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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shape Goggles

My mentor, Doug Kornfeld (who I dedicated my book "Ish" to) challenged me to see more creatively. To see patterns and shapes. I realized by a very gentle nudging on his part - that I had been drinking in the detail and often was lost in it. I took a few courses with him in the late eighties/early nineties - and came to realize that he was really doing "therapy" with me by asking just the right question at just the right time.

He seemed quite happy to leave me pondering - not really waiting for the answer - and certainly not interested in the final product. Not in a mean way, he just wanted us to keep going, to keep exploring, to keep finding our personal breakthroughs.

Creating a drawing (noun) was not the point. Drawing (the verb) was the point.

And really great drawing is really engaged thinking.

I realized, at that moment, that seeing shapes and patterns was something I had always liked to do growing up, but now that I had become aware of it - with my "shape goggles" on - I started looking at things around me very differently. If you have seen the film, A Beautiful Mind, John Nash could "see" numbers glowing around him- and in the same way - I was seeing shapes emerge from trees, cars, buildings, faces.

Sifting through my many tin lunch boxes filled with scraps, sketches, doodles, I came across this drawing of St. Mary's Church in Dedham, MA I created awhile back, but its a good example of looking for the big shapes in an object. I then splashed colors to reflect the "spirit" of the church, rather than "getting it right" - or "accurate" as was so often taught to me in school.

So, I raise my "shape goggles" to salute Doug Kornfeld, and all those wonderful teachers and mentors around the world - who challenge us to go beyond the details and see essence - and to get our beautiful minds doing their wonderful magic.


Judy Adamson said...

I love the colourful church! And I think it's so important to let go of the need to 'get it right'! (A constant theme of my blog!)

Dintoons said...

Peter, I LOVE this way of seeing things! Seeing shapes is indeed seeing the building blocks of this universe, of life and love, of the divine architecture.

I call the basic shapes of circle, square and triangle, Love Shapes. And these, in their infinite permutations and combinations, dance and play endlessly, creating the 'gross' world of matter around us... while all the time containing within them the hidden fundamental reality of the universe, which is love, love and love alone.

Your drawing n colouring of the church is DELICIOUSLY full of 'essence' :o)

Will Strong said...

That's brilliant. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Renmeleon said...

My mother used to buy me the Ed Emberley books when I was younger. Using color and shape, he taught a simplicity of form that has stuck with me throughout my life. It is nice to hear that someone else is sharing that view of the world. I share it with my own daughter now, along with "ish" which has become a very important term in everything in our lives, not just art. Thank you for that.

Anita Nixon said...

Yep...that is the way I try to teach as well. It also becomes empowering for the student to see the shape as potential for so much more and that they had the ability to create that thing...but the journey is oh so more rewarding than the process. Well said.