Benefits of Making Art for the Non-Artist: Visual Literacy
Question: Why should I learn to draw if I'm not going to be an artist?
This is the common complaint among those who dread drawing...they are usually the more logical thinker in the crowd, who doesn't see the value of art whatsoever since his or her interests are in "more important subjects".
According to the Visual Teaching Alliance for the Gifted and Talented:
- Approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners. – Mind Tools, 1998
- Although only 10 percent of secondary students are auditory learners, 80 percent of instruction is delivered orally. – University of Illinois Extension, 2009
- The brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text. – 3M Corporation, 2001
- 90 percent of information that comes to the brain is visual. – Hyerle, 2000
- Visual Literacy is the ability to encode (create a visual language) & decode (understand a visual language).
Answer: Everyone should learn how to use drawing as a tool for acquiring knowledge more effectively and to demonstrate it through visual communication. Making fine art and commercial art fulfill the need to develop Visual Literacy in our youth.
In 2017-18, I directed a small group of 10th graders through a weekly homeschool seminar, called Challenge II, through Classical Conversations. Each week students shared what they had learned through engaging discussions, presentations, speeches and debates.
In Biology, drawing diagrams is incredibly useful for learning the anatomy, parts and functions for each class of organisms. Here are my extremely rudimentary drawings, which were purposely drawn this way so that students would not feel intimidated and be inspired to draw better than me, and they did! Because we were skilled at drawing, we were able to draw these diagrams quickly and repeatedly for memorization, as well as struggle through understanding how they work.
Those who write well and think well should learn how to draw well enough so it can help them demonstrate their intelligence and education.
In Social Studies and Foreign Language classes, drawing rudimentary geography maps is extremely helpful in explaining where events took place and to understand the circumstances around them. Below left, a student has drawn of North America from memory. On the right is a map of the Roman Empire that I drew for Latin class, while reading Caesar's Gallic Wars.
In Art History, each student chose one piece of art to study and write a persuasive speech about whether is was "good" art. In the process, they drew a sketch of their chosen pieces to help them observe what was going on in the painting. Here's the sample sketch I drew based on Thomas Cole's "The Oxbow".