Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drawing, craft vs. art

I had heard a Pafa instructor refer to printmaking as the "craft extension of drawing". Clearly, the inclusion of the world "craft" was meant to convey lesser status and significance.  Of course, we do notice that there is a lot of process involved in printmaking, and we notice that this process lends a certain look to printed material. Wood cuts often have the "wood cut" look... and etchings, with their fine lines and such are said to look like etchings. Furthermore, when we approach printmaking, it seems important to understand the medium, because the medium is part of our creative process, and adds much to the final affect.

But is it any different for drawing? Is there any artistic medium that does not impart some process, and therefore some "look" on the finished product. Mediums such as charcoal, conte, or pastel certainly have a look to them, and their use (in practice) seems to have matured to the point where one can say, "That's a typical charcoal drawing", or "That's a well done pastel drawing".... all of which are recognition NOT of the drawing, but of the medium itself. To that extent, how are they different from the the printmaker's reliance on process? There is plenty of process and technique involved in using charcoal, despite the fact that instructors seem to view it as a foregone conclusion that one can intuitively use charcoal to it's optimal effect.

So, where is the drawing medium that doesn't have process... or "craft extension" to it? Where is the medium that doesn't reveal itself in the finished image, such that the viewer could never know what it was made from, or what "type of drawing" it was?

A simple Number-Two pencil seems to be a likely candidate for simplicity, in as much as it simply creates a thin grey line. Because the medium gives so little, it would seem that the artist has to invent all the affects. Surely this is a "pure" drawing medium. The same might be said for an ink pen. But the rub here is that the artist, in being forced to invent so much with line, will reveal that he was working with a linear tool. Further, the image will reveal this linear tool, either by the scarcity of masses, or by masses composed of the dense accumulation of line, which is itself a technique.

There is NO drawing without a drawing medium, and all mediums have craft element... a drawing identity.

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