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Appendix 1: Survey Results

The following are responses to a survey conducted of faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The survey consisted of one question: why do we draw? Participants (who gave their consent to having their responses used in this thesis by responding) were asked to answer the question in any way they wished, and to include their area of expertise or discipline.


1. | For me, and for others, this is what I assume:

It is a method of emotional release. Drawing offers a vehicle for human expression, emotion, desire, deviance, and CATHARSIS. There you go, Drawing is cathartic. I have nothing else to say regarding this matter. Thank you.

- Sociology, Religion and Aesthetics


2. | We draw to convey a message that words alone cannot send. In my profession I draw to illustrate concepts, to show where and how lesions occur, to follow the flow of blood from one chamber of the heart to another, to show how a lesion in one segment of the spinal cord affects areas upstream and downstream from the lesion. We draw to demonstrate what a specimen looked like before we trimmed it into cassettes. We draw to show where sections of the tissue came from.

We draw because our descriptive techniques are inadequate.

My son draws because he can tell a story better through pictures than words.

- Veterinary Pathology


3. | I draw to simplify concepts.

I teach pharmacology and use line drawings to explain quantitative dose-response, dose-response using qualitative values, potency, efficacy, drug interactions, time for removal of drug from the body by zero order and first order kinetics, single and multi-compartment models of drug distribution, why different routes of administration or different pharmaceutical preparations of the same drug can cause different effects, the autonomic nervous system receptors and transmitters, etc.

- Pharmacology


4. | pleasure, esthetics, visualization, presentation, representation, ideas, doodling, to inform, to teach, to explain, to show ...

- Veterinary Medicine


5. | Why do we as humans draw: expression, to capture what we see, to help explain to others what we see

Why do we as microbiologists draw: to help explain to others what we see under the microscope; to help explain complex biological phenomenon related to how things work

Why do I draw: see all of the above

- Microbiology/Veterinary Medicine/Human Medicine


6. | Humans are visual animals. Our vision is better than almost any other species, certainly better than any non-primate species, except perhaps some birds. Our brains have extensive capabilities for image processing and recording. We draw because when we make a visual representation of an object we are internalizing it into our visual imaging “data bank” and abstracting from the reality of the object those salient features that are “important” to us in fixing the image in memory. Pattern recognition and visual memory are crucial skills for survival: a poisonous plant may look like an edible one, and it’s obviously important to know what predators and prey look like; with whom to mate and with whom to fight. The one thing about humans that makes them human, as much so as opposable thumbs, is the huge amount of brain power devoted to visual recognition and visual processing. We have lousy noses and not such good hearing, but our sight is the most sensitive tool we have for exploring the environment and reacting to it.


I teach histology, a VERY visual discipline, and tell my students that they’re developing their pattern recognition skills more than anything else. I have developed my entire course curriculum around this concept, and am constantly stressing it. I tell them they need to draw what they see because in doing so they internalize and idealize the real and create that image memory they must have for studying pathology and medicine. Drawing is the fastest and most efficient way to do this because it integrates the sense of vision with that of touch; and because a student who copies a picture or a microscope slide is thinking about what he sees, and translating it into symbolic representations that will aid in recall and recognition when it is next encountered. I can’t stress too much the importance of visual recognition in my field and the value of drawing to enhance that skill.


7. | I draw to focus on something that I like - to “feel” it. I draw to capture my feelings. I draw to understand things. I draw to work out ideas that are bouncing round in my head.

I take great pleasure in creating an image of something real or imaginary. It may be for no one, it may be for me, it may be a way to present an idea.

I draw with pencils, pen, paint, thread, fabric and plants. My gardens are my three dimensional drawings. I love to absorb the colors, the textures, the smells, the changing appearance during the day, and day to day.

If I had the talent, I would be in the visual arts.

- Veterinary Clinical Pathology


8. | As a veterinary ophthalmologist, I constantly draw figures for clients and students to illustrate points concerning how the eye works, what kind of pathology is present, and what surgery to correct a condition involves.

I am an extremely “visual” person. Give me a map and 

compass, you can have your GPS units. Give me an illustrated set of instructions (or just an exploded image of something), and I will conquer the world.

