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An afternoon's drawing with Ruskin

  • Manchester Metropolitan University Grosvenor Building, Cavendish St Manchester, M15 6BR United Kingdom (map)

Location: Grosvenor Building, Room G20 (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Artist and workshop facilitator: Doris Rohr  | Tickets: £5 | BOOK HERE

Children aged 12+ but must be accompanied by an adult (1 adult per child)

This workshop is combining Ruskin’s approach to drawing from observation with experimental and multi-sensory playful activities exploring sound, touch and sight. No previous experience necessary. Some materials provided, but you may want to bring your own (see list at bottom of long description). Please bring a pebble or stone or mineral from your own personal collection!

An afternoon's drawing with Ruskin  

“Go out into your garden, or into the road, and pick up the first round or oval stone you can find […] if you can draw that stone, you can draw anything; I mean, anything that is drawable. Many things (sea foam, for instance) cannot be drawn at all, only the idea of them more or less suggested; but if you can draw the stone rightly, everything within reach of art is also within yours.” (John Ruskin The Elements of Drawing 1857 in Works XV, p 48) 

Drawing is a form of looking and a means of thinking. Drawing from observation is not restricted to the eyes alone, as the act of looking is combined with other sensory impressions. So when we draw from a pebble, a shell, or a living organism, like a flower, animal or human, and when we draw the landscapes surrounding us, many sensory impressions work together in helping us translate into a drawing or a painting. The sounds of birds, the rustling of the wind, mechanical noises like cars, tractors, the atmospheric changes in the air, pressure, wind, moisture, rain, sun and light, the texture of a surface when handling an object, all these combine to varying degrees when working from life or still life. This makes drawing a very different exercise from drawing from photos, or other viewfinders like the Claude glass or Camera obscura used in the past to compress space into a two dimensional composition. 

No one knew this better than John Ruskin. He was also aware that drawing is not something reserved to artists, but is a fundamental educational tool to help us see more profoundly, to understand and appreciate the world of nature and culture, clouds, trees, plants, flowers, rocks and mineral as much as architecture, painting, sculpture and the human form. Ruskin proposes drawing as a perceptive tool, holistically combining the science of accurate observation with imagination, moreover with awe and respect for creation. This dialogue with what we see, or rather perceive, is deepened through the meditative act of drawing. In an age of rapid transition, of multi-media images and dissonance of time and place through mobile and digital devices, moments to slow down and to fully and meditatively immerse ourselves with doing one thing at a time have become precious and increasingly rare. The popularity of colouring in books (mindfulness) attests to this. Yet Ruskin knew that we can do better than filling in other people’s outlines – we all have the ability to look and to translate this looking into our own visual language of drawing. We can be mindful and skilful and creative, drawing our own vision and versions of the world.

 Some materials are provided, but please feel free to bring:

  • sketchbook, preferred papers

  • your own preferred drawing tools or media

  • a bottle of water and containers, a plate or saucer (enamel or porcelain- for mixing colours)

  • brushes, paints (gouache, acrylic or watercolour, no oil please)

  • dry drawing and painting tools;

  • plants, flowers, small portable objects, (some of these should be natural rather than man-made, but a mixture of objects is welcome). We will also provide objects to draw from.

  • Please bring a pebble or stone or mineral from your own personal collection!

Earlier Event: July 18
Drawing Democracy
Later Event: July 24
Family Crafts: Cloud Observation