Drawing is a form of visual art in which an artist uses instruments or tools to make marks on a surface. In fine art, drawing refers to “the linear realization of visual objects, concepts, emotions, and fantasies, including symbols and even abstract forms.” It is a graphic art, characterized by the central use of form or shape, lines, and sometimes patterns.
“A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”
–Paul Klee, famous painter, printmaker, and draughtsman
Drawing is one of the oldest forms of human expression within the visual arts. It began as a simple and efficient means of communicating via markings and symbols; it remained such over the course of human history, but eventually developed into an art form. It is considered to be the foundation of artistic practice, fundamental to all art because it is what allows artists to plan and negotiate space and apply visual structure to the scope of their imaginations.
Just as there are different categories of art in general, there are also divisions within specific genres like drawing. Drawing is one way an artist captures what he or she sees in three dimensions and transposes it onto a two-dimensional surface. Drawing can be created using a wide variety of drawing materials, including instruments like pen and ink, charcoal, chalks, crayons, markers, ink pens, and more. The most usual material upon which a drawing is done, called a support, is paper. Other drawing supports include cardstock, fabric canvas, and vellum. Mixed-media drawings are those executed using a combination of these materials.
When most people think of drawing, they presume it to be representational--a clear depiction of a physical object. These drawings often focus on observation as the basis of representational compositions. Sometimes, they are created as representational sketches but are often rough or unfinished. When used to prepare for painting, they are called studies.
Sometimes drawings are created to express abstract concepts rather than representations of concrete objects. These drawings are symbolic or expressive in nature. Symbolic drawing uses lines, shapes, and/or other marks that graphically represent some larger or more complex object. Expressive drawing communicates intangible ideas, concepts, or emotions.
Artists often choose a combination of realistic, symbolic, and/or expressive modes of drawing to create their compositions. From diagrams to figure drawings and still-lifes to illustrations to abstract forms and patterns, drawings can capture a wide range of subjects and ideas in a variety of ways.
Art from the Streets is an Austin, Texas-based non-profit organization that gives people living in homelessness the chance to develop as artists. Art from the Streets (AFTS) gives them a place where they can practice their artistic skills, while also providing opportunities to sell their original artworks online, during art shows, and at other events. If you are interested in learning more about the organization, please contact AFTS any time. Further, if you want to support AFTS in its mission, you can become a donor. Reach out to the AFTS team to find out more.
Written by: Erika Mehlhaff