<<<< Essay written at the Institute of Education. Feedback welcome

Mythbusting: 'Drawing is a gift': 

Drawing is at the heart of my art practice. Neuro-plasticity, the capacity to create new neural pathways, means that all children and adults have the capacity to learn how to draw. 'I can't draw' is a statement that encapsulates the anxiety many children and adults feel about drawing. I have a developing interest in psychology and neuroscienceand I use this to engage my students in open discussion about the way we are wired to 'see'. Seemingly odd academic exercises like drawing negative spaces encourage the student to draw what they really ‘see’ and therefore bypass the brain’s desire to ‘play safe’ drawing only what they ‘think’ they see. My ambition is not to control the outcome but to encourage student's to explore their full capacity to 'draw' out from the world and respond in a personal, meaningful way. 

I place an enormous emphasis on challenging students through feedback. I encourage reflection, open discussions and collaboration which has been key to motivating students to take responsibility for their learning.  

Drawing in Uncertainties (see essay above left)

Convinced of the negative impact schematic teaching has on art education, I set out at the beginning of the PGCE Teacher Training on a mission. I wanted to write a faultless Observational Drawing Scheme of Work that would instil ‘can do’ problem solving attitudes within every student. As a result, my teaching became militant; insisting students learnt to ‘see’. Suddenly, I found myself dictating new protocols that were just as constraining as rigid drawing schemas that I had been so sceptical of. My academic research left me confused and annoyed by inconsistencies. Instead of tacit and subjective my own drawing process became stilted. My usual ‘flow’ became a distant memory. I ironically gained a fear of drawing and doubted the passion that had originally inspired me.

Therefore, to challenge this developing orthodoxy I returned to one of my placement schools, and for two weeks explored drawing experientially.

Maria Fidelis’ Upper School on Phoenix Road is one of the oldest schools in London. The original nun’s sleeping quarters, now the art department, is crammed with an assortment of objects, pieces, bits, things. The school will probably get knocked down soon.

This drawing experience has been befuddling both visually and conceptually. All in all, I have come to realise that it’s okay to be uncertain about my understanding of academic research and its application. However, I can use it to engage my students in open discussion, in a constant search for truth but with the knowledge that neither they nor I may ever reach it.

(I produced over 50 drawings in this time and will put up some others soon. Photos were taken at the Institute of Education final show).

Drawing in Uncertainties. Essay written at Institute of Education in May 2015. Feedback appreciated.

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Email; art@susannahpal.com

Artist and Educator. Lives and works in London.

2015- present Art, Costume and Fashion teacher at a Media and Communications College in Hertfordshire

2011-2014 Assistant Events Co-ordinator and Life Drawing Tutor at London Drawing

The Drawing Theatre: a creative workshop combining elements of performance and movement, light and sound- fusing theatre and drawing to inspire participants into leaving traditional life drawing at the door and explore the human figure in mixed media compositions. LD works with artists, art galleries and theatre companies.

2009-2013 Part-time Assistant to Naomi Dawson Theatre Production Designer

·       Research, Costume Plots, Model Making, Costume Design Drawings and general administrative duties (Old Vic, Royal Shakespeare Company, Staatstheater, Bury Court Opera, Shared Experience

2009- 2011- TV Stylist Assistant and Dressmaker (Gok's Clothes Roadshow, Take Me Out, Over the Rainbow, So You Think You Can Dance, The X-Factor)

INSTAGRAM : butterz_pencil