The art of looking

The art of looking

Take art: David Savage has always put a tremendous emphasis on developing the ability to draw.

Logically, it would make sense that all students should be able to sketch the piece they would like to make,  and also make accurate representations of that piece using rulers, compasses and French curves. But David goes further than this. Much, much further.

Rowden has a dedicated, purpose-built art studio used by the students to develop their artistic skills. Here, they take life drawing classes, work on their still life skills with small objects, flowers and the like. The students are encouraged to make rapid sketches, no more than a few minutes, as well as more detailed, considered drawings that may take an hour or more.

Now this might all be bread and cheese to those students with an art at school background, as well as for those that just have a natural inclination towards drawing. But for many, and we include ourselves here, the art of drawing does not come naturally, and gains in the quality of our drawing are hard won.

Why the obsession?

So why the obsession with getting unartistic individuals to work on their art? Because it gets them looking, really looking, at the world around them. It is easy to have a pretty good handle on the world around you without so much as a glance at it. A car’s a car, a stone’s a stone. But spend some time with an easel in front of you, and the desire (or pressure!) to create something worthwhile means you really need to study what is in front of you. Moreover, you need to train your body to translate what you see in three dimensions into lines on paper that represent what you see.

Make this a habit – looking, translating, reproducing – and soon enough you awaken a side of the brain that may well have been dormant for some time. Engage the right side of your brain, let the left side to be quiet, and before you know it the shapes, forms, and surfaces around you become a subconscious library. A library of forms to apply to the design of furniture.

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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It is where you will now find all the information about our renowned fine woodworking courses, our ethos, and why our students go on to do so many great things. This site remains dedicated to the designs and work, of Rowden’s Founder; David Savage. If you are looking for our woodworking courses, please click here.