Draw Your Way to Better Woodworking
by David Savage
Most of us use our eyes to avoid bumping into things; we probably are only using 20 percent of our visual ability. I had a student some years ago at Rowden Workshops who had a history in the special forces. “I’ve never drawn in my life,” he said in a deep, dark, threatening voice. Yet within six weeks he was a highly competent draftsman, putting down accurate lines that described what he was looking at. His visual accuracy was trained on the battlefield. He had used his eyes to stay alive.
Twenty Minutes a Day, Four Times a Week for 50 weeks
All of us can learn to draw. We all have the ability. What we need to understand is that to do this as woodworkers we do not need to draw like Leonardo da Vinci. We need to draw just well enough to put the image down.
I ask students to give it 20 minutes of good time per day four days each week, during their time at Rowden. It’s not hard, but it is demanding. Like going to the gym, it gets easier and more rewarding as you do it. It is important but never urgent – so you need to make it a part of your planned day. If you don’t, that urgent sanding or dovetailing will always get done; drawing won’t. Which is stupid.
It’s about making something worth making. You might cut lovely dovetails, but is the piece in proportion? Does it look good? Will someone 100 years from now say, “that’s nice,” or did your piece go in the dumpster 50 years ago? Drawing is about your response to the patterns of nature. Seeing things – really seeing things – not just taking phone shots and putting them on Instagram. Drawing allows you to make better visual judgements when planning your piece of work.
Website: Visit David Savage’s school website and read his blog at finefurnituremaker.com.
Book: Read “Furniture with a Soul,” by David Savage.
Class: Take “Learning to Draw,” a new class at Rowden Workshops.
Blog: See Christopher Schwarz’s pictures from his visit to Rowden Workshops.
To Buy: “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” by Betty Edwards.