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.