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Building a Visual Vocabulary

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine recommended this article by Catherine Madden who describes herself as “a Visual Storyteller who connects the dots in order to find clarity in complexity”. After reading it, I looked at her work and I fell in love with her illustrations and diagrams. I spent a lot of time on her website that day and found that she had this amazing course Drawing Data to Visualize Ideas so I decided to enroll. During one of the lessons, she recommended the book Dear Data which I found a little corny but the authors, Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec had this other book that really caught my attention. It is called Observe, Collect, Draw!: A Visual Journal and that’s the reason why I’m writing this post today.

I like to think of myself as a Visual Thinker but the truth is that I only apply the concepts to solving software problems. I have become really good at visualizing abstractions, as long as they have to do with technology but sometimes I lack depth for other subjects and that’s why I decided to buy the book. It was because of a need to learn how to observe and collect data. So after reading the first chapter, I decided to share some of the (very basic) things I have been drawing.

The first part is all about building your own visual vocabulary.

The chapter talks about learning to see from nature, astronomy, and, abstract art followed by exercises to start drawing. Here’s my warm-up:

Using drawings as a way of measuring, for example, a set of spirals using a timer:

Drawing as many dots as you can:

Your pulse (as slanted lines), breath (as circles), and blinks (as U shapes) for three minutes:

Finally, I drew as many variations to these shapes as possible:

I have to admit this has been really therapeutical and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the book is about!