2.3 Turning words into pictures

The brief

We were asked to choose words from a pre-defined list and use these to draw everything that comes to mind without using reference materials. The purpose of the exercise was not to create accurate or pretty drawings but to use the process as a visual brainstorm.

We were asked to be conscious of the details of each subject or object and to communicate its qualities and function.

The objective was to use this visual brainstorm to access the right-hand side of the brain that perceives things holistically as patterns and pictures unlike the left side which verbal, rational and breaks problems up using logic.

My approach

I chose the following words:

  • Kitchen
  • Destruction
  • Exotic
  • Wild

I noticed that my approach to the drawings became more refined as I worked through each.

The sketches

The drawings are presented in the order in which they were made, and I’ve included a short description of my process and observations of each.

Sketch 1 – Kitchen

I allowed myself 1-hour to complete this drawing. In hindsight, I started with the subject that was most familiar and easy for me to draw from memory. The drawings are a series of individual pictures and not a whole. I seem to have been more concerned about appearance than letting go and accessing my more creative right-side.


Sketch 2 – Destruction

I allowed myself 1-hour to complete this drawing. After reflecting on the kitchen sketches I felt like I needed to ‘let go’ and have some fun with the material I was working with. Destruction for me is a much more abstract concept and I didn’t have any preconceived idea about the image. My starting point was to think of news footage of a hurricane making landfall and smashing huge waves against a sea wall. The rest of the image flowed from there. I had a range of materials to hand as used pen and ink, Letraset coloured pens, coloured ink, Conte crayon and black marker pens.


Sketch 3 – Exotic

I aimed to complete this image in 1-hour but ended up taking twice that much. ‘Exotic’ is another abstract concept and again I just started with the peacock and let the image suggest itself. On reflection, I’m sure there are Freudian references in here or at the very least an unconscious nod towards the biblical story of Adam and Eve.


Sketch 4 – Wild

I had the most fun with this word and probably took it further than I needed to for the exercise. ‘Wild’ is another abstract concept and my starting point was to think of a thicket of brambles in the dead of night. My idea was to use the sharp thorns, contorted shapes of the trees and branches and dramatic lighting to give drama and meaning to the picture.

As the picture unfolded I became more interested in finding out whether I could create a convincing night-time scene contrasting deep blacks against the brightness of a full moon. So overall I think I achieved an interesting result although it’s not as ‘wild’ as it could be if I’d remained focused on the original brief.


What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I felt I progressed my understanding of what the brief was trying to get at with each new drawing.
  • The exercise did allow me to generate new unexpected ideas.
  • I enjoyed working with the materials in ‘Destruction’. I think the random ink effects are interesting and something I want to explore further.
  • I’m pleased by the ‘Wild’ illustration because for me it does successfully start to convey a feeling/atmosphere/meaning that is quite subtle.

What I would do differently/better

  • It would be interesting to have a second go at ‘Kitchen’ based on the understanding I’ve arrived at from doing the other drawings. The image would be completely different.
  • I could have used a wider range of materials for my final two drawings.



%d bloggers like this: