Don’t give up.

19Jul06

Drawing instruction

Michael Kimmelman, in the New York Times, writes about drawing in America, how it was and what has become of it.

So it is with classical music, painting and drawing, professional renditions of which are now so widely available that most people probably can’t or don’t imagine there’s any point in bothering to do these things themselves. Communities of amateurs still thrive, but they are self-selecting groups. A vast majority of society seems to presume that culture is something specialists produce.

People, [Benjamin] Franklin pointed out, can often “express ideas more clearly with a lead pencil or a bit of chalk” than with words. “Drawing is a kind of universal language, understood by all nations,” he reminded Americans.

We have given it up, at a cost that, as Franklin might have put it, is beyond words. Mr. Angell goes on in his book to say that television and sports journalism have taught us all about the skills and salaries and private lives of professional ballplayers, on whom we now focus, instead of playing the game ourselves.

As a consequence, he writes, “we don’t like them as much as we once did, and we don’t like ourselves much, either.”

Too bad, we say. But if we listen to article’s exhortation, then we wouldn’t just sit back and focus on the watching. We’d be the striving amateurs.

oh, and

Kimmelman mentions the iPods and cameraphones, “the equivalent of fast food”, that help make it easier for us to throw our hands up and stop bothering to create and do. Technology, as usual, seems pretty malignant. But technology itself is not bad, of course.

It’s our excuse to use, but it’s also our enabler. Consider the Tablet PC. It’s unfortunate Microsoft isn’t more philisophical. Tablet PCs aren’t for painstakingly scrawling out an email with handwriting recognition when it takes a tenth the time to type. They could be for creating and communicating — expressing ourselves more clearly and learning to play again ourselves.

Arch

Unless it involves kites, always listen to Ben.

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