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A Dys-Praxic Sketchbook

A Dys-Praxic Sketchbook (thelearnedpig.com)

I had this link/piece of writing in my ToRead list for more than a year now and i only read it some days ago [edit: i wrote this bit several months ago now]. I can’t tell you what it is really about right now, i can’t tell you i know that i really understood it.
But here you go… And hopefully i’ll manage to read it again another time/another day.

The first paragraphs:

I used to think that the only skill I had was drawing. It was only much later that I realised that it was simply the only skill that I had experienced difficulty in acquiring and yet had not given up on. It was also my only physical skill.

Under most of the circumstances I encountered I had struggled to effectively present myself as one who had fluency and it was only through drawing that I eventually learnt that I could thrive in the breach when fluency breaks down. Drawing has been, for me a succession of failures over time that eventually amounted to a way of maintaining coherence with the world. It was the way I got familiar with the specifics of my own brain, learned my limits and how to push them. In learning to draw I learned how to learn with my body.

It’s taken me a long time to articulate how much I needed this before. It’s not so much that I needed fluency but more that I needed a word for what I had in its place that wasn’t lack. Art teacher and academic Claire Penketh has written:

Dyspraxia is a term used to define difficulties’ with the development of physical coordination related to sensory processing. Definitions are problematic, because of the range of impairments’ that may be experienced and also because of the ways these are defined by a range of agencies. Dyspraxia is identified as a condition that not only affects the coordination and execution of movements but also the planning of movements prior to carrying them out and is independent of an individual’s level of intelligence.”

Perhaps surprisingly — considering how much some ideas about drawing depend on a harmonious relation between the world and our perception and experience of it — a web search for dyspraxia and drawing points at the existence of very few references to critical literature relating to both subjects. Of what can be found, by far the most useful, for my purposes, was the research that Penketh, has outlined in her book, A Clumsy Encounter: Dyspraxia and Drawing, and in Sketchbooks, A Space for Uncertainty, her article in TRACEY, a journal for contemporary drawing. Using observational drawing in formal art education as a specific example, Penketh shows how institutional systems of control can be interrogated by examining how they interact with what she terms the dyspraxic ideal’.


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