Drawing is at once immediate, and yet takes time. The marks on paper – pencil, crayon, ink, pen – appear instantly, they are real and absolute, but the process as a whole requires us to spend time with our thoughts, memories or experiences as we begin, develop and complete a drawing. Through this duration it is possible for thoughts, realisations or insights to come into knowing. For the researcher it is this way in which drawing can activate thinking and reflecting that offers great methodological potential.
In my research I have used drawing with audiences, both children and adults, to explore and re-visit their experiences of theatre and dance. These are experiences that are intangible, transient and often seem ineffable. They are often extremely affective experiences, known within our bodies in a manner that seems to bypass our knowing minds. Drawing does not offer a panacea to what Brian Massumi terms of ‘autonomy of affect’, nor to what John Carey describes as the impossibility of knowing the aesthetic experiences of others.
However, as a process of doing-thinking drawing is a process that enables research participants to enter into a dialogue with their own experiences, to surface memory, make connections and connect affect to experience to knowing.
Watching Dance, Drawing the Experience and Visual Knowledge, 2010 article in Forum for Modern Languages Studies.
The Young Audience, 2010 book which used drawing to explore children’s experience of theatre.