Thinking On Paper

-By Dan dos Santos

I happened across this wonderful excerpt from a 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' episode the other day, and I found it's sentiment to be really charming and surprisingly insightful as well.

Although the lesson he is trying to teach is ultimately about the importance of creating something, there is another remarkably astute observation within it...

"Now, I wouldn't have made that if I'd just thought about it."

I often times find myself laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about what I'm going to paint. In fact, I was doing this just yesterday thinking about a painting I am going to do for an upcoming gallery show curated by Lauren Panepinto. Although I may come up with a good idea or two, it never compares to the ideas I get when I actually put pencil to paper, and let my thinking happen on the page.

When I am actually drawing, and not just thinking about drawing, I stumble across much more interesting concepts. I use that word, 'stumble', very deliberately, as it often seems to me that the best ideas are accidental and I just happen to be witness to them.

These sort of accidents don't happen the same way when you just think about your work. Drawing out your ideas, good or bad, helps you think of them in a more visual manner instead of just a cerebral/narrative one. I found myself making new connections between visual concepts that seem so obvious in retrospect, yet eluded me when they dwelled only in my head. I see the repetition of shapes more, edges matter more, an empty space feels more tangible, and what I choose NOT to draw becomes just as important as what I choose to include.

The process of physically drawing something engages not only your mind, but your eyes and your hands as well. It seems to me that all of this additional sensory input can't help but to inspire you better than just thought alone.

So I encourage you all, whether you work digitally or traditionally, the next time you are coming up with a concept, pick up a real pencil and do your thinking on the paper, not in your head.