Design Drawing: A Conversation with a Spanish Chestnut in Sharjah

By David B. Hewitt.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper sets out to examine the pervasive influence of John Ruskin, the influential 19th century English artist, art critic and social critic, on the teaching of design drawing today. For Ruskin, observational drawing focused learner attention on objectives that bear reference to the cognitive development in design and “raise important issues concerning the way designers work with drawings” (Lawson, 2006). My research began with a preconception that Ruskin’s ‘fine art’ drawing from his formative direct observation phase did not support drawing practice that was appropriate for design. This paper set out to examine whether this preconceived notion holds true by examining the extent to which Ruskin’s theories influenced the teaching movements which followed him. Finally it considers the surprisingly widespread influence of Ruskin’s aesthetic, which lingers in design schools today - and the extent to which Ruskin’s theory on drawing and practice on drawing is appropriate to a design curriculum. The paper concludes that over-emphasis on the representational techniques taught in 19th century England does impede drawing as a generative design experience. In addition, drawing methodology today suffers due to a lack of awareness in design departments about the continuing influence of Ruskinian theory in the teaching of design drawing – theory which carries with it a body of ideology which all too often goes unchallenged.

Keywords: Drawing, Design, Pedagogy, Cognition, Curriculum, Ruskin, Spatial, Visual

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.181-190. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.049MB).

Assoc. Prof. David B. Hewitt

Foundations Coordinator, Design Foundations, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

David Hewitt is the Foundations Coordinator in the School of Architecture and Design at American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. He studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the School of Art and Architecture at Cornell University. In 1978 he emigrated to Ecuador where he worked as a professional artist until 1996. He has won best of show distinctions in critical exhibits in the New York Metropolitan area. His current creative output focuses increasingly on auratic destinations and landscape as architectural remnants of ancient imperialism. He exhibits with two New York galleries, Caelum and FIRST STREET GALLERY. His painting reveals the magical art of show and tell; beside being about the all-important concerns of self-reflection, discourse and creative development, his art has always been about the theatre of real life.


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