Angela Eames/interview

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Seeing Drawing interview with Angela Eames 2001

Article - Simon Townley

“Drawing is a visual thought process”
“Many students want to use a computer but they express a lack of interest in drawing”
“Teaching drawing is about creating the desire to draw”


Art and design students need to be able to draw - no matter what their discipline or field of interest. Report on the creation of a new multimedia package designed to promote drawing as a core skill

A multimedia project to help students extend their drawing abilities is being developed at the London Institute - and will eventually go on sale to educational establishments and the general public world-wide. It is thought to be the first project of its kind anywhere in the world and will be a unique resource. The package will include images to stimulate thought, basic training guides for computer applications such as 3D graphics, and projects which students can use to practice and develop their drawing abilities

Angela Eames, Subject Leader of BA Drawing, at Camberwell College of Arts, is a guiding force behind the project. She teaches drawing - and says the subject is much broader than most people realise. “We run a degree course in drawing - and whereas many people might assume that drawing is limited to marks on paper, it is much more than that. Drawing is everywhere. It’s central to the fine arts, design and craft practice, and the world of media.”

The concept of drawing as visual thought is crucial, not just to art and design, but to countless other disciplines such as engineering, architecture and technology. “As art teachers, we find many students want to use a computer but they express a lack of interest in drawing. In recent years the value of drawing has been questioned. It is hoped that the DVD will allow the user to realise the direct relationship between drawing in the material world and drawing in the electronic world. It’s not just about being able to draw: We have to enable people to think visually. Drawing is a visual thought process. The more you draw, the more you understand about the world around you, be that physical objects in space or virtual reality.”

A unique resource
The end result of the project will be a DVD that can be used in any PC or Macintosh. It will be split into five areas. Each area is being developed by a different art college: Falmouth, Ulster, Ravensbourne, Camberwell and the London College of Fashion, with support from the University of Brighton. Falmouth College of Art considers drawing as visual play, dealing with perception, and concepts such as ‘truth’ and ‘beauty’. One section pays particular attention to how we see colour. Students can gain an understanding of colour mixing on a computer - using the three ‘electronic’ primaries of red, blue and green in place of the ‘real world’ mix of red, yellow and blue. Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication concentrates on drawing as instrument. For example, it provides a basic introduction to the procedures used when modelling three dimensionally on a computer. This section is geared towards understanding drawing in relation to all aspects of three-dimensional design. The London College of Fashion, not surprisingly, focuses on the use of drawing as a tool used within fashion, while the University of Ulster area looks at drawing as a means of developing two and three-dimensional ideas.

A way to explore
Camberwell College of Arts deals with drawing as exploration. It enables the user to consider notions of ‘figure and body’ and ‘objective and subjective’ - or how we perceive the world around us and how we sense through our own bodies. It includes examples of real projects and assignments as given to drawing students at Camberwell. Those using the DVD will be able to try the assignments for themselves - view the work produced by the Camberwell students - and hopefully gain insight into how others have tackled the same challenge. Some significant research is also included in this section - the scientific exploration of memory, cognition, and hand and eye movements through drawing, as well as links to Internet sites providing access to further information and collections of images.

In addition, an innovative ‘tracking” programme is being considered for use on the DVD. The intention is to map the user’s actions as they tour the package - and present the resultant information as a drawing. “In an essentially uniform electronic environment every drawing will be unique,” says Angela. “Every movement you make with the mouse or the keyboard will form part of the drawing you have made. It may not have a direct practical use - but it will help us to explore interactive possibilities, when seeking to provide appropriate projects in the electronic arena.” “The DVD allows you to go wherever you want encouraging curiosity, and crossover between areas, or you can follow a tuition route if you prefer. You can exit the program at any time - so it’s something you can dip into as you wish.”

Launch in 2001
Students at colleges across the country are currently testing the project. Their responses will be used to refine the content, before technical testing begins in January 2001, with the launch date set for June of the same year. An exhibition of work by those who have contributed to the project will coincide with the launch. Angela foresees a global market for the product. It will go on sale to both educational establishments and the general public. “It will be a resource for anyone who is interested in drawing. This is a serious project, pitched at the level of first year BA art and design students,” she says. It is also likely to be controversial. Angela expects some scepticism and even hostility to the project. She anticipates a standard reaction - that a computer cannot teach you to draw. But she hopes people will accept the project for what it is - a means of stimulating thought, encouraging motivation, and promoting drawing. “Teaching drawing, is about creating the desire to draw - and then someone can then follow their own path,” she says. “This is about exploration. It’s about drawing in the 21st century.”

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