Matchstalk men are coming to London this year in the guise of an exhibition presented by Tate Britain of the works of the famous Lancashire painter, LS Lowry. From the 26th June 2013 Lowry’s work, of predominantly urban landscapes set in the industrial northwest of England, will be on show. I can’t wait to see them. Lowry has a distinct style – if you don’t know his work have a look at this excellent BBC website – and although his work was popular with the public, he received mixed reviews from the critics. After all, weren’t his scenes populated by little more than stick men – just how children would draw/paint?
From Lowry and his stick people my thoughts then travelled to the following questions: What is drawing? What is a good/bad drawing? Why draw? Is the ability to draw a skill or is it a gift at birth from a fairy godmother? I often read or hear people saying “I wish I could draw” or ”I can’t draw but I would love to be able to draw …….” And so on. The response of ”…. so when did you last try to draw…?” is usually answered with “….oh, I must have been about 11 or 12 years old….I wasn’t very good so I haven’t bothered since.”
From reading about the lives of artists I have arrived at the conclusion that, to become skilled in drawing, one has to draw all the time; and failing that at least once a day.
For the majority of people the ability to create a quick sketch of a holiday scene or a family pet is enough for them, there is no desire to set the art world alight. If that is the case then, if one can write with pen or pencil on a piece of paper, drawing is possible. There is a difference, of course, between a scribbled list on a back of an envelope with a blunt pencil and an illuminated manuscript on parchment, but let’s not split hairs.
In my mind there are two different types of drawing – a). Drawing from the imagination or doodling or b). drawing from an object or view in front of one.
I don’t tend to do a). At the age of about 5 I was told to draw the Garden of Eden – which I did beautifully being 5. I was understandably crushed when, holding up my masterpiece, the teacher declared that there were no houses, no paths, no garden fences in the Garden of Eden and my drawing was wrong. With hindsight and, with the maturity my advancing years have bestowed upon me, I accept that she was right but only because she was undoubtably old enough to have been at the Garden of Eden to see for herself. Yeh.
Therefore if I want to draw something I want to be able to see it. There are two ‘tricks’ I do if I start getting too serious and decide I can’t draw (never, ever, tears, tantrum…..) One is to draw a continuous line while not taking the pencil off the paper as so: -
and the other is to draw the negative space rather than the subject itself.
It is a good way to keep the nagging part of your brain quiet for a bit. A book I have dipped into for many years and would recommend is ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ by Betty Edwards.
Then there is a). doodling or drawing from the imagination. I don’t know what the difference is between ‘drawing’ and ‘doodling’- does it matter? Perhaps being told to doodle sounds more fun? Does anyone say “I wish I could doodle?”. Perhaps doodling is more ‘informal’ than drawing? There are two blogs that I like that show how doodling can even be an aid to design; there is Judy West’s Creative Doodling and Lori’s Inbox Jaunt. Those sites in turn may lead you to the art of Doodle Stitching with Aimee Ray, and so another type of ‘drawing’ world is opened up.
Happy scribbling until next time.