In early life, the graphic development spontaneously goes on according to consequential phases. It is an organic, archetypal process that only needs a welcoming and non-judgmental environment in order to flourish, respecting individual paces.
In adults, however, spontaneity is no longer enough. Is it possible to restart drawing again in later life, just for the sake of doing it, without performance anxiety, without necessarily having to represent something in a realistic way? Here are some playful “strategies” I experienced along with the artist Michele Ferri. I hope they will be useful for all those who – at some point in their childhood – stopped drawing and now think they are no longer able of it.
Let’s begin by warming up your hand with a walk on the paper sheet. Draw two small signs of different colors at any point: one will be the starting point and one the arrival point. Then start going with the black pen, freely exploring the space of the sheet without interrupting the path, in any direction, at the most comfortable speed. If you no longer know where to go, just slow down, slower and slower, but keep going on. This activity can be repeated in different ways, for example by changing the travel speed, the tool “for thewalk” (a pencil, a marker), the positions of the starting and arrival points.
Now you can create more interesting environments to explore on other sheets of paper, by placing cutouts and small objects here and there. Then go through these spaces, even trying different grades of pressure if using a pencil.
Interesting shapes could be hidden through your random paths: let’s try to find them… Repeat another free exploration of a sheet, tracing a path that intersects in many points, preferably using a pen. Then identify the closed shapes originated by the lines and choose the ones you like.
How about dressing your shapes with a nice texture? How do they look? Trace them on a colored or textured cardboard and cut them out.
Each shape can be transformed in many ways, creating a group of shapes that are all different but recognizable as belonging to the same “family”. You can vary the dimensions or proportions, stretch them, crush them, as if they were of a plastic material that can be deformed as you like.
At this point, you have enough available tools in order to compose your own visual stories. Enjoy!