You know how life can sometimes speed by and at other times crawl along
at a snail’s pace? Well, drawing is that way too. There are drawing
techniques that are incredibly labor intensive and deliberate, then
there are others that are quick and unplanned.
The Savannah College of Art and Design
(SCAD) believes certain artistic skills and techniques are fundamental
for all students, whether these students happen to be filmmakers,
architects, fashion designers, animators, or fine artists. The school’s
approach, therefore, has been to create a core curriculum that all
students are required to fulfill to earn their degree.
There’s one thing and one thing alone that makes for a successful tonal drawing: seeing masses rather than outlines. Lines are for flow charts, architectural blueprints, and driving on the right side of the road. To a certain extent I am kidding—there are some incredible draftsmen who work solely or predominately with line. But when it comes to tonal drawings, I’m not joking—it is an emotive, immediate way to create inspiring art. It is the painter’s way of drawing because it is all about the illusion of mass by putting contrasting values side by side.
In Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Invitation to a Beheading, the
pencil is described as the “enlightened descendant of the index
finger.” That sounds about right, especially considering the pride of
place that artists often afford their pens, brushes, and pencils. For
many artists, however, the jumping-off point for creativity can also be
the surface on which a subject is rendered.
Seeing a painting or drawing progress from beginning to end allows the
finished artwork to be understood as a series of discrete steps leading
to a virtuosic whole. During a recent tour of the Grand Central Academy
(GCA), in New York City, I observed instructor Joshua LaRock developing
a drawing of Michelangelo's marble sculpture Dying Slave, based on a cast bust of the master's sculpture.