Monday, 4 September 2017

Drawing - an all-time favourite

One of the all-time popular posts on Art Matters is Drawing: A thin black line. It is re-published below. 

Whenever I get into a bit of a slump I turn to my drawing materials. Of all the tools, ink is most satisfying to use. There's a decisiveness about making marks that you can't erase.  

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Drawing - a thin black line

Why do we assume that we need a special talent for drawing? Often people profess to have no talent for drawing, saying – “I can’t even draw a straight line”.
When shown that they can draw – they declare that they must have a hidden talent. 

We don’t make that assumption about other talents like reading. What if only those with a special talent could learn to read? The teachers would supply reading materials; not guide or instruct the class for fear of hampering creativity in reading. Then the teacher would sit back and wait to see what would happen. 
The kid says, “How do I read this?” The teacher replies: “Just be free, use your imagination - reading should be fun.” Some of the class would be able to read but the rest would say: “I can’t read – I have no talent”. 

We apply this strange reasoning to teaching art. We are too afraid to instruct for fear of hampering or diminishing the child’s creative spirit.
Drawing is in reality a way of learning how to see. We can learn to hone our powers of observation with the result that almost anyone can learn to draw.

In a previous post, when I was considering all the different types of media I have used over the years, I left out the two simple tools for any artist that have always been used – a lead pencil and an ink pen. I love buying new pens and pencils – I am happiest in an art supply store or even a basic stationery store. I have become addicted to finding new pens that will help me draw better.
 
Pier at Blankenberg
Whenever I traveled anywhere, first into the suitcase would be a sketchbook, pencils, pens and a smallwatercolour box and a brush or two (although I never seemed to get around to adding much colour.)  
Departing ferry, Breskens
 

These sketchbooks became a visual diary, capturing people and places. 
Paging through them takes me back to the experience of different countries more vividly than any photograph album.
 
Ferry Harbour, Breskens

Pen and ink drawing can provide drama, strong contrast and fine detail. The sketch below was done in the Museum Skone Kunst, Antwerp. I came across an artist painting a copy of Fouquet's Maria and Jesus surrounded by Angels, and couldn't resist doing a sketch of her.

 
Sketching the copyist in Antwerp, Belgium
 
Recently, I have experimented with drawing on alternative surfaces such as ink on canvas or on a wooden panel, adding a new dimension to drawing.


Seeds and Leaves 382mm x 760mm  Ink on canvas 
It takes courage to draw in ink – there are no second chances – no way to erase the errors. Instead, one has to really look at the subject, focus on where you want the line to go, and execute it fearlessly with a clean fluid line