Following Rebecca Fairley’s recommendation of Making & Drawing, I thought I had better get a copy, as I am coming to realise how important drawing is in the planning and preparation stage of a project, and also as a tool for analysing the finished work.
The author discusses the many reasons that artists draw, such as:- to stimulate ideas, to evaluate outcomes, to help in the creation of painting, or pattern making and as a starting point for making artworks. Drawing can be carried out in any media, including three-dimensional materials or collations of images. It helps to focus your mind on a subject, cuts out distractions and allows for close analysis, ‘looking’ and understanding.
Drawings can be a great resource to look back on for stimulating future work. They can be a record of an idea for future reference, recording the “experience of looking”, something which photographs cannot match, as they only record an instant in time of a particular viewpoint, as seen by the camera lens. The prolonged observation of a drawing enables the artist to fully explore a subject and select the information from it that is important for their work.
Kyra Cane recommends working from an original source (eg, an object, a scene, a sound, an idea, or a feeling), and making drawings, sketches, diagrams, photos or screen stills that can be brought together in a sketchbook or pinned to the wall as inspiration for a project.
The book is split into various sections exploring the way in which particular artists use drawing in their practice.
Drawing As Reference
Jeweller, Anna Gordon, draws in pencil, focusing on line, which is translated into linear forms in metal. Her drawings are made around a theme, with the lines describing form and the units that make up that shape. She is influenced by what she sees around her, including nature, the built environment and everyday objects. The jewellery is “a sketch to be worn on the body”.
Anna Gordon, Twig on Enamel Brooch, 2013, Oxidised Silver, Gold Leaf and Enamel, 50mm x 35mm
Ceramicist, Kate Malone keeps scrapbook-sketchbooks, which lead to unexpected relationships, sparking new ideas. She keeps travel diaries and makes numerous drawings. These are used to create a visual proposal for commission work, including plans, working diagrams, technical details (fixings, installation etc) and full size drawings.
Kate Malone, page from Sketchbook 1
Jeweller, Laura Baxter makes botanical drawings to enhance her understanding of forms and recurring motifs. She works in pencil and watercolour, making the drawings increasingly simple and in line with her requirements for development in metal.
Laura Baxter, Brooch with Allium and Flyaway Dandelion Seed, 2009, oxidised silver & 18ct gold
Drawing As Planning and Design
This practice allows a maker to explore possible options without having to make a finished article. Concepts, forms, outcomes and thoughts can all be investigated. The design stage involves coming up with the solution to a problem: creating and inventing; while the planning stage is when the maker will work out how to do something.
Chien-Wei Chang is a Taiwanese silversmith, working in London.
Chien-Wei Chang, Drawing of Bamboo Containers, 2008 (left) and Bamboo Containers, 2008, silver (right)
Source:- Cane (2012), P 48.
Chien-Wei’s way of working starts with an idea, he carries out research, makes drawings, then paper constructions, then metal, sometimes combined with other media. At other times he will play with materials and forms in an exploratory fashion, allowing his work to be flexible during the making process. His drawings may be made to understand the nature of the subject, how the final piece will look, as visual evaluation or to explore a form in three dimensions.
Rory Longdon is a British knitwear designer. He uses pencil or pen to draw his designs over photocopies of figures or manikins. His drawings are working documents that may include textile samples, notes, alterations, etc, for his own use. They reflect his attention to detail throughout the design and making process.
Rory Longdon, Garment development and toiling, and sketchbook development, 2011
Source:- Cane (2012), P 70.
Drawing and Surface
Decorating a surface began with the earliest cave paintings and can be carried out to:- beautify; to record events; to convey information; to celebrate the natural world; to provoke thought; to tell stories; document history or commemorate people.
Decoration is found on the early ceramics, metalware and textiles of all cultures. Local traditions have grown up, making use of local materials, dependent on the maker’s environment, circumstances and religion. Historical examples may be copied or adapted. Particular patterns may travel to new places, over time, but can persist for centuries. In more modern times, the maker’s own choices will be as important as the above-mentioned factors.
The book discusses two ceramic decorators with very different approaches: Helen Beard draws and paints figures from life in her sketchbooks, which she then draws onto the surface of her ceramics (domestic pieces, such as beakers).
Helen Beard, sketchbook/studio
Felicity Aylieff bases her abstract, blue and white decorated ceramics (vast in size) on careful study of the historical patterns and processes of Chinese ceramicists. She also combines stylised floral motifs with geometric patterns, which remind me of sashiko stitching.
