Drawing is all about relationships, as is business. In order to succeed in either, we need to see the big picture while also seeing the details which comprise it. Unless we spend time working from multiple perspectives, we’ll always see the same picture, and jump to the same conclusions, and deliver the same results.
Practicing drawing allows us to permanently change the way we think in business scenarios. This is our brains’ neuroplasticity reacting to our intellectual needs. “[Drawing] requires that one confronts and deals with paradoxes. For example, we can know that a ceiling is flat and the corner is a right angle. But on the picture plane, the edges of the ceiling are not horizontal and the corner angles are not right angles at all.” – Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Through drawing, we are forced to practice whole brain thinking… comparing what we know and what we see to deliver a defined result. Let’s get started with an example.
Here is my original sketch. I was doing a mental sketch of a horse and elephant, pretty basic. Analyzing my sketch, you can see that I understand:
- that a horse is smaller than an elephant,
- both have four legs, and
- elephants have a funny little tuft at the end, well suited for swatting flies in Disney movies.
Despite my practice drawing, my results continue to be the same when I don’t truly examine the object I’m drawing, and how all its components relate.
Luckily… I found a horse who was very eager to be my subject matter. (It may be more of a mule or colt, judging the size.)
Once I had a specimen which I could observe to evaluate the relationships of all the components (hooves, tail, mane, body)… my sketches became a bit better. You can see that I included additional details my original sketch didn’t, such as the defined muscles. However, I was still having a hard time breaking from the mental model in my head, an animal with a mane, tail, and four legs which was facing to the right. In order to change my results, I needed to change my perspective and challenge those paradoxes.
Luckily, I found an elephant. I couldn’t fit them both in my sketch easily, a happy accident, so I decided to change up the perspective, and sketch them straight on. A fearsome duo for sure.
Here you can see horses #4 and #5, before I changed my perspective. Notice however, the dramatic difference between the new horse and elephant (below the line) and the earlier sketches. From this new perspective, I had no Disney summary stuck in my head of what a true horse sketch should look like. I had no assumptions to fall back on. I had to really see my subject and analyze the relationships of all the components to create the final drawing.
I was astounded by the changes, so I figured I’d try it again. This time from the backside.
Again, I was very surprised with the turnout. Much better than when I first began sketching a horse 15 minutes earlier. It was my first horse sketching experience, and I’ll try again on a real horse sometime.
In business, we are forced to move fast and race onto the next project. Problem, Solution, Check, Done!
Einstein has a fantastic quote: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Spend that extra 20% of time on a project. Think it through, especially once you think you’ve got it figured out. Try to draw and redraw your conclusions. Visualize your business problem, and ask others what they think. You’ll learn that the relationships you initially define of people, places and things in your work may be a bit off, and you’ll be glad you learned sooner rather than later.
Also, try drawing an object from memory, and then from sight. Change the perspective.
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