22 October 07

The Creative License

Katherine of Making a Mark is encouraging us all to take part in the Big Drawing Book Review this October. I’ve decided to review Danny Gregory’s Creative License, because this is the book, more than any other, that I encourage people to look at if their response to my sketching is “I could never do that.”

Danny’s story is one he tells movingly in his book Everyday Matters: he left his apartment one morning to go to a fast-paced but unfulfilling advertising job in downtown Manhattan; his wife left to catch the subway uptown. She fell into the tracks and was run over by a train. She survived but their lives were turned upside-down as they each came to terms with her new paraplegic status. For Danny, this was very difficult, even more difficult in some ways than for Patti. He overcame it, he says, by drawing his coffee cup. Then the table. Then something else in the kitchen. He thinks drawing saved his life.

Tragic? No. Tragic, though, is the conviction we develop as children that we can no longer draw, though we did it happily as toddlers and beyond, according to Danny. We stop drawing because of some minor humiliation, and then we stop seeing. Danny coaxes us through this and beyond.

Coming to drawing as an adult is all about learning to see again. Forget what you know: draw what you see. The Creative License takes you on a journey of ways to see again, and then explores different ways to translate what you see onto paper. There are exercises but mostly it’s an exuberant series of encouraging noises: go ahead, it won’t bite you.

It’s not a “how to” book (except he does urge you to use pen, to commit to your line). It’s more about giving yourself permission to do the previously unthinkable, to pick up a pen and paper and draw. Sketch in the journal you write in. Fear no mistakes; it’s all good, even the bad drawings.

Five pencils, this one.

Posted by at 09:08 PM in Design Arts | Link |

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