Felicity Aylieff, Blue and White monumental Vase, 2011
Matthew Harris is a textile artist who explores repetition, pattern, line and image in his abstract cloth artworks. Sketches, notes and photographs inform his series of drawings. He pares down the visual information to focus on the essence of his subject matter. The drawings utilise paper in the same way that one uses cloth: layering, joining, staining and marking. He will look out for ‘happy accidents’ to include in his work. Waxed thread is used to sew the individual components into his chosen layout. Colour placement, types of mark and balance in the composition are resolved through drawing in this way. A cartoon is made to inform the work for the finished piece. This plan allows Matthew to work out how he will dye, stitch, paint, cut, piece and patch his textiles.
Matthew Harris, Factory. Cartoons for cloth. No. II
Drawing As Making
A similar process may be involved in drawing and making for some artists, such as using wire as a line to draw. The work of Jeanette Orrell illustrates this point.
Jeanette Orrell, Two Baskets, 2008, photopolymer intaglio print
Jeanette Orrell, Cages, 2005, mixed media (wire, wax etc)
The drawn lines made by this artist feed directly into her wire work sculptures.
Drawing As Thinking
Drawing can help:-
- clearer thought
- articulate subconscious thinking
- reveal the nature of a subject
- solve problems
- explore possibilities
- sift ideas
- refine concepts
- with reflection before the making starts
Junko Mori is a Japanese-born metalworker, now working in Wales. She makes beautiful ‘doodles’ that are similar to, but are not plans for, her metalwork sculptures. She feels that drawing first would sap energy from the making process. The drawing is a warming up exercise that runs in parallel with her work. Her inspiration derives from trees and plants. In her artist’s statement she says “…No piece is individually planned but becomes fully formed within the making and thinking process. Repeating little accidents, like a mutation of cells, the final accumulation of units emerges within this process of evolution…”
Junko Mori, Doodle Happa, 2001, ink on paper (left); Doodle Chaos 1, 1995, ink on paper (centre); Doodle Mitokon 1, 1999, watercolour on paper (right).
Source:- Cane (2012), P 162.
Junko Mori, 2012, Propagation Project; Sea Anenome, Forged mild steel, wax-coated
Drawing With Technology
Some artists use computers and software instead of hand techniques. This can save time in performing labour-intensive processes and can expand possibilities, enable faster research and the faster translation of ideas. Artists must still have the mastery of their chosen media and a way of manufacturing their pieces.
This lovely book clearly demonstrates the way in which different makers use drawing in their practice: some using it as a way to record and explore source material, or to work out ways of constructing their pieces, or they may construct a precise plan of what they intend to make. For other artists, their drawings are a separate stream of creativity. Alternatively, artists may prefer to work directly with their materials, once they have built up an understanding of the source inspiration and process they intend to use.
- provide a connection between hand and eye
- explore possibilities
- extract information about a subject
- lead work in new directions
- be used for testing different compositions or scales
- help with decision-making (colour palettes, suitable techniques, suitable media, etc)
- be a means of recording travel, people, places, objects, colours
- be a visual evaluation of completed work that feeds back into future work
A sketchbook can be a collection of notes, drawings, references, images and ideas.
Thinking of my own work, I have been working mainly on loose sheets, but I also have a number of sketchbooks ‘on the go’: one is a sort of scrapbook; I have a box file of cuttings from magazines and other images; not to mention different sizes of sketchbooks with drawings in them. I like the idea of a single sketchbook that contains everything in the order in which it was collected or drawn, but have not felt able to pursue that line because the coursework recommends trying out different media and different sizes and types of ground to work on. Keeping a sketchbook per project is something that I may try in the future, but will continue with the variety of loose papers in the meantime.
I find that drawing, for me, starts with trying to capture a likeness of the subject, which I then try to simplify and refine (sometimes through exaggeration of a particular feature, or through abstraction). In Part 4 of the coursework, I found that making drawings of the source material led to lots of ideas for making yarn concepts, and that it was quite easy to decide on the media and techniques to use, once I had drawn the idea, so I will continue to try to increase my drawing activity. As Kyra Cane says in her conclusion: “Making objects … is drawing in three dimensions.”
Links to my previous research on drawing:-
Cane, Kyra. Making & Drawing. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.
http://annagordon.demo.escrivo.com/gallery Accessed 12/03/17
http://www.chienweichang.com/timeline.htm Accessed 13/03/17
http://www.designbyaika.com/what-is-sashiko/ Accessed 13/03/17
http://www.aylieff.com Accessed 13/03/17
http://www.helenbeard.com/sketchbook Accessed 13/03/17
http://www.junkomori.com/ Accessed 14/03/17
http://www.katemaloneceramics.com/ Accessed 12/03/17
http://www.laurabaxter.co.uk/ Accessed 13/03/17
http://www.matthewharriscloth.co.uk Accessed 13/03/17
http://www.rorylongdon.co.uk/ Accessed 13/03/17