Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Want To Paint Better? Become A Draftsman

     Webster defines it this way:  Draftsman:  2b. An artist skilled in drawing.  Sums it up rather nicely, don’t you think?  But we all know there is a lot of wiggle room there.
     This becomes very apparent when I teach workshops.  Everyone searches for the magic bullet that will allow him or her to paint better, and then somehow be able to leapfrog to good drawing skills.  In my opinion, they are one and the same.  There is no difference between the two.
     Calderon states it succinctly and abruptly …. “What is meant by Drawing?”  Many people are under the impression that it only refers to the elementary part of an artist’s education.  They do not realize that it is the very essence of all pictorial art, and that without it painting would be meaningless.
     It may seem like a rather strong statement, but everyone from Calderon to Watrous, and from Fechin to Watteau, can’t emphasize this enough.
     If you wish to make good paintings, sink your time, energy and hard work into achieving good drawings.  This post is about the big picture, literally.
     To be a competent artist, we must embrace this larger idea.  Many approaches exist in becoming a skilled draftsman.  David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw start from a gesture to establish a framework and build to a finished drawing.  The ateliers measure with straight lines and establish a block in measuring and slowly building their image along the way.
      Still others like Michael Workman employ a grid to establish a foundation for the early drawing.  Harley Brown measures with units (usually the size of the head) to start his initial work.
     The point is this:  there is more than one way to skin the proverbial feline.  But there is only one way to be a great painter.  I implore you today.  Declare yourself a draftsman, find the drawing style that works best for you and get busy.

Drawing Resources
The Language of Drawing – Sherrie McGraw
The Craft of Old Master Drawings – James Watrous
Bridgman’s Life Drawing – George Bridgman
Figure Drawing – Anthony Ryder

Content © Mark Kohler Studio.

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