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The Art of Responsive Drawing

The Art of Responsive Drawing - Nathan Goldstein 16 June 2011- Yeah, this is a float of an old review, but a year ago, I didn't know how to put pictures in HTML, so I just got around to adding the images."I could draw really well, if I didn't have to use lines"Nathan Goldstein has a lot to say about drawing, and most of it is not the standard "how to" stuff you might expect from an instructional art book. Chapter 3 in particular is downright philosophical, describing the art of drawing as uniqely impeded among all artistic modalities. What's impeding drawing? Why lines, of course! There can be no drawing without lines. At the very least, they are necessary to define the boundaries of objects. More sophisticated drawings communicate shading and texture, but also always with lines. So what's the big deal? If lines convey so much, why regard them as an impediment? They're a tool, aren't they? Well, unlike for example, sculpture, where a solid material can be used to describe another solid material, drawing is forever removed from the essence of what it is portraying. Lines themselves don't actually exist in the physical world. Edges of solid forms exist. This doesn't present a challenge if you want to draw something like a cube, where the edges are unambiguous. But if you want to draw something with a complex curved surface, like a Ferrari, you have to start making choices which will progressively limit the ways the object can be drawn (more on that below). Still worse: if you want to present something which doesn't acutally have a clearcut edge, like fog, that can be even more problematic. Let's set fog aside for now, and go back to the Ferrari. If you find yourself next to one, you can walk around it. Using your stereo vision, and observing the changing reflections on its surface as you move, you will gather enough information to understand its overall form. It only takes a few seconds, but it's actually a lot of information. A sculpture would let you do the same thing, but a drawing cannot. Mathematically inclined readers will say that this is just inherant to presenting 3D objects on 2D paper.. and that is part of it, but there's more to it than that: Paintings present 3D objects on 2D surfaces too, but since paints can be blended in a continuous spectrum of colors, which can be further blended on another continuous spectrum of shades and tones, and yet another spectrum of textures, painters can show gradual color and shade changes without ever having to show a definite edge. The medium is simply much more information-rich than pen-and-ink drawing. Aside: pencil drawing does enjoy the ability to be continously shaded, which Paul Calle employs skillfully in his illustrations in The Pencil). This is a textbook intended for art students, so maybe it is indicative of how much thinking-about-art sets "real" artists apart from hobby-artists. Probably that and practice. Lots and lots of practice.