With so much interest in plein air painting these days, it’s easy to overlook how important drawing skills can be to the landscape painting artist. Fundamentally, drawing is both a way of seeing and a way of knowing a subject. If you can draw it, then you own it. It is in your visual library and can be recalled when needed. But the act and art of drawing goes much deeper than a mere recording process. For the artist, drawing is how we know the world. It is an expression of life and evidence of what we find relevant and recognize as beautiful. The ability to translate that appreciation of beauty into a beautiful drawing is a high art.
|Dancer Tying Her Scarf by Edgar Degas, drawing.|
There is also something wonderful about the tactile sensation of a pencil or crayon dragging across a receptive paper surface. It is a feedback loop, and when one gets very accomplished at drawing techniques, there is a seductive pleasure in making the subtle variations of pressure resulting in the kind of rich tones that serve to create an image. It recalls the simple, untroubled pleasures of our easy drawings from childhood, when each mark we made was a new experiment and a revelation. Our first simple drawings thrilled us because they gave physical form to our imaginations, unfettered by adult expectations or rules of any kind. They were also the one thing that we could make that was truly our own.
We thank the gods for the humble No. 2 pencil–just holding it above a pristine piece of fine drawing paper still gives us that familiar feeling of empowerment and excitement about the worlds we might create.
Keep drawing! We would love to hear from you about your first drawing experiences and if they shaped the artist you’ve become today, so leave a comment below and please stop by The Artist’s Road to read more in-depth articles and interviews with prominent artists.
–John & Ann