Saturday, 14 July 2012

Painting versus Drawing..... My Dilemma!!!

Deliberately chose the title to indicate a difference between the two and many of you who have followed me on the various forums will know I have spouted forth many times on this subject.

Now I find myself in a bit of a dilemma with my own spouting!!!!!

I have always felt that painting and drawing are completely separate skills... still do in fact. I have never seen anything wrong in using aids for getting a drawing onto the paper allowing someone to then get on with painting. I drew a lot as a child but painted very little so developed reasonable drawing skills and absolutely no painting skills. So did the ability to draw help my ability to paint? Not one bit other than being able to get a credible drawing on the paper which I invariably ruined the minute I touched it with any paint!!!!

I started to get precious about the drawing and the whole thing put me off painting anything which was remotely difficult to draw as I knew I was likely to have to do the drawing again and again and again.  I ruined so many beautiful drawings as soon as I hit the paint and it all took too long, keep having to draw things again to be painted. I found painting to be a much more difficult skill to learn than drawing but how was I to learn to paint if the thought of keep having to do the drawings was holding me back?

So, I started to paint without drawing something which is a fundamental feature of Jean Haines work, work as you will all know I love and has been an inspiration to me. This process really works for me, not because it allows me to be more spontaneous and to be less constrained by the lines ( I know Jean if you are reading those should be my main reasons!!!) but simply because it lets me paint as soon as possible and I can never wait to start painting!!!

So what's the problem then!!!

Well my problem is that although my drawing skills are ok..... am beginning to realise they could be a lot better so that I am struggling with certain things when just going in with the paint and this is where the dilemma arises.....

This is the image I'm working on at the moment, another Susan and I are doing and have done 2 watercolour sketches so far. Am liking how the fur and background are happening but can I get the muzzle right in proportion and angle to the eye and rest of the face? It is totally spoiling the whole sketch and frustrating me at the same time!!!! As with any sort of portrait the features have to be right, the angle of this face is proving particularly tricky and I am really struggling just going in with the paint so on this I am going to do just a faint drawing. But, I don't want to go back to having to draw. I want to paint!!!

When I used to go to art classes and did very little practise during the summer break I used to find my drawing skills deteriorated and needed a bit of work to bring them back to standard. I have done very little drawing recently but have now realised I really do need to brush up on my skills so that I can continue to work without the use of a sketch in my painting.

Painting without drawing needs spot on drawing skills and while I can get away with a lot of subjects, flowers, landscapes, nudes, they don't really seem to test my drawing skills, other subjects I struggle with, face profiles, some animals and other subjects where I maybe just haven't paid attention to the finer points of the drawing (Jean's door for example)..... and with this image there is a tricky angle, so am finding I need a few guidelines and therefore think it is back to the drawing board quite literally for me!!! 

So it isn't really a dilemma but it is something I need to address. It doesn't shake my belief that drawing and painting are two separate skills but what do I now think about people using aids to get the drawing on the paper? I think I still believe that to be a good thing for those who struggle with drawing and spend hours trying to get something to look half decent to then allow them to paint. I have always advocated that people practice drawing for the sake of drawing and painting for the sake of painting.
However, having encouraged people to use other means of getting an image on the paper, doesn't mean I  would not encourage them to improve their drawing skills. Drawing is a fundamental but what I am trying to say is that I don't want lack of drawing skills to stop people painting. Try and learn to draw as a skill in itself and likewise learn to paint as a separate skill. Learning to draw means learning to draw "what you see not what you think you see" and just as you can be taught to paint you can be taught how to draw. I do have the book "Drawing wth the Right Side of the Brain" a bit of a drawing teaching bible and as yet haven't really checked it out... maybe now is the time!!!

So, you might see one or two charcoal sketches appearing on my blog over the next few weeks as I try to polish up my drawing skills so that I no longer need to draw on my paper and can just paint!!!!


  1. Hi Judith :)

    I mainly came by to say thank you for your lovely comment over at mine. It means so much, everyone has said such lovely things and it means a lot when it comes from people I admire.

    I know exactly what you mean with this post. I used to draw such a lot as a child and teen, I stopped when I got into a less than positive relationship as a young adult and have only in recent 5 or 6 years been 'finding myself' again as cheesy as that sounds. My drawing, where I used to secretly feel I was quite good is so very rusty and my painting feels like I'm an absolute beginner again. More often than not I ruin a drawing when I introduce paint and it's very frustrating. I might have to check out that book too. I'm looking forward to seeing your drawings.

  2. Hi Carmen thanks for the lovely message, as long as you don't give up you will get there (wherever there is???) in the end!!! Painting is both the most frustrating and oddly rewarding thing I have ever tried to do and even when we get better that feeling of wanting to still do better or explore more is still be there! So here's to more practise, more disasters but moving in the right direction and every so often you will get that glimpse of something working for you which will carry you forward to the next one!!!

  3. Hello Judith! I come to visit you from Sharon's blog! I really like the way you work the watercolor! Congratulations and watercolors for the blog!Rita

  4. Congratulations for watercolours and for the blog!Sorry!

  5. Thank you for visiting Rita and thank you Sharon too!!! Am delighted you like my paintings Rita.... watercolour is what I love so it's lovely to hear that you like....

  6. I just found a new favorite blog! Found your blog through another artist blog and will be visiting again. Your work is lovely and so loose - just what watercolor should be. I can't draw with paint as my drawing skills involve some erasing that can't be done in watercolor but I enjoy painting and drawing so no problem for me. I think a couple of drawings of this and you'll be ready to do the painting free-hand because you'll have learned those angles and shapes. Good luck! Loved your previous post and painting!

  7. I think I will be able to do that Rhonda...... it is a question of getting to know the subject well and then the drawing becomes easier. Thank you for your lovely message am so pleased you have enjoyed what you have read and seen so far and will be coming back, check out Rusty Rackets....just a bit of fun!!!!


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