Thursday 2 May 2013

a couple of wavy lines

One of my most liberating drawing discoveries happened just after I left art school.  For years I had been drawing all my images with a single line showing where one form ended and another began.  I had always wanted to draw comics and that was how pretty much everyone that I liked drew.  But that sort of drawing is really very unforgiving and if you get something wrong it really shows!  My tutors had been trying to ween me off it for ages, trying to get me to broaden my influences.   I'm afraid I just dug my heels in and didn't change a thing.  I really disapprove of anything that feels like artistic snobbery; anything that says, this is high art, this is low art.  As time wore on I was getting more and more frustrated with my work.  I am by nature rather messy and this way of working just didn't suit me.  I could never be as precise as I wanted.  Then one day the penny dropped.  I was looking at an etching by Rembrandt, one of the self portraits where he's looking really surprised, and I realised I loved it just as much as all the things I had tried so hard to protect for so long... perhaps even a little bit more.  It was just a really good drawing!   I looked at it for a long time.  The face was so vivid and so alive - and very obviously a face - but it had no outline as such.  It was made up entirely of intersecting curved lines that followed the contours of the form.  They made the edge of the face between them.   I went home and tried drawing this way myself and found that I really liked it.  It seemed to me a much more generous method than the one I had been using previously.  Above all it allowed for ambiguity and that is a great friend if you don't know exactly how something works.  When I was very clear about something I could show it clearly.  When I wasn't I could just generalise the marks a bit and it wouldn't stick out quite so much.  Hurray! 

Here are some of the drawings from that time:


  1. lovely blog! these are lush! you should post the drawings you did in class yesterday too?

    1. Ok, I will! Hope the victims of them don't mind!! People always look like people when I draw them but not often like themselves ^-^