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Posts tagged with Writing

A Good Listener
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By Paul Marcus Fuog

As a child I would often find my mum doodling while talking on the phone. Notepads, scraps of paper, napkins and other surfaces were covered in scribbles. They were elaborate, intricate and beautiful, but completely nonsensical. I’ve always assumed that her drawings were an act of boredom and a sign she had lost interest in the conversation–a behaviour that put her listening skills into question.

Fast forward some 30 years and I find myself researching doodling for a project and I’m starting to reconsider my assumptions. Columnist Sue Shellenbarger, in an article written for the Wall Street, writes that ‘recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused.’

Fix and Make holding page

Perhaps my mum’s seemingly absent-minded scribbles were a sign of engagement or at least an attempt to remain engaged. According to a 2009 study in applied cognitive psychology, people who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later. The study suggests that doodling not only helps you remain focused but it also helps you retain information and recall it later. So, it appears my mum was not a terrible listener. She was in fact a good listener demonstrated by the shitstorm of doodles all over the side table where our phone sat.

So when you’re in your next meeting or conversation and you feel yourself drifting off whip out your tool and doodle.

Drawing Without a Trace
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By Paul Marcus Fuog

Willem de Kooning. Untitled. 1966.

I’ve always been fascinated with Willem de Kooning’s ‘Closed-Eyes’ drawings. They feel performative and intuitive. I wanted to find out more about this suite of drawings and while researching, I found an article titled Flying Blind: de Kooning’s ‘Closed-Eye’ Drawings written by Thomas Mitchell. In the article, he sites two essays, With Closed Eyes: De Kooning’s Twist by art historian Richard Shiff and The Legacy of Jackson Pollock by Allan Kaprow to highlight the similarities in the way both authors describe how the two artists split sight and touch, and intellection and spontaneity. Although my fascination for the blind approach to drawing started with Willem de Kooning, it was the quote from Allan Kaprow’s essay on Pollock that inspired me to conduct my own drawing blind experiment.

“We saw in his example the possibility of an astounding freshness, a sort of ecstatic blindness. With the huge canvas placed upon the floor, thus making it difficult for the artist to see the whole or any extension of “parts,” Pollock could truthfully say he was “in” his work”.

Jackson Pollock painting, summer 1950

It was the idea of being ‘in your work’ that really struck me.  A few years back I had a series of personal calamities and I started searching for ways to be more present in the moment. I was seeking experiences that were meditative to keep me in the now. I saw blind drawing as a way of achieving this and I researched a couple of different techniques:

 1. Draw an object while looking at it the entire time. Do not look down at the drawing.

2. Study an object for two minutes. Close your eyes. Draw the object from memory.

I liked the above exercises but found fault with both of them. It was too tempting to look down at the paper with the first approach and too disorientating drawing with my eyes closed with the second approach–both of which distracted me from being in the moment. Trialling them did help me arrive at my own approach.

Do Design Space, State of Design, 2011

Do Design Space, State of Design, 2011

I was interested in being able to see the object and look at the page, but not see what I was drawing, and to achieve this I developed a technique where I used a magnet as my drawing implement. I used the positive side of the magnet to draw the object on the easel, leaving no trace of my drawing on the front side of the paper. The negative side was felt tipped and dipped in ink. It was magnetised to the back side of the easel and moved with the magnet in my hand. It was here, on the back side, that my drawing was revealed, invisible to me. The above videos capture some of my first experiments with this technique.

The resulting drawings are spontaneous and childlike.

This technique of drawing without a trace is something I am continuing to explore…


Melbourne, 33 Peel Street
Collingwood 3066


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