Drawing is the foundation of all good representational paintings. I’m sure most have heard the expression as it relates to the importance of good drawing, “It’s eighty percent drawing and the other twenty per cent is drawing”! I am convinced and believe that without good observation skills, and a sound foundation in drawing, paintings can be very limited. I have seen many a painting with eye catching technique that at first glance, looks interesting….until you see the weakness of the drawing…..then, you can’t get pass it. At that point, it’s all one sees! I'm also not suggesting that my personal drawing is always spot on.....but it is something that is important to me, and I try to impart that to students that I teach!
This is particularly important with the figure. When painting the landscape for instance, trees and things of that nature are all different and artistic license can be taken more readily. Trees and other parts of the landscape can be moved around to create more interesting, or stronger compositions…..but, if the figure is inaccurately portrayed or distorted inappropriately, everyone notices. For me, reasonable accuracy is what is necessary, and interpretation rather than slavishly copying…..artists interpret….. Cameras copy.
Drawing with charcoal, pencil, etc. is no different than drawing with paint….in my opinion. You are always making the same decisions based on the width, height, angle, value, edge quality of the subject. The only difference is when you are using color, there is this little thing called temperature that must be addressed.
Good shapes are good drawing. Drawing does not have to be highly rendered necessarily…..depending on what the artist is trying to convey! Some great drawings are accurate suggestions of images that leave something to be imagined by the viewer…… but, are spot on good shapes. This is why a clever application of paint will not help a bad shape, or poor drawing. On the other hand a great shape will carry a mediocre paint application…..obviously the best scenario would be to have great shape and great application!
I believe that anyone can be taught to get an accurate proportion by measuring each increment before making marks. I find this to be, personally, very tedious. I prefer to use observation to try and determine widths, lengths and angles….intersecting lines, etc., without measuring. I think this practice will ultimately increase ones observation skill level. Obviously, if your judgment based on observation still looks wrong, and you can’t get it correctly in that manner, you then must measure, or check yourself. Over time, there will be less need to measure each little thing…..there will be an increased level of accuracy, and drawing will be less tedious, free, more confident….and, certainly more fun!
These are only my personal feelings about this subject, and might, or might not reflect any common opinion. Thanks for listening to my Cajun ramblings!
Hodges Soileau OPA