Drawing as Literacy

Imagine if our grade school teachers had compared our early school essays to the work of Steinbeck or Kerouac and suggested we just give it up for lack of talent.  We would have a crisis of illiteracy on our hands. However, this is essentially the approach we take with drawing in our children’s’ early education – identifying the “talented” ones and dissuading the rest. I have come to believe that drawing is a fundamental form of literacy and a key to unlock creative modes of thinking.

Observe any designer or artist, and it is clear that drawing is essential for stimulating their creative process. When we activate the whole brain, we think all the way around a given challenge and are more likely to tease out new possible directions or solutions. Without the ability to draw, we wouldn’t have developed the three-dimensional thinking needed for tomorrow’s challenges, especially since those challenges will require novel solutions that require a whole lot of creativity to discover.

When students – our future creatives, inventors, innovators and designers – are empowered to use their whole brains to imagine and to make things, they will begin to develop the skills needed to develop creative approaches to the substantial and seemingly intractable challenges that they will face. When it is their turn, they will come to these challenges with a more complete sense of engagement, and an understanding that the chaotic and complex world that they face is theirs to shape.

The good news is that absolutely anyone can be trained to draw. It starts with an understanding that your hand is as unique as your voice, and that you also have your own way of seeing. Add the right tools to the mix - and you are on your way. It’s a little bit like learning to ride a bike – it only takes practice – and eventually you tease out your own style of drawing.

Fueled to make digital creativity more accessible and natural - Adobe has developed a set of digital drawing tools inspired by the good old fashion analog world: Projects Mighty and Napoleon.  By combining the accuracy, expressiveness and immediacy of pen and paper with all the advantages of our digital products, we are confident these physical tools are perfectly suited to the endeavors of the new creative.

You may never draw like da Vinci or Rembrandt, but with practice you will definitely tease out your own style of drawing.  I am certain that, once armed with the necessary tools, you will be motivated and inspired, and that you will start to develop or increase your creative literacy.

Perhaps it’s time to broaden the definition of literacy – to say that the truly literate can read, write AND draw.

If you are at TED this week, please stop by Adobe’s Drawing Lab and find your creative voice.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @michaelgough_

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