A bit old fashioned, I still like my KodaChrome ASA 64 slides, not the grainy fake looking digital Power Point images that students “demand” of teachers.

I could live deaf, but blind, I would be in a real mess.

- Veterinary Ophthalmology


9. | I am a veterinarian who works on companion animals (cats & dogs mainly).

I use drawings to help explain or demonstrate a process. Sometimes it is a useful way to present something that replaces in a quick way what hundreds of words would be needed to do. I am a firm believer in the adage “A Picture is worth 1000 words”.

I think as a child, I did it to express my imagination, and it was great entertainment. The human mind is capable of amazing things, and to draw something we visualize in our head is unique to humans.


10. | I think we draw because we want to visually represent or capture the world--to make it less abstract. I also think that drawing is a way of knowing something deeply. You have to study the human body, its underlying muscle and skeletal structure, to understand the ripples of skin. You have to know the life cycle of a peony to illustrate its full bloom. So drawing is a way of seeing. A vision of how we interact with the world.

MFA nonfiction--creative writing


11. | Boredom during meetings.

- Professor and economist.


12. | I draw in order to teach or demonstrate a concept to others. Drawing is not a primary activity in my teaching. I am an instructor and I teach nutrition to upper level nutrition students and facilitate learning through arranging practical internship experiences. I am also a registered dietitian.


13. | My area of expertise is molecular biology, plant biotechnology


1. In the classroom, I use drawing as a method to illustrate concepts. Complex concepts, mechanisms and scientific material are most often more clearly transmitted through the use of visualization rather than words.


2. I draw (doodle) when I am bored sitting in meetings, usually geometric shapes just to past the time. I have no artistic ability what-so-ever and consequently don’t draw for any aesthetic reasons.

3. When my kids were little I would draw with them just for entertainment, but drawing is also a valuable learning tool in that setting.


14. | We draw to express immediate feelings or to reflect on feelings from the past or connections between the two.

We draw to document...our thinking, our process, our actions, our beliefs, our culture or heritage, our connections to other living and non-living things.

We draw to share who we are with someone we care about.

We draw to share a topic for which we have passion to another or groups of others.

We draw for fun, for liberation, for expression and to share beauty, noticings, or metaphors of life.

We draw to communicate.

We draw to make a statement.

We draw to leave a mark of our existence.

It’s therapeutic :)


15. | I work in agricultural research. Many times I need to draw to communicate to someone else the design of a system to be installed, or what a piece of equipment looks like that I do not know the name of (or can’t remember the name). So I would say I draw primarily for communication. Secondly, I draw when I am on telephone conference calls or during meetings as a way to keep my brain engaged and to prevent boredom from meetings that seem to have no end.


16. | To more clearly illustrate points in teaching.


17. | In science we draw models in an attempt to find relationships and/or visualize how different, sometimes abstract, pieces fit together. Many times it helps us think of new connections and synthesize new ideas.

Profession = molecular biologist


18. | I draw for a number of reasons. Sometimes I draw to relax (usually doodling) or while I am thinking deeply about something. Sometimes I draw as an aid in conversation with someone, often to show my perceptions of the relationships between things or people or both, but also to show my understanding of what someone might be telling me. Sometimes I draw for myself--to help myself understand or process information. Sometimes I draw just for a creative outlet, but this is fairly rare---once or twice a year.

I work for Virginia Cooperative Extension -- my expertise is in nutrition and health. My primary role is to develop educational programs that teach Virginians health eating and physical activity habits.


19. | to express ourselves, or a concept, in a visual way

Agricultural and Applied Economics


20. | I draw to convey ideas to students and clients. Visualizations of molecules, compounds, as well as data such as plant growth responses to nutrients can (many times) be 

more easily comprehended through a drawing. Also, the drawing does not have to very good, and in fact, many times people appreciate that one is willing to try to draw in order to get an idea across.

Good luck with your survey. I am certain that it will be interesting.

Plant nutrition and crop management (Agronomy)


21. | As a person I draw because it allows for an escape. I can draw a place I have been or a place I have only imagined. I can draw to take me away from the boredom of a meeting or I can draw to explain a point.


22. | To better conceptualize and develop concepts.

To record observations.

To transfer knowledge.

Cause I’m bored at meetings.

