Drawing vs. Painting: FIGHT!
Ed Note: I’m just back from the UQAM life drawing intensive. And I promised to show you the results – but! I’m quite busy getting ready for painting in Ireland and the UK. (Leaving in a few days!). So I’m going to leave that hanging, and start you off on some automated posts that will go up over the weeks we’re away.
Let’s launch with a post I wrote a while back, and never knew quite when to release on the world. This seems like a good time – as I head off to the USK symposium. I’ll be talking to a lot of people about the different value of drawing vs. painting in the coming days!
Hey there dear reader :)
I’ve been trying to articulate an idea for a while now.
It goes something like this:
Drawings should be drawings, paintings should be paintings.
By that I mean: pen & ink line work, if you’re going to bother to do it, should stand on its own strengths, rather than being seen as a preparation for color.
Don’t get me wrong – I do a lot of tinted sketches (the ‘perfect marriage’ of ink and watercolor). So who am I to talk?
But here’s the train of thought:
When you do a line drawing with the plan of tinting it later, it’s always tempting to make it the most efficient, the most economical drawing you can possibly make.
But if you take that as true, then it leads you to not even drawing in ink at all.
Why not just draw in pencil? It’s faster, and the lighter lines are even less intrusive to the painting.
Any contrast you might sacrifice by skipping the ink – you can get back by including deep pigments like Bloodstone, Perlyne Green or Indigo. Any of the various alternatives to black I have on my watercolor palette. I’m recently trying Neutral Tint for yet another black alternative.
And if you take that even further, you realize you can just paint without any under drawing at all.
After all – the edges of every shape are lines in their own right. There’s no need to outline every form – just use the reserved white, or the light-against-dark contrasting edge, and follow up with some calligraphic work with a rigger.
It starts to sound like, if you’re good enough with the brush, you’ve surpassed the usefulness of drawing.
Because, at the end of the day – I just LIKE drawing!
I love the instantaneous stylization of reality. I love the aggressive mark-making. Every fidget and twitch of the hand is boldly visible in a drawing. And I love the way a drawing has to be read. Has to be interpreted by the reader.
I’ve said before, a drawing is poetry, where painting is prose.
I’m not going to make any rash decisions – like swearing off tinting drawings.
Well maybe I will for a while.
Everything goes in phases. But I still need to keep it in reserve for challenging situations.
Draw now / paint later is still the best way to get results when you’re pressed for time and the final presentation matters.
I suppose my main take away is that there’s still a long ways to go towards the mastery of ink – towards even greater range of expression – more interesting marks.
Even as my painting evolves in parallel.
Right now we are packing our bags for a month long painting trip. I hope to have more definitive things to say on this topic when I get back. So stay tuned, and I’ll be haunting your comments from our hotel wifi.