Drawing Basics: 10 Favorite Articles from Drawing Magazine's Archives

To be perfectly honest, there's a period between the moment an issue of Drawing leaves our hands to go to the printer and the moment when I have a chance to calmly peruse the finished printed product during which I am filled with trepidation and doubt. Was that last issue we just finished any good?

The answer is always … it's not a bad issue at all. A good amount of instruction, some art-historical information, something a little further afield, an exploration of art materials and careers, something for beginners, and something for advanced draftsmenthe mix always makes for a balanced and satisfying book.

But there are personal favorites. Someone on staff mentioned an old article from Drawing, and I found myself saying, "That was one of my favorites!" It occurred to me that perhaps blog readers would like to see a top-10 list of intriguing articles from the Drawing archives. Are these the top 10 articles, period? Probably notand such a list would be a subjective one in any case. These are simply the 10 that most piqued my interest. Sorry, some are not available for purchase because the back issues have long been sold out. They are listed in no particular order.

Materials and Techniques of Renaissance Drawing, by Steve Doherty, in the Fall 2004 issue.
Steve's article revealed extremely valuable information on how Parmigianino and his contemporaries achieved the warm, beautiful tones that help put Renaissance drawings among the world's finest and most treasured.

Seven Secrets of Andrew Wyeth's Technique, by Henry Adams, in the Spring 2004 issue.
Adams delved deeply into the modern master's technique, drawing on both scholarship and personal acquaintance with Wyeth to craft a captivating and useful look at the artist's draftsmanship and process.

Mother Courage: The Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz, by Joseph C. Skrapits, in the Spring 2008 issue.
Kollwitz forsook the use of color starting at an early age, and her sure strokes in her chosen medium—drawingbetray the complete, elegant, economical mastery she had over charcoal and other drawing materials. Skrapits took a rather sad life story and showed how it is actually a triumph of human will and a tale of art's victory over adversity.

10 Great Drawers, (and What They Teach Us), by Bob Bahr, in the Summer 2006 issue.
I had a tremendous amount of fun writing this articleEphraim Rubenstein sat down with me and we chatted about what made 10 master draftsmen so great. The artists were chosen based on how often they appeared in Drawing magazinethese were the names that drawers kept mentioning during interviews, citing them as inspiration and mentors. Of course, we received e-mails and letters telling us who we should have had on the list, but the choices were made by counting the mentions, not based on personal preferences. We swear!

"The Erotic Frigidaire": The Académies of Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, by Ephraim Rubenstein, in the Spring 2007 issue.
Rubenstein confessed that even he, a learned art educator, discovered a lot of great information during the research for this article. Prud'hon's unusual method is fascinating, and Rubenstein's lively prose made the history and technical information contained in the story come alive like the subjects do in David McCullough's books.

How to Draw Dynamic Heads, by Dan Gheno, in the Fall 2006 issue.
All of Gheno's articles provide solid foundations for their respective issues of Drawing, but something about the way the artist-instructor approached the subject of the human headand the perfectly apt art-historical and contemporary examples he foundmake this my favorite installment from him.

Drawing for the Movies, by Linda S. Price, in the Spring 2008 issue.
We try to include one article per issue on the various ways people make a living from art beyond gallery sales and teaching. This piece was an exciting look at how a storyboard artist for award-winning movies (No Country For Old Men, among others) does what he does.

Draw What the Model is Doing, by Bob Bahr, in the Winter 2008 issue.
I mostly just organized all that Patricia Hannaway told me about how her animation work and her preparation for it made her realize that capturing the gesture and drawing the figure in action is probably closer to the approach the Renaissance masters used than the academic approach of drawing an outline from a static figure or cast and filling in the envelope. This article stands out because it contrasts with the direction presented in many other pieces in Drawing magazinethe academic approach, the sight-size method, etc. Of course, there's no wrong way to create art…

Drawing Out Sargent, by Mark G. Mitchell, in the Fall 2006 issue.
Many admire John Singer Sargent's succinct, seemingly free brushstrokes, but underneath the painter was a master draftsman. Mitchell did a great job presenting this underappreciated aspect of the American legend.

Julia Randall's Mouth, by Mark G. Mitchell, in the Winter 2008 issue.
Mitchell's clear thinking and empathetic approach matched well with Randall's surprisingly provocative subject matter. She simply drew a series featuring the human mouth doing largely innocuous things, but nearly everyone I showed these images to had a strong reactiongood or bad. Evidently the artist discovered just how powerful the mouth is, and the result is well-executed pieces that make you thinkmostly about how strongly and involuntarily you feel about her colored-pencil drawings. It's hard to argue that hers is not very successful art, no matter how you might measure that.


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Bob Bahr

About Bob Bahr

Hi. I'm the managing editor of American Artist, Watercolor, Drawing, and Workshop magazines. Drawing magazine is primarily my responsibility so I spend a lot of time looking at drawings, talking with draftsmen, and drawing ... but I love to paint, too.

4 thoughts on “Drawing Basics: 10 Favorite Articles from Drawing Magazine's Archives

  1. The links do not go directly to the articles, they are to a page where you can purchase the issue in question (I did not click every single one). Somewhat disappointed.

  2. Yes, I am sorry about that. We can’t post many of our articles online, because that is the product we sell to stay in business. We post at least one article per issue online, but these stories on this list are from the archives.

    If you would like to read some articles from Drawing mag online, I suggest checking out:

    an excellent and lengthy article about foreshortening from the always astute Dan Gheno:

    a wonderful, short primer on the anatomy of the human skull from David Kassan:

    Also, in regard to the Wyeth article, NZJen, that issue is all gone–sold out–and we don’t have permission to put Wyeth’s images on the web. I still wanted to include it because I loved the article so much. I’ll look into just posting the text.

    Finally, we did post a few of these articles on our old site. Here are some links. Please be aware that these links won’t work in a month or so–we are completing the transition to this new platform, and ideally all the archives will make it over then, too. But these particular links will go kaput at some point.


    10 Great Drawers



  3. Is it possible to get past copies of Drawing magazine on CD, similar to Artists Magazine? I would be interested in purchasing several years of Drawing magazine on CD that I didn’t subscribe to or buy at my local book store. Please let me know if this is a possibility.