Biological Systems Engineering


23. | I think it is part of the brain process. Our brain thinks, acts, synthesizes, and produces information or materials. It is the end product of visualization, which creates the dramatic effect as seen in the real world. In my field (Plant Pathology), scientist draw mainly to share the information or facts or research findings to other colleagues. Children draw to express their feelings, same as writing. A great picture is equal to 1000 words, means one can express several messages from a single picture, so I think people want to make their visualized feelings into a form of art and that is why people tend to draw.


24. | I used to doodle while listening to the teachers (it started in elementary school and continued throughout the grad school). It was like a drug - I was addicted to it and couldn’t stop and it wasn’t just that I was bored and I needed to challenge my mind. I guess I needed to employ my hands in some way and express my subconcious thoughts.

They say picture is worth more than a thousands words or something like that. Most people seem to perceive a graphic form better than text or numeric forms. I belong to those people - I prefer to look at a graph rather than a giant table of data. Explaining concepts via figures/pictures is more efficient than using just the text/words.

Then there’s the whole idea of many forms of art - drawings, paintings, and sculptures that represent different ways of expressing peoples feelings, moods, states of mind... We get to think about life etc. and analyze/overanalyze our situation in life, feelings, etc. Whether there is the talent or not, drawing or other forms of visual art help people to unload their feelings. Some people need it more than others.

I’m a plant biochemist, Assistant Professor


25. | I am a scientist-biochemist/molecular biologist.

I draw to clarify what I am saying to myself or others, to help me remember something important later, sometimes to express what I cannot say or to express even more than I could say with words.

I also draw when I am bored with what someone else is saying and need something else for my brain to focus on.


26. | I draw to clarify things to others and in my mind. So I can see the relationships between things. I am a scientist and work with a lot of data. Drawing helps to clarify what the numbers are showing us. I also draw for relaxation when on vacation. I do not draw very well. I also draw funny pictures to amuse my kids. My profession is Forestry. I draw pictures to explain concepts to students.


27. | In my discipline (plant pathology) I primarily draw to record structures of microbes, their measurements, shape, etc.


28. | I sketch to represent a concept or idea graphically, so as to visualize it and understand it more.

I doodle to pass the time in a meeting, perhaps so that I’m doing something besides listening.

I “try” to draw to be creative when working on a craft project.

I actually don’t draw too much because I don’t think I’m good at it. I never had drawing lessons during adulthood, and I’m not naturally inclined.


29. | To express ourselves.


30. | Creative expression is as human an activity as eating or making love. It is something almost everyone can do, from a very early age to a very advanced age. It is satisfying and allows for infinite variety. At its most basic level, it is “effectance”--look what I’ve done!

On a more mundane level, I draw when I’m bored, during meetings!

I am a communicator by profession. (Writer)


31. | We draw, as a way to communicate.

Profession: scientist.


32. | To communicate or express ideas or information.

Professor of Horticulture and Extension Nursery Specialist


33. | To illustrate ideas to others. To visually get an idea of scale and proportion. I am a research associate by profession.


34. | I draw for a number of reasons.

1. To communicate information and ideas

2. To formulate how things interact in space with each other

3. To save a copy of something when I need to remember size, shape, function and interaction

4. Artistic for the purpose of form, beauty, and texture

5. Doodling to make notes, react to something I have seen, heard, felt or thought about.

Academic Background: BS Engineering

Currently an MS student on-line in the College of Agriculture and Life Science

Profession: Engineer CALS Extension


35. | I draw to convey an idea in an alternate form to spoken or written language. Also, I often want a drawing to convey a message to a broad audience or an audience who has limited time to receive my message.

Expertise: food safety, food microbiology, food processing, regulatory affairs

Profession: faculty, food science and technology


36. | While it has been “forever” since I have drawn anything, the first thing that comes to my mind at this stage of my life is to pass the time (ie. boredom) mostly during meetings, phone calls, etc. where attention to the topic has become limited at best. This is more from a “doodling” perspective than a drawing one...

In general, I would guess that many people who draw do so from a creative perspective and for the emotional value that they receive by putting pen/pencil to paper. Whether to share their thoughts and feelings with others or to just express themselves in a personal way that they will keep only to themselves, drawing can provide a release.

