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Drawing huh! Why would anybody just do a drawing when they could make a painting?


I don’t do much drawing nowadays. I used to, but I don’t seem to do so anymore. I mean, why would anybody just do a drawing when they could make a painting?

Rembrandt. Self portrait.

Rembrandt. Self portrait.

What’s wrong with drawing is that they usually are in just one colour, monochromatic, whereas making and manipulating colour is so exciting. A pencil drawing is grey. It is like the old days of black and white movies and television.

Pen and ink drawing is messy, and a charcoal drawing is powdery and smudges. Felt-tip gets all over your fingers and bleeds through the paper ruining anything on the other side.

But on the other hand, I suppose drawing is efficient, cheap, and quick. Efficient because anybody can carry a pencil and a sketch-pad. Whereas a painting kit costs a lot more, and requires setting up which takes time and preparation. And a drawing doesn’t take ages to dry.

And how about the price difference? Come to think about it, why do collectors pay so much more for a painting? Why do they pay less for a drawing? Is it because we artists, and art dealers, ask less for a drawing and more for a painting? Or is it because the collecting public actually think that paintings are worth more, and drawings less?

Some interior designers do seem to like drawings. Maybe it is because drawings are usually monochrome. That means that they can fit into many different environs whereas a colour artwork can exclude itself just because it is the wrong colour.

I can’t make a living selling drawings. So a painting is much better.

Wow! That is a quick rant about drawing.

And I am wrong! It is totally unfair and inadequate of course, but I wanted to get it out of my hair.

There is a lot more to drawing and drawings than the above outburst.

The act of drawing, the verb, is where artists think out the design, shape, balance, and essential essence of something that they look at. Our human eyes see things and our human brain processes the visual information. Then something happens! An artist is a person who explores the depths of their visual experience and turns it into a piece of art that captures and shares that for others to experience as well.

Drawings are a basic enough language to allow access for artists into the depths of their subconscious artists mind. And drawing is a simple enough tool for artists use to grab at the fleeting edges of their visual complex experience, and surface with something to share with everybody else. It is like pearl fishing.

Drawings expose the skeleton of the artwork subject. They are quick enough as well. Painting is so confusing in comparison. No wonder artists do drawings.

Now, lets look at some more drawings.

First, how about this by Leonardo? Cute eh?

Leonardo drawing

Leonardo drawing. Cute eh?

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Or how about Hockney? Loads of colour. But is it a drawing?

David Hockney drawing

David Hockney drawing

Exactly, what is a drawing?

From Wikepedia: Drawing is a form of visual art in which a person uses various drawing instruments to mark paper or another two-dimensional medium….

A drawing instrument releases small amount of material onto a surface, leaving a visible mark. The most common support for drawing is paper, although other materials may be used….

Drawing is one of the major forms of expression within the visual arts. It is generally concerned with the marking of lines and areas of tone onto paper/other material, where the accurate representation of the visual world is expressed upon a plane surface.

So, why don’t I do much drawing nowadays? I guess it is just because I do most of my new artwork in the studio where I have paint and canvases, and a set-up, already to hand. A drawing would be a preliminary exploration of an idea. It would not be a finished product that I could sell.

Neither would a monochrome drawing be an image that I would publish as a signed and numbered print. I seem to be known and collected as a maker of colourful images. Most of my success over the last twenty years has been in textural cityscapes in strong colour. Or thick palette knife paintings of cats and kitchens where it is all about paint, paint, paint!

But I used to do drawings. Especially when I was a student. That is where the ‘cheap’ advantage is most crucial. When, and if I am honest with myself and I examine the past, I made quite significant breakthroughs doing drawings. I recall moments when I suddenly realized that I had made an artwork that worked. I had experienced one of those ‘magic moments’, when I did something that surprised me.

I came across an old student-times drawing of mine the other day when I was clearing out a set of drawers. There were loads of old messy student sketches and things. But I like this one. Here it is. It is quite simple. But it did, and still does, something in my visual cortex that is one of the reasons that I am an artist.

Colin Ruffell, Seaside drawing 1960

Colin Ruffell, Seaside drawing 1960

My eyes had been opened. I had just had a Gully Jimson moment where my eyes were peeled. Drawing is quick, and when it works it can blow your mind.

Maybe I should do some more.

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