The aim of drawing should not always be to create a picture.
Why is that so?
Drawing is a way of thinking, drawing is visual thinking. Visual thinking is one of a number of non-verbal forms of thought, such as musical thought, kinaesthetic thought and mathematical thought.
We all think in a range of ways, including visual. For example when driving, playing chess or catching a ball.
Drawing is about visual thinking, making connections, editing ideas and seeking the truth.
Here is a list of some of the reasons I think there are to draw:
One of the best ways to improve your drawing and your visual ideas is to stop thinking and just draw. So don’t think too much, just draw!
What are the reasons for your next drawing?
Drawing is a wonderful way of seeing the world as it is, of responding to the world and of becoming more self aware of how we fit into the world around us.
Drawing is a simple and direct art medium that is a very powerful way to make a great variety of images.
These images can be beautiful, but I do not think that should be the main aim of drawing. It would be better to show reality, subjective reality, as it is to us.
There is a beauty in reality and this reality is not at all the same as just what things look like, or what the world looks like through the lens of a photograph. We must acknowledge that we are looking through our eyes, We are always subjective onlookers to a world that is only described to us through our senses.
Art is in a unique place to allow us to respond to the world in an intuitive and subjective way. But this intuitive and subjective way needs to be based on a sense of curiosity and wonder.
Children are born to draw, to respond to their world. To continue to learn to draw as we get older we need to keep pushing, to continue to be childlike, creative, inventive and curious.
In drawing the quality of the first mark is critical to its success.
Your first mark really does matter!
All the skill an artist processes can be shown in that first single mark. The greatest strength an artist has is their strength of self identity. Each mark made by an artist is the artists signature; this is how artists grow to have an individual style.
Sometimes it is difficult to recognise this quality of style in your own work; it is easier to recognise style in others.
The first mark can be confident or tentative, but most importantly it should be honest.
When you study the sketches of the greatest artists, their unfinished first marks are often equal in power to their final compositions.
You need to feel you own the image you create; that it comes from within you, from your core self. Let creativity just happen.
The first mark must react to the purity of the surface it is placed upon. A mark is a reaction, as well as an action.
Children are naturally playful and creative.
As we become more self aware we can sometimes feel a lack of confidence in our own drawings and in our own ability to be creative.
We start to judge our work in relation to our peers and the art that is already out there.
This is a mistake.
Our art is meaningful because we made it. It is honest and it encapsulates our core self.
We have nothing but ourselves to give.
So how will you make your first mark today?
At its core all great art is simple.
This is because truth is simple. If truth is not simple it is probably not true.
“The art of drawing is the art of omission”
-Max Liebermann 1847-1935
Max Liebermann was a German painter of the Impressionist style
If you make a drawing or painting based on a photograph there is little point in making a copy. A copy of a photograph is not a truth. You already have the true photograph. There is also the truth of the thing that was photographed.
The challenge in art is to edit and interpret what you see, what you think and what you feel.
If you make a drawing or painting from real life, from observation, it is impossible to make a copy of what you see. The visual world is just too complex and layered. The visual world is in three dimensions and you are working with just two. It is full of tones, textures, colours, lights, shadows, forms, lines and meanings.
Furthermore, the reality of what you see is individual to you.
We are faced with an information overload that is constantly accelerating. We intuitively know that our brains can only take in so much visual knowledge.
To be creative we need time to reflect on our own thoughts and observations.
We need time to assimilate the ideas and creations of others. We need to edit. To achieve style you must edit.
The greatest challenge in art is to decide the essence of what you want to say and record. Then you need the discipline to focus on just that. I think this is where individual style comes in. To draw is to think visually.
How can you make more from less?
Tom McPherson's blog on art and creativity.