Drawing without words

Angela Brew and Emma Fält

Q: How can we communicate/connect with one another without using words?

We invited 18 art students to a silent drawing party at Art School MAA, Suomenlinna Finland to begin a collective exploration of the power and limits of drawing.

Research interests:

  1. Thinking through drawing
  2. How it feels to be silent and draw together
  3. Effects of imposing limitations on human communication
  4. Insights into origins of verbal language – why we learnt to speak

Do ItYourself – simple instructions for starting

Do Be Do – Silent Drawing Parties

What? 2 day drawing workshop

For who? 1-2 “Party hosts” and 10-15 students/participants

Why? To explore how we can use drawing to communicate and connect with one another without words. Effects of imposing limitations on human communication.Insights into origins of verbal language – why we learnt to speak?

1st day :  Preparing the party with no words

Materials: Big paper or cardboard  (1A), any type of pens, pencils, ink

Methods: Speech, writing, drawing


2-3 hours: Self portrait and identity

  1. Draw self portrait on big paper
  2. Writing words about oneself around the portrait
  3. Turn the paper around and write more words connected
  4. Read the words as “rhythmical poems” and
  5. Discussions about drawings

2-3 hours: Preparing the silent party

  1. Rules & limits: What you can and what you cannot do, needs: food, drinks and materials. Rules for the day: 1. Be silent: This means not using your voice to communicate. 2. Wear a mask* and neutral/dark clothes 3. Use only charcoal 4. Decide beforehand How the group will document the party (whether you take photos, record sounds, write after meetings etc)
  2. * Mask: Everyone creates a plain cardboard mask. You could make it from one color, simple cardboard and make holes for eyes and mouth. The purpose of the mask is to prevent the use of facial expressions while drawing and listening to one and other. If you start feeling very uncomfortable, e.g. with the paper on your face, you can take it of. Please try not to use your eyes, face and gestures to communicate. Focus on the drawing.
  3. Preparing the space: Clean and empty the room for setting the papers. You can set the papers

2nd Day: Party – Drawing Do Be Do

Materials: Big paper rolls to cover the floor and some walls, charcoal and masks

10:00 Everyone is coming to the classroom in silence and preparing themselves to have a party with no words. How do you feel today? Who would you like to connect with? How can you make that happen only by using drawing? You don’t need to draw all the time, remember to breathe. Pay attention to how you are feeling and consider using drawing to express and cope with emotions. Remember to take care of yourself. Bring enough to eat drink and take a break from the room if you need one (but, please maintain silence during your breaks).

10:15 Drawing starts

14:00-15:00 Discussion about the day, your thoughts and feelings.


Discussion and reflecting what happened.

Sharing your feelings, ideas and next party

Please let us know how it went : You could send us some feedback, comments, photos, video or any kind of documents about your drawing sessions!

About our new project at thinking through drawing website:



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