Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What is a Drawing?

Have entered The Scottish Drawing competition, but am struggling with their definition (gad I hate art speak!) - "Mark making with intent" For the purpose of the competition, a drawing is defined as a representation by means of lines and the arrangement of these lines which determine a particular form. Form being the arrangement of individual shapes and volumes and their relationship depicted in a work of art, whether figurative or abstract as distinct from its subject matter or content. Drawing in any medium is acceptable. (phew!)

The above drawing I decided not to enter, as I felt it was too close to painting, whereas I am entering the drawing from Previous post as well as a more straight forward landscape drawing. Did I make the right decision? I have no idea . . . and will wait and see if I am accepted.

Personally I feel that any work which uses the support as a major element and mainly consists of marks laid down in one layer is a drawing - so I would include the above, and most of my watercolours. They are made with a brush making one mark as I go - so the mark varies in width, but to me it is still a line. Am i nuts? All comments welcome . . .


  1. Oh Jane, I don't think you're nuts at all.

    I'm beginning to wonder if the word drawing is even adequate. Must a drawing be made with dry mediums? Can we use ink? Must the ink be in a pen? Can the ink be on a brush? When does a thick line become a tonal value? How are we drawers allowed to represent tonal value? Or colour? Are we allowed washes? Can the washes be a paint? How thick is it allowed to be? At which ratio of solvent to pigment, and surface area covered would we cross the line into painting? If I draw with oil paint and a thick brush, am I not drawing? Or am I drawing until I fill up the space with more paint? What if I fill up the spaces with graphite, or collage? Does the term mixed media come into play soon after? What does that even mean, a paper and ink and coloured pencil thing mixes media. Are mixed media things not drawings? Are painting and drawing sat upon some sort of see-saw balance where if you add a bit more surface area you tip into a painting? Take it off, and you tip back to a drawing? Making them like sort opposites on some scale. And what about the third dimension? When does a thread drawing become embroidery? Or is all embroidery also drawing? Is a continuous wire drawing that has depth still a drawing? Is everything with a third dimension suddenly a sculpture? Are no sculptures also drawings? Is markmaking any better a word? Or does it attempt to pop a big convenient umbrella over just about any human activity that leaves a trace (so that'll be everything then). And all these questions don't even scratch the surface. Has the word drawing been subject to so much semantic broadening that it has become almost meaningless?

    Thing is, I somehow feel like a drawer, whatever that means. Like drawing is a state of mind, whatever I use. I don't know if I know what it feels like to feel like a painter. I wonder, do you feel like a painter, whatever you're using? (Whatever that means...)


    Apologies for the long-windedness of that ramble, it's been on my mind too rather. Missed you at atyn, hope your shoulder's doing ok.
    I ended up handing in two life drawings to the Scottish Drawing Competition. I'm tired of pretending I don't like, and spend a lot of time and effort, drawing nude people. Just have to see how that goes...

  2. Thanks for the posting, Donna, and I'm quite happy with rambling - after all, I do it a lot, too. This morning I am busy writing newsletters, updating websites and all sorts of similar stuff, so don't have enough brains left to give a proper answer - will do soon. And should be at ATYN on tuesday!

  3. OK, not going to even attempt to answer all those questions - but does labelling something a drawing or not serve any actual purpose?

    Anything done in the life room/on location feels like drawing - mainly I think due to there being more action and less thought. It either works or it doesn't - and this feels like the essence of drawing for me, that immediate response.

    As my landscape got rejected (and this one accepted) I should have done what you did, and handed in what felt right for me rather than what I thought they would want. Bah.