Drawing Basics: Exercise the Imagination of Line

This web-based art program seeks to explore drawing basics as essential modes of education not only in the United Kingdom but all over the world.

July 22, 2007, Sunset in Verona at Ponte by Victor Timofeev, drawing
July 22, 2007, Sunset in
Verona at Ponte

by Victor Timofeev, 2007,
pen-and-ink and graphite,
9½ x 13.
Collection the artist.

"The Centre for Recent Drawing (C4RD) arose from a perceived need on my part to give air and space to larger considerations in drawing," says founder Andrew Hewish. Since 2004, Hewish has been providing independent noncommercial exhibition space in London, as well as a web service that seeks to unite artists dedicated to the medium of drawing. The online community also acts as a kind of "virtual exhibition," allowing those who can't get to London to experience the activities of C4RD. Hewish also provides an online residency program in which artists can apply to present their projects on the center's website. This program addresses C4RD's definition of drawing, which Hewish says is "the exercise of imagination on line." Artist Victor Timofeev, who is originally from Latvia but currently resides in the United States, participated in an online residency this past summer, and found it to be particularly beneficial. "I would scan my drawings and e-mail Andrew a batch of 14 every two weeks," Timofeev explains. "Being expected to show work every two weeks might seem like an art-school nightmare to some, but it was exactly what I needed. Showing my work and immediately receiving feedback inspired me to work on days when I wasn't feeling 'in the zone.'" In addition to receiving feedback from Hewish, and feeling inspired to work, an artist in online residence allows the C4RD community to view the progress of a series of work, and invites them to explore the issues and questions raised throughout the process.

July 8, 2007, Invaded City by Victor Timofeev, drawing
July 8, 2007, Invaded City
by Victor Timofeev, 2007,
pen-and-ink and graphite, 9½ x 13.
Collection the artist.

The need to raise and answer questions is of utmost importance to Hewish, who feels that drawing is a characteristically humanist mode of expression that deserves to be explored beyond the realm of fine arts. "Drawing is emerging from its status as a tool or artifact from the fine arts to an approach that can be valued across many disciplines," he explains. For this reason, C4RD seeks a diverse group of applicants and participants, both online and in its museum space. The program aims for balance in its incorporation of art journalists, critics, curators, designers, architects, and institutions in group and individual presentations to present the wide range of possibilities within the medium.

With its museum space in the city of London, Hewish offers contemporary artists the much-needed opportunity to display their work. Like in the United States, exhibition space is limited for artists, especially in major cities. "With rents being so high and museums starved for funds, one rarely has the opportunity to see drawing for its own sake," Hewish explains. "The work must be by a well-known artist or be of historical value to justify being shown in a commercial environment." Surprisingly, applicants are not required to fill out forms. Instead, he looks for an artist who demonstrates a unique vision and way of communicating, as well as diversity. If a proposal is too similar to work recently shown, it will not be chosen, or will be reserved for a later date.

June 16, 2007, Piazza San Marco by Victor Timofeev, drawing
June 16, 2007, Piazza San Marco
by Victor Timofeev, 2007,
pen-and-ink and graphite, 9½ x 13.
Collection the artist.

Because he's an artist himself, Hewish must do a lot of multitasking to run a nonprofit online service and exhibition space alongside his own studio. Luckily, the work of C4RD inspires him, as he hopes it does others. "Although my own drawings are more conservative than most of what is shown by C4RD, the challenges presented by the work forces me to think about my own process," he says. It is the commitment to the process of drawing and the issues surrounding the medium that makes this organization a valuable tool for artists not only in England but also throughout the world. The exhibition of contemporary work that deconstructs and explores a medium that has existed for centuries injects new life into the art of drawing. This, for Hewish, is key. "Historically, bad things happen when societies don't tolerate complexity," he reasons. At the Centre for Recent Drawing, complexity and diversity are not only encouraged, they're given a home.

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