Visual Thinking

Visual Thinking

The following is a short text devised to help new students better understand what we are attempting to do with the new “visual thinking” part of the course here. I hope it gives you too, some idea of what exciting work we are attempting not only for our clients but with our students.

Whatever your background, be you a fully fledged creative, someone who might be more creative but needs to find out or someone who just wants to learn more about woodworking your time will be precious and how you use it will be of paramount importance. Yet I really believe that for all of you there is no more useful way of spending your time than attending the visual thinking series of classes that we run here.

Maybe it would help if I explained this a little more. In order to become a good maker, its necessary to have what I call a really good pair of eyes. That does not mean sharp eyes like a fighter pilot, 20.20 vision is great and we can correct anything short of this with a good pair of spectacles. I mean eyes that function better than the usual day to day manner of helping us to avoid walking into lampposts. I mean eyes that are capable of really seeing and really observing.

You need good eyes as a maker. You need to be able to see a true curve and spot an uncomfortable detail and that isnt about 20/20 vision, its about visual perception. Its about actually seeing more and the best way to improve your visual perception, to increase your capacity for visual thinking, is to attend these classes.

For those of you who see making as a route towards the more visual, the design aspect of making furniture, then visual thinking classes are of paramount importance. When you sit down to create a design, to make a new piece of furniture, a new image, youll be sitting doodling, sketching, thinking with the end of a pencil. You may have done this before, you may feel you know all about it. Even if you have I urge you to come along and do these classes, for even the most skilled prima ballerina will go back and attend class, even the most gifted violinist will practise every day and you never know, you may learn something new.

The object of these classes is to take you to a place in your head which is a place of pure calm and creative thought. When you are there, time will mean nothing. Outside the studio the world can be destroyed by a meteorite, you would not be aware of it, for you would be intently focused on the visual task in hand. A primary object of these classes is to enable you to first of all recognise, then access this place between you ears that the creatives amongst us know about but all of us have the capacity to find and visit.

The more you do this, and the more you become attuned to using a pencil, to making marks, to thinking with the end of a pencil, the more confident you become with this simple tool. The more you will use the facility, the better you will get, I promise you. Carrying a small note book will become a part of what you do and spare moments will be filled with small observations of life around you. As you use the brain eye hand combination what was cumbersome and strenuous will become easier and more natural . Like any activity practice is essential and will pay you back more than you can ever imagine. As the more you will make small drawings in order to externalise visual ideas. The more that happens, the more images you will stash away into your memory banks. In a way the drawings themselves are not the important thing here, what is important is the act of doing it, externalising the image, putting it down on paper. The more you do of this the more images you are internalising, putting down on your hard disc memory system.

This is the key for then it will become easier for you to develop a doodle into a truly original piece of furniture. The more of these images that you have, the greater your reservoir or library of visual images inputted, stored and retrieved through your own personal sensibility, the greater the choice, and variety and personal content to your visual imagery.

Be prepared for these classes to be challenging and at times a little uncomfortable. Why am I doing this? is a valid question, but resistance is often the left brains last last line of defence. If you give yourself these couple of hours to play, to enjoy the idea of making marks just for sake of making marks. Visual work without a function, leading nowhere. Give yourself this opportunity and you will see as the sessions build how your visual perception will be enhanced, will be strengthened and encouraged. For those of you who know it already I can only say, come and do some more, we never know it all and its good to give yourself the gift of a couple of hours of visual playtime.


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.

Looking for our woodworking courses? is the new home of Rowden Atelier Fine Woodworking School.

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.