Methods of gaining knowledge … or: Different ways of drawing something

In science there are two main ways of gaining knowledge about the world: The first one is called inductive reasoning. This means that you observe single aspects or cases and try to generalize from these single cases. A famous example is: Every morning you can see that the sun rises so you can generalize from these single cases that the sun will also rise every morning in the future. You see the parts of something first and then develop from this the big picture. The opposite is called deductive reasoning. In deductive reasoning you have a general theory in mind and observe how the single cases can be fit into this theory. I.e. you have the big picture in mind first and try to make the details fit into it.
In linguistics you can find something very similar. To understand (spoken) language your brain uses two methods of processing the incoming language data. The so called bottom-up processing uses the incoming language data to form something whole of them (for example a sentence, a dialogue, etc). At the same time a second process, top-down processing, uses general knowledge about language and the way it is used to fit the incoming data into a certain skript. This can be for example a telephone dialogue: Because we have done a lot of telephone dialogues already in our lives we know the ‘skript’ of a telephone call. We know when to say hello, goodbye or our name, etc. And this knowledge helps us to understand the language parts which come in and it helps us to predict what will happen next.
This is meant to be an art blog so you may ask: Why the hell is he writing about all of this scientific stuff? I had the idea that in drawing you can distinguish two methods with very similar characteristics. I would call them therefore inductice and deductive drawing.
Deductive drawing is something I have done for a very long time now. It is a drawing method in which you have your general concept in mind and slowly work yourself to the details. For example when you draw a house you start to draw a cube and put a pyramid on it for the roof and then work yourself to the windows and finally the roof tiles.
Inductive drawing is something which I have really just begun recently. It uses blind contour drawing and is based on a close observation. You start drawing a line and then you work yourself from line to line without thinking too much about what you are drawing. Actuallly, the less you think about it the better. Only in the end all the single lines build together (hopefully) something whole (maybe even a house).
Both methods seem to have their advantages and disadvantages. Deductive drawing helps you to really be able to bring your general concept which you might have had in mind when starting with the drawing onto the paper. However, with it, there is always the danger that the concept you have in mind takes over and you neglect close observation. Inductive drawing forces you to closely observe and to draw what you’re really seeing and not what you think you’re seeing. But it can happen that the whole concept is neglected and in the end the lines of your drawing don’t fit together or your composition doesn’t fit onto your paper.
Currently I do a lot of inductive drawing because I feel that it really helps me to learn to see what is in front of me. The picture of the bike below is one of these. As you can see, I lost track of the overall composition and the bike is not fully on the paper. But this is partly due to the fact that I use a sketchbook which is a bit smaller than A5 size. And to be honest – I’ve always had problems to squeeze my drawings into the space of the paper. What can be amazing is how quickly your perception can get wrong. You really have to look carefully to not draw lines to long because you know how long they really are. But this bike is seen a way that there is a heavy foreshortening of all lines and this can be tricky.
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