What is drawing? Traditionally, it has been regarded as a secondary art — a preparatory stage for painting or sculpture, or a purely technical skill. These notions, however, ignore the vast creative potential of drawing as a means of exploring content, process, and analytical skills. Happily, this potential is now being realized, and drawing is experiencing a massive resurgence in contemporary art and design practice. There are two main reasons for its renewed popularity. First is accessibility. You don't need expensive equipment or materials to make a drawing, and your work can be quick to execute and easy to review and revise. Often, it is the capacity for spontaneous expression — ideas distilled to their very essence — that makes drawing so compelling, but it is
also — conversely — a medium capable of being detailed, elaborate, and expansive. Second is diversity. Drawing practice takes in everything from classical still life drawing and landscape to advanced digital manipulation and abstract expression; it encompasses analytical pencil drawing, gestural charcoal portraiture, as well as exuberant oil pastels that have many of the qualities of oil painting. Indeed, it could be argued that no other form of graphic expression is so versatile. Understanding the wide range of ideas and processes in drawing will help you advance your drawing practice beyond basic ideas and traditional conventions. You will be able to make drawings that are not just competent, but truly interesting.
To make interesting drawings, you must first identify your intentions. What is your subject? How will you draw it? And, perhaps most importantly, why will you draw it? Reflection and research — scouring the world around you for visual inspiration, recording and developing ideas in a sketchbook - are the cornerstones of all revealing work. Once you have decided on your subject and your purpose, you need
to match it with a suitable process. Consider the properties of your subject that you wish to reveal; for example, a simple bunch of flowers has many descriptors, such as natural, colorful, textured, fresh, and ephemeral. Choosing which to explore, and in which media, will give your activity a clear purpose. Try new processes; at first, some will not work, but they will still flex the self-critical part of your brain and help you develop an analytical framework — essential if you are to progress to an advanced level.
The final chapter of this book looks at contemporary devices that allow you to explore content and process in progressive ways — precisely the ways that are expanding the territory of drawing in today's society. What sets these contemporary practices apart from the historic roots of drawing is that there now exists a whole generation of artists for whom drawing is the primary activity. They have revitalized this ancient art, and recaptured the magic of pure, direct imagery in an era when images are ubiquitous and often superfluous.
The aim of this book is to inspire your practice, and give you the means to contribute to the new wave of drawing, but above all to help you enjoy the simple act of making marks on paper.
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