Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Drawing Better Than Painting?

There is a field outside one of the ATM's I sometimes 
use. Every time I go there my eye is caught and held by a stand of tall pines in the distance. Often they sway gently as they are raked by the wind. This went on for years until I took the hint and did a drawing of the place. Above is Harp of the Winds, vine charcoal and pastel, 9 x 9". Making the drawing felt right, as if I'd pulled the trees to myself and made them my own. Not surprisingly, this group of trees ended up completing the foreground of one of my large studio oils not too much later. 

One would think in painting that inventing trees out of one's imagination shouldn't be that hard. Just try it. Likely as not one ends up with foliage that looks more like wilted broccoli than oaks or pines. Making drawings is it a way to engage more of your mind in grasping the essentials in what you've discovered out there in the world. It is a way to wake oneself up enough to really see. 

Is drawing better than painting? No, but like a musician practicing scales, it is a way to sharpen and tune one's senses and understanding. Show me a truly fine painter and I'll show you someone who's filled up thousands of square feet of drawing paper.

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