the second is Experimental Life Class.

Both classes started with gesture drawing. This involved 10 different poses in 10 minutes, i.e. one minute to capture each pose. I found this very liberating. The focus was on observation. We had been asked to take a roll of lining wallpaper to draw on, so there were no expectations of the outcomes. We were told that we should ‘look’ for more than 90% of the time and when we were drawing, our eyes should be continually moving from the paper to the model and back.

Most interesting for me was that I was told to try not to line draw, to try not start on the outer edges and work inwards, but instead to start in the middle and work outwards and in particular to avoid lines and instead scribble. We were shown drawings by Maggie Hambling and Henry Moore to illustrate this.

Maggie Hambling:  Source of image




Henry Moore: Source of image

I can see the parallels between this approach and insider research. The idea that the form/figure will emerge from the scribble resonated with me, particularly since when doing this we were asked to tape our pencils to a long garden cane, so whilst scribbling from the middle, we were at the same time standing at some distance from the paper. This seems to me the same challenge as presented by insider research.

Summer Schools, GIFs and Life Drawing

I have been enjoying Pat Thomson’s daily blog posts about her 5 day course on the Tate Summer School.

I was particularly interested in the making of animated GIFs that they did on the last day, using this software. I have never made a GIF myself, although I have seen a lot, particularly in the outputs from ds106 – an open online course about Digital Storytelling. Pat has posted a link to a Tumblr site where all the GIFs made on her course have been archived. I have to say that I am not a fan of GIFs. When they pop up on a site, I usually wish there was a button that I could push to stop them, so that I could read the rest of the post without distraction. I find the constant quick flicking of images irritating. I think my problem is that I haven’t been able to determine the point of a lot of GIFs that I have seen, other than that they might be seen as a fun addition to a post. But Pat’s post made me do a search for what are considered to be ‘good’ GIFs. I have found quite a few sites where they seem to make more sense, e.g. their use to explain Newton’s cradle  or for advertising as in this Animated Bunny GIF .

Newtons_cradle_animation_book_2 Source of Gif

And I was very grateful to Matthias Melcher when he created a GIF to depict a 3D image of our Footprints of Emergence landscape  (This won’t make sense without reference to the associated research. See Publications and this presentation for research references).


So thanks to Pat for sharing her experience at the Tate Summer School, which sounds a treat, although personally I think I like the sound of a week long life drawing class in London, that a friend has signed up for, better. Evidently according to a recent BBC News article,  life drawing can stave off memory loss, so it would serve a double function 🙂

Update 28-07-15

Here is a link to the storify that Nancy refers to in the comments below – https://storify.com/NancyWhite/the-value-of-memes-in-engaged-mobile-learing-with-