[a] Drawing nematodes with the aid of a Leica Microscope, Darwin Centre, Natural History Museum

[b] Anisoptera and magnifying glass, Angela Marmot Centre, Natural History Museum

[c] Drawing Fungi specimen directly on to copper plate, Mycology Department, Kew Gardens

[d] Drawing dendritic copper from the private mineral collection of Courtenay Smale, Cornwall.

Gemma Anderson drawing Gemma Anderson photo
Gemma Anderson photo Gemma Anderson drawing photo

The Drawing Process

1 Observation

Permission to draw and handle each specimen enables close observation, revealing unexpected comparisons of form. Observational drawing involves hand-eye coordination, analysis, delineation, abstraction, improvisation, collage and deep concentration. Perception of the object is a process of transition from experience to judgement, insight to application.

2 Trained Judgement

Concentrated observation within the act of drawing creates new perceptual knowledge. The morphology is observed in detail – activating the process of comparison. Each form observed joins a bank of knowledge in the observer’s mind and each new drawing experience triggers a different formal memory stored in this bank. Each drawing adds value to each drawing previously made, and vice versa.

3 Abstraction

A necessary process of abstraction occurs during the observational drawing process. All knowledge of the object and its conventional context and name are forgotten; what is left is an involvement in the form of the specimen. The concentration shifts from drawing the whole to drawing a series of parts. This process, which concentrates on form, trains the artist to abstract: to draw and to play with the form, eventually without observing the object and thus entering a new realm of understanding.