Lessons from mountain drawing.

How do you draw a mountain?

When I was growing up in Washington DC, I did not know how to draw it. However, my parents tell me that I started drawing mountains as soon as I moved to South Korea, and they’d be in every illustration I drew. What was different? Education? It was most likely the exposure and experience.


DC landscape is mostly flat. To see any curve of a mountain, you have to drive out 2 hours to see the first glimpse of Shenandoah Valley. On the other hand, over 75% of Korea peninsula is mountains. As a child, I was apparently shocked at what mountains meant having never been exposed to them before. I may have struggled to draw something I have never seen before but as soon as I saw them with my eyes in Korea, I was able to draw them with ease. I still sketch mountains like that as I start to draw.


Studies show this interesting phenomenon in every child. When you ask a child in China to draw mountains, you get a sharp tall mountain scenery.


Ask a child in Korea, and you’ll often get rounded hilly mountains. This reflects their visualization by type of mountains that exist in Korea and China. It’s not their fault for not being able to draw the other types of mountains that also exist. They are just absorbing and expressing what they see and experience.


This makes me wonder how we spend time understanding the world.

How would our learning be different if we focused more on experiential learning instead of memorization?
 

How would our understanding of diversity change if we were exposed to diverse cultures and languages earlier in our lives?
 

Would we be understanding of how everyone’s ‘mountain drawing’ is different when we work in the office? Or that there are various types of mountains? Or that it is not someone’s fault for their inability to draw mountains that they’ve never seen?
 

I’m reminded of this as I look out my window at a DC view where I no longer see the mountain views that I commonly saw in South Korea. 

How would you draw mountains?
 

 

With Love,

Monica Kang