Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Experiencing Africa through drawing.

During the four weeks of October, Sylvia and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary, by journeying in a truck across Southern Africa. We covered 3200 miles, with numerous additional safari trips. Deserts, mountains, canyons and vast saltpans presented flora, fauna and landscape experiences which Sylvia recorded with her camera.
I had with me an A5 sketch book and some fine-liner pens. I wanted to put into practice the philosophy of Frederick Franck whose book 'Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing' which is all about how drawing can help one go beyond what one is looking at. Drawing can help you to see what you are looking at to the point at which the experience you are having enters the drawing. Feeling or emotion enters into the process of looking and making marks on the paper.
Of course, as an architect I have always drawn, but carrying a sketch book was a rare occurance after my days of student travelling to visit Europe's great architecture. But now my recent life-drawing journey has given me a confidence to 'draw in public', and Franck's writings are convincing evidence that the process of drawing helps one engage so much more with the world around us. He also shows that drawings can be simple, a few lines, perhaps a touch of tonal work. Not much is needed to help one see.

Frederick Franck, 'Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing: meditation in action'.  Bantem Books, 1993. Also author of 'The Zen of Seeing'

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