Critical Drawing Skills

I’ve been slowly reading through the Walter Isaac biography about Leonardo Da Vinci. A fascinating book. It has made me think more about artistic skills and their importance to our overall ability to tackle complex problems creatively and critically, as well as to better convey those ideas to other people.

The ability to think through a creative output is something not often considered core education.  Artistic skill is looked at with awe by those who don’t have it, but also looked down on as a useless skill by those considering job prospects.  But it is actually one of those skills that can complement other things a lot. Similar to how learning to be a better public speaker or leader can compound the effectiveness of just about any other skill. Artistic skills can be a method for improving your communication that can benefit a wide range of activities, and the underlying perspective skills learned can improve our ability to consciously see subtle details that would otherwise be missed.

In particular these insights have made me think back to some ideas that I have wanted to work on in the past, but couldn’t because I lacked the artistic skills to do them justice.

  • Creating and editing 3D models for things I would want to prototype on my printer without the sculpting skills is an exercise in frustration.
  • Designing a bike I want to make dead-ended at the crude sketch phase. I don’t have the skills to workout the details
  • I have a design for a space launch engineering project, but my sketches are so poor that another person would never be convinced it would work
  • I designed an integrated gearing system and motor for an e-bike, but that is also so poor of a drawing that it’s difficult to understand how it works
  • Several years ago I wanted to build some prototype inflatable furniture that hit a brick wall due to lack of ability to design it, or adequate sewing skills.
  • Weakness in my visual web designs result in only mediocre graphic work that lack sophistication to really stand out.

So I’m breaking out my old learn to draw book and spending some time over the next while trying to build a habit of exercising my ability to sketch. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough of an artist to re-tackle some of those old projects.