Drawing also serves as a way to capture the image of something. People tend to think “beauty” when considering capturing images of something; however, objects that are not “pretty” that people want to remember are also drawn.

With technology as advanced as it is, people don’t seem to draw the way they once did. It’s easier to take a picture than it is to draw one. Whether for time constraint reasons or perhaps just laziness, drawing has become an unfortunate loss over time.

I am considered college administration.


37. | To illustrate concepts in a concise manner and show relationships between those concepts.


38. | Human Development Doctoral Student & Marriage and Family Therapist

1.) We as humans draw for many reasons. I think there is an impulse for creativity from a very early age that some of us engage in more than others. One reason is to capture our environment, another is to escape from it, and still another is to create another one.

2.) Human Development is an Academic social science. The reason we draw in here is to make points as we teach or do research: making charts, brainstorming, and structural equation modeling. We also draw to model theories.

3.) Marriage and Family Therapists draw to help understand connections between family members, families and the environment, etc. We draw to help our clients understand us and to help us understand our clients. Finally, we use drawing as a medium for healing.

4.) I draw for all of these reasons in the first three questions. I also draw because it’s fun and because I am a visual person. I sometimes sketch out art projects that I do whether that be beadwork or pottery.


39. | I am a human development major. I am not what anyone would call an artist. When I draw its usually just doodles done upon a friends hands or on the sides of my notebooks. Almost every time I am on the phone with someone I will be unconsciously drawing shapes and figures. I took some art classes in high school and so sometimes my doodles will be of cones, cans, perfect circles, ect. Drawing is something that is fun for me and I don’t feel the pressure to draw pretty things so I just draw to my heart’s desire.


40. | Make diagrams.


41. | Human Development graduate student

I don’t draw much anymore, except perhaps conceptual models, but I did draw a lot as a child. I drew in order to capture what I saw, in my mind or before me, and/or pay tribute to something beautiful. Sometimes it was completely creative, such as an underwater scene with mermaid. Other times it was completely functional, such as building plans for my tree house. My concept models now could be functional as my tree-house plans, but I don’t typically draw creatively anymore. I stopped drawing that way when I realized that I did not have the skill to truly capture what I saw/wanted to pay tribute to and became frustrated. Photography has since become my outlet for that I think.


42. | I draw for two reasons: practical and inspirational. The practical reasons for drawing often include schematics, or symbolic representations of a room / space so I can determine the location of items I would like to include. Drawing for me, in many ways, is a tool I use to function in the world. I almost always draw for a practical reason. Usually, my drawings are crude and nondescript, but they serve an important function, presenting information to me and others that is hard to put into words.

The inspirational reasons for drawing are to express myself in an artistic fashion. However, I am a horrible artist, so most of my drawings end up looking like a 5 year old’s. Regardless, sometimes I am struck by the inspiration to draw, usually a scenic picture, to express something that I am not getting out in other ways.


43. | To release thoughts and ideas that are difficult to describe in words. As in, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

I use drawing in my work as a therapist in order to get at things that people may have a difficult time explaining verbally. I also think that drawing takes clients to a place hard to reach when just thinking and answering.

Ph.D. Human Development Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy


44. | For creativity, for relaxation, for the ability to present ideas and show others what we are thinking.

Drawing is artistic or technical, or both at the same time.

It displays emotions.

As a human development major, I don’t necessarily use drawing for my profession, but drawing is used in therapy as a way to get clients to express thoughts and emotions in a creative way--a way to express what words cannot. It is also therapeutic in itself. We draw for a sense of relaxation.


45. | My drawing is exclusively functional as a planning and communication tool, either for myself or with others. I do not doodle or do relaxation/pass-the-time-while-waiting kinds of drawings (although I have done some simple cartoons in the past). My field is horticulture with a strong orientation to the science and technical side but having a personal background and 20+ years of teaching responsibility in the artistic side in floral design. In another responsibility area I am involved in landscape design, and from my personal activities I do woodworking as well as home and landscape construction. In each case the drawing may be be considered as technical drawing, whether in simple sketches to help students visualize 3-D images on 2-D media or more involved detail drawings to help me develop furniture style images, estimate component dimensions and materials required, and then plan the assembly methods and sequence. All in B&W except for few occasions when color may add clarity to components in the drawing.

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