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Draw to See and Think

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Winston Churchill had passion for painting. Corporate leaders doodle on paper while listening at meetings. Someone tells you to sketch out your ideas to prepare for a presentation. What is the link?

I recently visited Venice. A friend told me before I departed for Italy,

Take a sketch book and draw what you see to understand what you see.

What did he mean?

Jonah Lehrer relates a story about the connection between drawing and seeing and thinking in Imagine, How Creativity Works. Lehrer met up and spoke with Milton Glaser, the American graphic designer of the I ♥ NY logo. Glaser tells a story about his realization that his sketch of his mother showed her as she really looked, not as he remembered her in his mind’s eye.

 But as Glaser stared at her face and then compared what he saw to the black marks on the paper, her appearance slowly came into view. He was able to draw her as she was, and not as he expected her to be. “That sketch taught me something interesting about the mind,” he says. “We’re always looking, but we never really see.” Although Glaser had looked at his mother ever single day of his life, he didn’t see her until he tried to draw her. “When you draw an object, the mind becomes deeply, intensely attentive,” Glaser says. “And it’s that act of attention that allows you to really grasp something, to become fully conscious of it. That’s what I learned from my mother’s face, that drawing is really a kind of thinking.”

Churchill painted to escape from his political turmoils into the countrysides and oceanscapes that were the subjects of his paintings. Corporate leaders doodle to connect dots and make transitions into new way of thinking and doing. I drew Venice to see what captured my attention and interests.

Take time to draw and doodle. They are your visual language connecting you to the world. As Sunni Brow says visual language helps us to understand information and solve problems.  Use a pen and paper and learn what you really see and think.

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