When I reviewed three of Peter Jenny’s books in the Learning to See collection 3 years ago, the books offered great tips for beginners and also serves as great refresher material for more experienced artists.
Three years on, Jenny – professor emeritus and chair of visual design at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland – has come up with another two books to add to the collection: Unlearning to Draw and The Kitchen Art Studio, published by Princeton Architectural Press.
In Unlearning to Draw, the author encourages the use of family photos as the basis for creating new works, as looking at other people’s pictures may be uncomfortable. Through his exercises, he pushes artists to set aside the personal meaning behind these personal photos and find your own meaning behind them instead.
What caught my eye was this quote in the section on “Defamiliarizing the familiar”:
When we blink, what changes is not the distant, but the nearby. Television would have us stop blinking altogether, encouraging us to rely on someone else’s view of the world; but when you take a closer look at your own photos, you will continue to form your own pictures.
Using your own family photographs enables you to experience an added dimension to art-making, as can be seen in the various exercises within the book (22 in all). The idea behind using personal mementos is at once intriguing and haunting – especially when it involves the various emotional memories past. The thought of digging out photographs of my grandparents still make my heart ache, so I’d say this would be a challenge for me (a good one, nonetheless!)
In The Kitchen Art Studio, Jenny turns to the kitchen for new materials; playing with ingredients and opening one’s eyes to the many textures, smells, colours and form that food offers. Much like cooking, art is a process of transformation through experimentation.
The book welcomes the participation of entire senses: eyes, nose, ears, hands and mouths to create new works of art through unexpected, and yet familiar materials. The images within the book is beautiful – an invitation to look closer at our larder (and fridge!) for a universe that exists outside our own.
These two books are excellent addition to the previous three books in the Learning to See series: The Artist’s Eye, Drawing Techniques and Figure Drawing, and are available for purchase via Amazon.
Happy weekend folks!