Drawing Thought: How Drawing Helps Us Observe, Discover, and Invent | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Drawing Thought: How Drawing Helps Us Observe, Discover, and Invent

Drawing Thought: How Drawing Helps Us Observe, Discover, and Invent
Andrea Kantrowitz

The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2022
192 pp., illus. col. Paper $28.95
ISBN: 978062544320.

Reviewed by: 
George Shortess
February 2023

This is a wonderful book. However, when I first looked it over, I had my doubts, mainly because it has these dominating drawings and is without the standard margin format. I wondered why The MIT Press would publish such a book. But after going through only a few pages, I realized that I had a very unique and special book that would help people understand basic drawing techniques and use drawing as a tool for a very visual approach to thinking. The dominating drawings help the process along.

This is a book by an artist who is committed to understanding drawing not only as a way to represent reality or develop abstract designs but, like language, as a tool for thinking and for understanding ourselves and the world around us. Both of these aspects of drawing are merged and interwoven as the author discusses the technical aspects of drawing. She not only uses her own practical experiences as an artist and teacher (and those of other artists and teachers) but supports these experiences with research findings from cognitive science. All this is done in a very engaging way.

In the beginning of the book there is a discussion of the early development of cave drawing and a very good nontechnical description of the anatomy and function of the human nervous system, emphasizing visual and higher cognitive processes. Included here also are considerations of the roles of emotions in drawing and the nature of perception. This is followed by the presentation of more specific how-to-draw information including perspective in its various forms, shapes, faces, spaces, points of view, position, and related topics. However, she points out that given the various ways available now to capture images, such as with cellphones, it may be more important to draw to learn rather than learn to draw.

Throughout all of this there are suggested exercises that illustrate an idea or a technique for helping to achieve a desired result, plus a supplementary section of notes and references for further study.

The book would be very suitable not only for use in drawing courses in an art curriculum, but in an engineering curriculum or an interdisciplinary program where innovative thinking is encouraged.

But even beyond these more specific uses, anybody who wants an interesting and stimulating experience, could find working through the book, a worthwhile adventure.