The Discovery

In the summer of 1957, I spent many afternoons visiting my mother who was in the hospital for respiratory problems. She had to spend several hours each day inside an oxygen tent. To pass the time, I would take drawing supplies with me and draw while we visited.

    One afternoon I decided to do a portrait of her. (Looking back now, I can imagine just how unenthused she must have been to have her portrait done while sitting in an oxygen tent!) Suddenly a nurse came into the room. She was very professional, very efficient. She never stopped moving as she quickly went from one chore to the next.

    When she came in, she saw that I was drawing and commented: "I see you are drawing. I am a cartoonist myself." At the time, I had great hopes of becoming a cartoonist and I immediately asked her: "How do you get your ideas?" She answered: "Oh, I just draw so fast I can't think." And with that she left the room.

    I stopped what I was doing and sat there stunned! Her words had struck me like a bolt of lightening. I felt like they had been engraved on the inside of my eyelids. I never forgot what she said.
Using DSF

Almost ten years later, I was having great difficulty with my drawing and imagemaking in general. I remembered what that nurse had said. I decided to put it to work to rescue myself from the creative fog I was in. For details about the results of that adventure, check out White Noise.
    For almost 30 years, I have used the DrawSoFastYouCan'tThink method to help my students relax and to accept the beauty of their own unique marks. The method is ideally suited to help eliminate preconceptions about what drawing "should be."
The DSF Method

Here are the specifics of the method I developed. It is very,very simple yet it can be surprisingly effective when practiced regularly and with some degree of discipline.

Preparation- have several easy-to-use markers such as felt tip pens or pencils and an abundance of inexpensive surfaces to draw on.
Execution- without any preconception, plan or goal, simply draw as fast as you can!
Evaluation- check the results. If you see anything that is recognizable such as a face, a sun, a tree, a word, then you are still thinking. Keep doing more and more until you are satsified that you can draw with an empty mind.
Application- once you are able to draw with an empty mind, try introducing a theme or a thought while drawing. Suggested themes to start with: "curving, angular, happy, angry." With time, the themes can become more complex. Eventually you will be drawing anything you want but doing so in a very personal, uncontrived and honest way.
Hints- draw really fast! A useful keyword to remember is "scribbling." Three and four year old children are masters of the method. Start with 30 second timed drawings, gradually shortening the time to 5 seconds or less per drawing.




White Noise