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Oh, the Places We've Been!
Reflecting on 30+ drawing lessons, assignments, guest artists, and more.
Special announcement: This week the entire Grown-Ups Table dispatch is open and free for everyone1. Every subscriber - unpaid and supporting - can read and participate in the whole thing, assignment and all. I’m doing this in the hopes that everyone will join me to pause and reflect on how far we have come together at the Grown-Ups Table. It’s farther than you think. I’ve created a fun GUT assignment to help us use our hands to think it all through, and I’m keeping the comments open to everyone for questions and discussion, too. Cool? Cool. Okay, let’s do this.
Oh, the places we’ve been!
We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.
– John Dewey, 1933
It’s temping in a weekly publication like the Grown-Ups Table to keep ploughing ahead, cranking out new stuff all the time to capture people’s interest and keep folks engaged. Input, output, input, output. When we are always focused on the new or on what’s ahead, we forget to pause and reflect on where we’ve been. And if we don’t that, how do we make any meaning of any of it? How do we decide what WE want to do next?
Part of being an artist is maintaining a bit of distance from what’s in front of us. That way we can consciously decide what to focus on, and what to include and what to leave out, and decide on a perspective. Not just what people put in front of us. While our work may always be in conversation with the world around us, we need to continue to strengthen our internal compass so we can choose what direction we want to go in next.
Always respond, never react.
The key to this (I think, and something I am always working on myself) is to pause, and reflect.
Drawing and writing are both great ways to do that.
There’s a big body of evidence around the power of reflection in learning: it deepens our understanding, and creates pathways for future learning (Denton, 2011). So today we are going to look back at our previous lessons, and think through what we’ve learned, what we didn’t understand, what stood out, connections we made, and what we might have overlooked or missed.
But we’ll do it in a fun, very GUT way:
We are going to draw illustrated lists of what we’ve learned.
Super fun, right? Now you also know why there’s all this list art in the dispatch.
We make lists to help us think things through. DRAWING a list goes a step further: it also helps us think through the specifics of each item on the list, go a little deeper into the details. Make connections and observations about the items we might otherwise miss.
The illustrated lists above are from an Smithsonian exhibition that celebrated lists as “as a key to the lives of some of the most celebrated artists of the last two centuries” and the exhibition’s accompanying book titled, “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts.. Other Artists Enumerations from the Smithsonian Archive of American Art.” by Liza Kilwin. My friend Maira Popova wrote a great post of the book.
Below I’ve typed out every GUT dispatch we’ve done (except for a few that don’t lend themselves to this exercise) and linked it to the lesson in case you need a refresher. Maybe you’ve read or drawing a few of the lessons in the list. Or all of them. Or maybe just one! It doesn't matter. Whatever you’ve read or drawn is great - that’s what you’ll be reflecting on. Okay, ready: here comes the formal assignment…
This week we are creating illustrated lists of everything we’ve learned in the GUT thus far. Here’s mine:
I included most lessons, but you don’t have to. You do you.
To help, I made a list of every almost assignment we’ve done2 and linked to the original lesson - see below. For each one that left an impression on you, draw a little picture, doodle or diagram that symbolizes that lesson to you. And each drawing can be tiny, like mine and the ones in the examples above - or go big! Draw them over the course of several pages if you want.
Also words are visual, too. Write if you want to. Whatever you do will help synthesize all you’ve learned and open new pathways for our future adventures.
And I have a hunch you will be shocked by how much you’ve absorbed.
Cool? Cool. Any questions, holler in the comments.
Okay, pencils up. Let’s draw lists.
THE LIST. Everything we’ve learned together:
Drawing Delights inspired by poet Ross Gay
Drawing with Grids inspired by Diego Rivera
Meditative drawing practice: 5 finger drawing inspired by Dr Jud Brewer
Creating a visual story (How to make a drawn story for the NYT)
On Perfectionism and drawing the same thing again and again as an antidote
On Keeping a Sketchbook and many ways to do it
Drawing everyday objects inspired by poet-doctor William Carlos Williams
Drawing Small Gratitudes inspired by
Drawing our pets featuring the best pics of artists and their pets ever
Drawing your POV (holiday edition)
Line Drawing 101 with blind contours
Drawing Meditative Loops inspired by Ruth Asawa (and why drawing matters)
Drawing Advice inspired by Susan O’Malley and Leah Rosenberg
Return to Delights (Same as #1. There can never be too much delight.)
Pause and Reflect with illustrated lists
GUT subscribers, see you in the chat for the community member art share and conversation. And if you haven’t introduced yourself to the community, what are you waiting for? Know someone who you think would love the GUT…?
Ask Me (and Anyone) Anything in the Comments
Q&A and conversation is also key to reflection, So I’ve also left the comments open for everyone to ask questions, share, offer observations, suggestions, etc. I’d love to hear what you feel you’ve learned thus far in DT’s GUT, what you’ve been surprised by or already knew and learned again, things that confused you and you’d like to learn more about, etc. I’ll offer any answers I can, and I hope other GUT members will, too. GUT members are so engaging and encouraging - I love how you all jump in and keep the conversation going long after I’ve gone to bed. Hopefully we can bring that spirit to this dispatch’s comments, too.
DrawTogether Classrooms Launch
It’s almost here!!! Keep your eyes open on Thursday: we will send out a big announcement and links to participate. We have an audacious a goal to reach 10,000 Classrooms. I know we can do it.
Pencils up friends! Everything is better….
DrawTogether and The Grown-Ups Table are 100% reader supported, and made by me, Wendy. If you value it, please help keep it going by subscribing.
GUT subscribers still have exclusive access to this week’s chat where we share our drawings and talk as a group.
I left out a couple, like our Intros page, and the DT Gift guide, etc. but included all substantial drawing lessons.