“Angel and Still Life”

There is nothing harder than a line.

The fewer the lines, the more important is each line.

-P. Picasso

Drawing is my favorite type of art, partly because I have done a lot of drawing and therefore can appreciate mastery when I see it–and partly because the essence of drawing is the line.

The drawn line is not the most accurate medium for representing visual reality. Of all traditional fine art media, paint is the most accurate, because the essence of painting is light just as it is for visual perception. (Painting is managing light; drawing is managing lines.) So the visual world as we perceive it is closer to painting.

(Of course, painting and drawing are not a dichotomy but a gradient. You can draw with paint and you can paint with some kinds of drawing media.)

On the other hand, lines do not even exist. They are purely cognitive products designed to help our minds chop up reality and feed it to us in a palatable form. This is why the line is so fascinating to me as an element of art. Representing reality through lines is an act of simplification and interpretation, in a way that painting is not.

Pen and ink is a particularly challenging drawing media because it demands absolute decisiveness and confidence. Even if you meticulously plan out the drawing beforehand, the execution has to be totally spontaneous. Whenever I admire pen drawings, I feel that spontaneity and power and grace and control. (Thus my absolute obsession with comics and graphic novels.)

“Angel and Still Life” is my favorite pen drawing. The thick brush-strokes juxtaposed against the thin, reedy pen lines gives the picture interest and dimension. The composition is uncluttered and balanced. The predominance of white space makes me think of a fresh, bright room with light spilling from open windows.

And then there is the imagery itself. Is it a contrast between the commonplace and the miraculous? Or an equivalence? I love the idea that the supernatural invests itself in mundane life and vice versa.

And I just adore that homely, sleepy angel.

What are your favorite drawings or things about drawing? Please share.


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