Drawing is many things to many people. It is, foremost, primarily a tool of study, of observation of the world around us. There was a time that drawing was the primary method of recording information to be brought into the studio and further into painting. Today this is still the process for many artists. As a tool to heighten observation it is unsurpassed at least where form and value are concerned. As a foundational course of study it is present in most art schools, academies and Ateliers.
If fact it has made the leap out of art into mainstream academic study as potentially the best way of improving memory, learning and retaining (which I suppose is memory again) information for anyone, not just artists.
I think the notion of drawing as an end rather than a means to an end is relatively new. Researching you can find quite a few images from the past produced by artists studying form, capturing an important detail, figure or gesture. What there isn’t much of, from pre 18th century is an abundance of finished drawings or more pointedly drawings done for their own sake outside of biblical illustration. There are examples, to be sure, just not a ton, relatively speaking.
I want to say that it may be possible that etching, lithography and graphic line art for publication opened the door for drawing to come into its own.
As easily reproducible line art and graphics became more popular it seems to me that you start to see more finished drawings start to show up.
(By the way, most of this is my personal view (except where articles are referred to) This is all open to discussion.)
I, for one, love graphite as a fully realized medium in its own right. For me drawing is all those things listed so far and more. I can communicate with drawing and commune with it and I’m happy to live in a time when even loose sketches can be presented as finished work. It still happens that artists come up to me and ask …Is it ok to just pursue graphite/black and white images as work? I always say “Of course it is.” You need to do the work you want to do. Sometimes you have to work as the client wants but you have to find a way to do what you want as much as you can. In my opinion.
Drawing is still about observation for me, both internal observation and external. Very often it’s about making myself very quiet so that I can hear what the piece wants to be and then getting out of the way.
No matter how I choose to approach drawing, at least I have found one thing through which I may more fully understand myself.
Here are a few of the drawings from my inspirational folders. I’ve collected thousands of images and spent many hours just looking through them. This is never wasted time for me.
(yes, some of these are drawingesque paintings or mixed media)
Yes, another Beksinski…what? Wait. I know this is a painting, but I first saw it in black and white and thought it was a drawing, so it still counts.
Ivan Solvaev drawing beautifully in the digital realm
Daniel Bilmes… drawing with oil (or so it looks to me)
Alright, alright alright. I’m cutting myself off right here as I have to get back to work and I could easily spend all night going through my collection…
…just for fun go look here for the etymology for the word pencil (if you don’t already know).