thesis: abstract


From head to hand and beyond: 'thought-image' drawing in sketchbooks.


Situated between embryonic ideas and 'finished' work are thought-image drawings, the
tangible evidence of the exploratory thinking of artists. Often found in sketchbooks, these
drawings are 'becoming-art', precursors to the work exhibited or performed in galleries
and public places. Thought-image drawings are private drawings that reveal the
uncensored hand at play, and hide in the shadows of public discourse. They are too easily
ignored or forgotten, and if they are kept, they are relegated to archives where they
remain, under-utilised. In this study, I explore and establish sketchbooks as dynamic, dual
sites of discovery in which artists encode a plethora of ideas for themselves and for
others, as long as they are saved and shown at some future time.

By developing Gilles Deleuze's and Felix Guattari's 'rhizomatic method of becoming', it
is possible to employ an open-ended approach for the continual gathering and sorting of
data. Similar to the eclectic action of the brain, the nomadic process of the rhizome
assembles disparate knowledge during its trajectory, and pauses or plateaus from time to
time to consider the state of affairs before advancing again. To this end, I critique
discourse around fixed definitions of drawing as 'systems', and track an investigative
path through public archives, private studios and educational institutions. I demonstrate
that sketchbooks contain a collection of possibilities rather than certainties and possess
the potential to reframe ways in which drawing can be thought and taught. Where the
drawing methods found in sketchbooks do not necessarily conform to traditional western
systems, I argue that broader investigation into the diverse styles therein may assist
students to expand their visual oeuvre. The disparate ideas and methods of drawing found
in artists' sketchbooks offer unique opportunities for art and design students to develop
their art/design practice beyond the scope presented by work generally displayed in
public exhibitions.


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