Why do we draw?
Here is a first list of reasons for drawing:
- To observe
- To record some real phenomenon, such as a scene or a person’s face
- To play
- To explore, to follow a line
- To think
- To capture some essence of an object being drawn
- To become one with the object being drawn
- To communicate something, for example, an emotion, a mental state, an idea, a thought, an inference, . . .
- To express some prior internal emotion or mental state
- To express some internal emotion or mental state concurrent with drawing, something that arises in the act of drawing
- To invoke some emotion in the drawing
- To provoke some emotion or mental state in the viewer of the drawing
- To inspire viewers to action, as, for example, in political posters or satirical cartoons
- To achieve some internal emotion or mental state by drawing – for instance, to seek to become calm, to seek to enter a trance, to seek to be in the moment
- To better know oneself
- To seek mastery of the skills and arts of drawing, to train oneself in these arts, to undertake a practice (in the Zen sense of that word)
- To pray
- To communicate with non-material (spirit) realms
- To achieve or to progress towards religious salvation
- To provide soteriological guidance to others, as Shitao and his Buddhist contemporaries believed they were doing in China of the early Qing Dynasty (See: Hay 2001).
- To pass the time.
More on drawing-as-thinking here. For comparison, some reflections on the purposes of music here, and on music as thought here.
Jonathan Hay : Shitao: Painting and Modernity in Early Qing China. New York: Cambridge University Press, Research Monograph Series.