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J. Irwin

Columbia College Chicago (UNITED STATES)
While pedagogical methods on the subject of manual drawing appropriately emphasize technique and skill development, the teaching of drawing often misses a component critical to designers; drawing as a dialogical tool.

Entering into a dialogue facilitated by drawings is essential to the design process and essential to the success of the designer. When a studio instructor asks a student to produce three floor plans and sections and elevations in response to a set of requirements for a space, this is an example of how a drawing may be used in a dialogue. When a client asks a designer to develop an alternative to an already existing arrangement of rooms and spaces the client is asking, or demanding as the case may be, the designer enters into a dialogue with the client about potential design options. If the student does what is asked, the student will arrive in studio with a set of floor plans and sections and elevations and the student and the instructor will discuss the relative merits of each plan. The next step in the process, whether we are talking about a client/designer relationship or a student/teacher relationship, would be to synthesize the strengths of each of the alternatives and to create an additional set of drawings with additional detail. The synthesis of alternatives is a result of the dialogue facilitated by the drawings developed by the student or the designer.

Early in their studies, students will sometimes respond with diffidence when asked to produce a series of drawings representing multiple approaches to a design problem. There are several reasons for this lack of confidence. First, is that for many students, their experience in school has not included the opportunity to present an original idea. Second, is that students with prior drawing experience often arrive with experience drawing from observation rather than experience drawing from the imagination. Third, is that students are typically not well-versed in 3 dimensional visual systems, and fourth, is that students are trained to think that there are right and wrong answers to simplistic questions rather than to develop multiple answers to complex problems, with each answer having its relative merits and deficiencies.

By addressing each of these four issues in the culture of the design studio students will develop their drawing skills in line with their conceptual and intellectual development, and will learn to engage others in dialogue through drawing.
In order for students to master the skill of drawing dialogically, they must learn to draw with confidence if not with aggression, they will need to learn to draw from what is in their mind’s eye, they will need to learn the fundamentals of perspectival drawing, and they will need to develop the capacity to discuss their work with a sense of detachment without loosing a sense of passion for their work.

This presentation will show examples of student work that evolves from timidity to confidence, student work that represents drawing from the imagination rather than from observation, student work that shows common mistakes in three dimensional representation, and drawings that show a capacity for dialogue.