Drawing or painting?

What defines a drawing versus a painting? How do you classify one from the other?  Can we always distinguish between the two? People have been debating this question for years. Obviously, the two are interconnected, and both can be very expressive forms of art. Some artists love the process of drawing, others love the painting process, and there are parts of both that appeal to many artists. For me, drawing is a little more spontaneous and looser; painting takes more planning and decisionmaking. This past week, I found a happy medium using a process that mixes the two.

I confess, not all of my drawings (or paintings) turn out to be exactly how I envision. When good drawings go bad, I find that stopping is a good solution. But sometimes an errant drawing can become the basis for taking a piece in a totally different direction. This drawing started out as a portrait of a woman’s face, but the features weren’t as well-drawn as I wanted, so I decided to turn it into a mixed-media piece.

On top of the drawing I randomly applied a thin layer of colored gesso. On top of the dry gesso, I redrew a new figure using conté crayon. I used oil pastels to accent the figure, and graphite and more conté to add darks to the composition. In some places, I blended the conté and oil pastel using a paper stump, and then etched into it with a metal palette knife. Working on a drawing that I already considered ruined allowed me to engage in a liberating, discover-as-I-go process. The drawing has taken on a more painterly feeling with a definite drawing edge, so for me it was win-win. Next time a drawing isn’t going the way you want, take a chance and mix it up by adding some other mediums. You might be pleased with the results.

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