Why Do I Draw?

19 Apr 2012

Today was a day spent asking myself questions about my art. Two of the questions I have focused on are:  "Why do I draw?", and "Why do I draw what I draw?"

The copy of a Prud'hon drawing that I did in Natalie Italiano's drawing class.
The copy of a Prud'hon drawing
that I did in Natalie Italiano's
drawing class. 
I believe drawing is a foundation to realistic painting and Studio Incamminati instructors teach and teach and teach it, both in class and as homework. Students copy master drawings. They draw from still life set-ups and from nude models in hundreds of both short and long poses. There is no doubt that drawing informs painting and at Studio Incamminati it is a necessary component of artistry. So that's part of why I draw.

But today I realized that my affection for drawing didn't begin at any school, or under any instructor's guidance. Other than my stick figures drawn as a small child I realized that my drawing started, sporadically at least, in junior high and high school.

I remember drawing the Marlboro Man from the cigarette advertisement. I remember drawing a middle aged man and small boy fishing in a lake, their bodies seen over the rim of a row boat from some other advertisement. I remember drawing horses, both from magazine photographs and from life, grazing in a field.

And then I went to college, and writing poetry and short stories replaced drawing. It wasn't until about the time my daughter was born almost twenty years later that I began to draw and sketch again.

I started by sketching her asleep in her crib or playing with finger paints, in conte crayon. There were many drawings of her, all lost somewhere in my piles of paper. There were sketches of women and unfinished drawings of our dogs and cats, too.

The sketch drawings I made of our family pets and women's profiles. The sketch drawings I made of our family pets and women's profiles.
The sketch drawings I made of our family pets
and women's profiles.

What is so clear in hindsight, but not realized until today, is that I never set up and drew a traditional still life of my own volition. My drawing ideas came from what I connect to—living things, things I love like people, animals, trees, water. I realized that I need to draw those things—for me. Simply put, it makes me happy.

This drawing was arranged with the broken shards of a Korean vessel that belonged to my father.
This drawing was arranged with the broken
shards of a Korean vessel that belonged
to my father.
When I have had to set up my own still life arrangements in a still life class, my set-up often includes objects that I love because they belonged to someone I loved or things to which I feel a powerful connection. The broken pottery in the drawing at left are remnant of an old Korean vessel once belonging to my father.

I can set up a still life that speaks to me without those things, but it does have to speak to other ways, through the composition.

So you might ask, where am I going with this? I am not saying don't make still life drawings. But I am saying that when you think about your next drawing you may want to explore why you draw, and why you draw what you draw, and see what lessons you may learn from that exploration.

After having done the same, I now know how to make a composition out of all sorts of objects to which I connect at an emotional or intellectual level. Doing the same yourself means there's a powerful connection waiting for you to tap into in your own drawings. Let me know how it goes!

--Judith

 


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Comments

ellenoftroy wrote
on 21 Apr 2012 8:12 PM

Hi Judith, what you said is so true about connection you had with your subjects. And yes, that artistic talent does come out every now and then, even if you have stopped for awhile. I have just revived my watercolor portrait hobby after like a decade of hiatus. Here's what I did lately: portraithouse.net/.../the-godfather-in-watercolors

on 22 Apr 2012 11:04 AM

Correction: The copy of a male back from Natalie Italiano's class is actually from a Peter Paul Ruben's drawing.

on 22 Apr 2012 11:24 AM

The powerful connection is intriguing

kathansen61 wrote
on 10 May 2012 5:16 PM

i think a connection to a subject  is extremely important no matter what the medium. But i love drawing nature and animals...and the more texture the more fun it is!!