1st Edition

The Phenomenology of Observation Drawing Reflections on an Enduring Practice

By Rose Montgomery-Whicher Copyright 2022
    238 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Based on research, and grounded in experience, this book offers a view into the minds and hearts of people who draw. With technology at our fingertips that allows us to record and share what we see within moments, drawing seems a remarkably slow and difficult way to make an image. And yet, drawing from observation continues to be practiced by professional and amateur artists, a situation that invites the question: What does observation drawing mean in the lives of those who practice it?

    The central chapters of the book explicate the structures of the lived experience of drawing, weaving phenomenological reflections into a narrative about the author drawing her sister on a train. With lively accounts of drawing from hobbyists, art students, contemporary and historical artists, Montgomery-Whicher considers how the act of drawing shapes place, time, the body and relationships with the world and with others. She addresses many facets of drawing, including the connection between drawing and thinking, the range of emotions felt when drawing a person and the experience of digital drawing. Montgomery-Whicher concludes that observation drawing warrants a place in general education as well as in the education of artists. She argues that drawing will continue to thrive because it is a human practice that deepens and enriches our humanity by giving us access to keener perception, greater understanding, empathy and wonder. This book will be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered about the appeal of drawing, including professional and amateur artists, philosophers, and educators.

     Introduction: Practicing phenomenology and drawing

    1. Everyone is a mark-maker

    2. Places: The Predictable and the Unlikely

    3. Time: Holding, Losing, Seeing

    4. Finding Time and Making Time

    5. Drawn into the world

    6. Drawn to others

    7. Withdrawing from others

    8. Drawing with others

    9. The drawing body

    10. The knowing hand

    11. The body as drawn

    12. The drawing as a body

    13. Drawing disembodied

    14. Reflections on Practice

    15. Living with drawing: The pleasures of work


    Rose Montgomery-Whicher is an artist-teacher whose drawings focus on the ephemeral. She has taught students of all ages in gallery, community, and university settings in Canada and England. In addition to a BFA (Queen’s University), she holds a MA (Concordia University) and a PhD (University of Alberta) in Art Education.

    Rose Montgomery-Whicher’s book is an immensely rich and profound account of drawing as a complex human engagement, certainly involving sight, but no less touch, emotion, and multiple dimensions of thought. As someone who has drawn from observation all his life, I was astonished by what I learned about my own practice; as a student of philosophy, I became fascinated by phenomenology, thanks to the author’s clear explanations and vivid, "lived" examples. I therefore recommend this book to drawing practitioners and those who teach drawing at all levels, from beginners to professionals, as well as to readers interested in research on drawing whether from philosophical, psychological, or pedagogical perspectives.

    Seymour Simmons III, Professor of Fine Arts, Emeritus, Winthrop University; author of The Value of Drawing Instruction in the Visual Arts and Across Curricula.

    Drawing is so much more than a way to make pretty pictures to hang on the wall. It is a powerful way of engaging with the world, of understanding one’s own mind and self and history and surrounding. Drawing is a way of living deeper and better. Rose delves deeply into the transformative power making a simple sketch can have, bringing clarity, meaning and insight into the mystery and magic of making art. I love this book!

    Danny Gregory, author of The Creative License and Art Before Breakfast.

    Rose Montgomery-Whicher has done a brilliant job, weaving together her own reflections on drawing with those of other artists, to give us original, fascinating and meaningful insights into the process of drawing. A beautifully written and extremely useful demonstration of phenomenological writing. Practice-based PhDs are relatively new in the UK  and we are still exploring and developing methodologies – this book will be an invaluable resource for research students interested in phenomenological writing.

    Angela Brew, PhD, Brew International Drawing School;  co-Director of Thinking through Drawing