ADN 481: Digital Painting and Drawing
Class Discussion of Drawing, Painting, Digital Imaging, and the Creative Process
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01/14/08
Intro to Speculative Drawing
Filed under: Creative Process, Draw/Paint, General
Posted by: mfreema @ 5:10 pm

How do you draw what you have never seen before? Have you ever spent time staring into the clouds while naming objects, places, and things as the clouds form new configuration. Have you ever tried to make shadow puppets on the walls with your hands? I’m sure you have tried at least one of these as a kid. Looking at abstract forms and creating relationships between what is in front of you and what you have the ability to visualize is a core process in speculative drawing.

Speculative drawing is simply a process of finding, recognizing, or generating forms as you search for design possibilities. In most cases you don’t have everything worked out in an image before it is translated into a drawing or painting. You may have an impression of what you want but these visual impression are often fleeting and difficult to consider as a whole. However, your marks are certain and once they are recorded on paper (or by other means) they remain for you to consider, analyze, and revise  them. Chances are, unless it is some type of divine act, clouds are not really forming the objects that you interpret them to be. However, the variety and ambiguity of their shapes lend them to being interpreted in multiple ways. They are themselves physical things that we recognize and can name but through their abstract shapes they suggest other forms.  They also can be a mirror to the way that you resolve forms because it is you who essentially makes the forms and associations not them.

The human mind naturally tries to make sense of abstract form. Consequently, observing or manipulating abstract forms can lead to ideas for representational imagery. Exercise your creative ability to discover original design solutions and form ideas by beginning with abstract forms. You may find that it helps you to break out of cliches that you have developed over time. Anything can be valid approach to creating base forms such as blobs of ink,  a series of gestural lines, folded sheets of paper, irregularities in wood grain, or cracks in a sidewalk.

On some level, all drawings are both abstract and representational but when classifying works as representational or abstract this loose interpretation is not very helpful. Likewise, most drawings involve speculative drawing but some would be better specifically classified as speculative drawing than others. For our purposes, speculative drawing is the intentional search for or generation of abstract relationships in order to stimulate creative thinking, discover new design solutions, or invent new forms.

On one hand, speculative drawing is a natural component of the drawing process used in tandem with other ways of working to help you massage your elements into what you feel are the right relationships as you work. Even if you are drawing something in a fairly deliberate manner, your marks in the process of drawing and elements that are already laid down can and should actively influence your design decisions. On the other hand, when pushed, speculative drawing can be used as a separate method of working in order to generate forms as an initial part of the creative process.  It is a natural part of the drawing process but you can emphasize it in such a way that it enhances your ability to generate forms, design solutions, and increase your flexibility as an artist and designer.

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