Drawing is a skill that often becomes sidelined, along with music and dance, as a ‘recreational’ rather than a ‘professional’ activity for all but the most talented individuals, and consequently most school students are discouraged from pursuing it seriously.
What we often forget is that drawing, in conjunction with speech and gesture, is a child’s primary form of communication, long before he learns to read and write. Even in adult life, it is an important means of not only communicating but developing ideas. We frequently recognise that if we can visualise a problem, it can be solved.
I was recently asked by Suncorp in Melbourne to devise a one hour workshop that would give employees a break from their work routine and at the same time encourage them to relax and look at their work from a different perspective. The brief was ‘provide an entertaining session that refers to using the right side of your brain’. Drawing was to be part of the process, but the idea was not to give a drawing lesson as such – it was more about encouraging creativity in the workplace.
I came up with a plan, and tested it out on my sister first. Armed with her cheerful approval, I presented the workshop, just managing to squeeze all the exercises into the allotted hour. There were some interesting results. One member of the group declared herself to be acutely ‘left-brained’, even though she works as a designer. She actually had some very creative ideas, but she had a very idiosyncratic approach to drawing – she performed one of the tasks in the opposite direction to the one she was trying to draw in! It was as if her hand was rebelling against her brain. Another group member had ‘changed hands’ from left to right when he was in 7th grade at school, on his father’s advice. As a result he became an ace cricketer – and his maths skills are pretty special too.
Feedback after the workshop was very positive, but I never found out if the group’s creative performance had noticeably improved that afternoon. Maybe they need a weekly dose of lateral thinking games.
If you’d like to try this workshop out on your work colleagues or your employees, there are more details on the Corporate Workshop page.
The more I look on the internet, the more my findings about drawing as a form of creative stress relief are confirmed. I just came across this article on the ABC Open website. The writer has not only found that drawing has helped him with his work in digital media – it also seems to have improved his physical well-being!