Posted in Notes, Research & Reflection

Reflection on “What is drawing?”


My reconsideration of this subject started with this article:

I first considered this when I saw the following lines in the course Aims:

• have a greater understanding of what drawing is and might be
• be more aware of the performative and material aspects of drawing and their use within contemporary art practice
Foundations Drawing, An Introductory Course, p5, Open College of the Arts, Document control number: FDAIC200115

I gave it some thought at the time, but to be honest I mostly got stuck into the doing of the course. The concept came back for a while when my tutor sent me a link to the PDF of the 2015 Jerwood Drawing Prize catalogue, which I found interesting. This contains quite a few images that I would struggle to consider drawings as such. I particularly like “Moonshine, 2014 by DANIEL CRAWSHAW” which I might not have classified as a drawing previously.


So, as with some similar questions lets start with a definition of drawing:

Definition of drawing

1 :an act or instance of drawing; especially :the process of deciding something by drawing lots
2 :the art or technique of representing an object or outlining a figure, plan, or sketch by means of lines
3 :something drawn or subject to drawing: such as

a :an amount drawn from a fund
b :a representation formed by drawing :sketch


That didn’t help much, so lets turn to the V&A Museum, which includes this section:

“The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines drawing as:
‘the formation of a line by drawing some tracing instrument from point to point of a surface; representation by lines; delineation as distinguished from painting…the arrangement of lines which determine form.’

Despite this insistence on the formation of line and the implied lack of colour, few would deny that a work formed by dots or shading or wholly in line but in a range of colours is a drawing.”

The article goes on to make a series of points about drawing from the perspective of different artists across time. Although interesting, this is heading into similar territory as “What is art?”

The course has this to say about it:
“If we regard drawing simply as a way of leaving a mark, then anything and everything can be appropriated as tool, material, surface or subject. The material world has height, width, depth, surfaces, angles, lines, marks, textures, patterns and tones – all words associated with the practice of drawing.”, Foundations Drawing, An Introductory Course, p17, Open College of the Arts, Document control number: FDAIC200115

So why do I care?

My tutor implied that a drawing course can include sculpture within its scope, which left me wondering about the level of scope that exists for reinterpreting the course exercises whilst still getting a reasonable evaluation. I’m used to classification systems being fairly closed, especially when interpreting questions of this sort. This comes from my business, engineering and scientific background. In those terms artistic questions scope are more like a rough suggestion for an area of consideration than a classification. A drawing assignment might reasonably end in something that is bordering on a painting or sculpture, or even a tree blowing in the wind.

This open interpretation of meaning and scope seems to be consistent with the contemporary art world in general. I need to bear this in mind as I move on in my artistic endeavours in general, and the OCA courses in particular. A wide interpretation of any given brief is not only acceptable, but is pretty much expected.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s