Do you have to draw well before you can paint?

by pamneely on September 23, 2010

THE INNOCENT EYE
It is much better to do something you have seen for yourself, no matter how badly it is executed, than to copy from others except, of course, in order to find out how they did it. And once you have done so, go out and see something for yourself.

This honesty and simplicity of vision brings to mind artists like Henri Douanier Rousseau, Vivin and Bombois in France, Horace Pippin, Grandma Moses in the United States, Walter Grieves, Stanley Spencer, L. S. Lowry in England; artists who belong to no school and are found everywhere in the world and at any time in history. Sometimes they take up painting late in life (Rousseau, Grandma Moses) or have had an orthodox training (Stanley Spencer) or no training at all (Vivin).


There are many such artists living obscurely somewhere, working for the joy of it, for no other reward than the satisfaction of a job well and honestly done. Or, like Stanley Spencer, they have a vision that must find expression in religious themes. Perhaps, as L. S. Lowry and Grandma Moses did, they paint the place they live in as they remembered it in the past. Lowry painted Manchester and Grandma Moses New England. Vivin painted Paris and Rousseau his memories, or his dreams of the jungles of South America. The only thing they have in common is that they are completely uninfluenced by the work of other artists.

FROM DRAWING TO PAINTING

You may wonder whether I have wandered off the subject of drawing. I have and I haven’t so to speak. The differences between drawing and painting needn’t be as great as some would have us believe. The smooth transition in thought from drawing to painting is your aim. Without this you will always be conscious of the idea that drawing is drawing and painting is painting and never the twain shall meet. Drawing can be put to different uses. Drawing can make its point quicker than a painting; that is, with a few lines in the right place you have a finished idea. A painting takes a little longer to get such a result. On the other hand you can continue drawing, adding color if you wish, until it is as complete as an oil painting.

In a later chapter I have described how to arrange and design your material, studies, details and so on for finished pictures. But if you want to read it now do so by all means. I have arranged this site so that you can dip into any part at any time and it will always relate to what you have read before. In fact, the more you mix one section with another the better you will, I think, be able to relate the separate parts to the whole. For instance, what I have written about painting will very well apply to drawing as well and vice versa. The ideas contained in both activities are completely interchangeable.

The old belief that you must draw well before you should be allowed to paint is unfounded. Because there is no real difference between the two activities it doesn’t matter which one you start on first. It is a matter of temperament and choice. So if you want to skip a lot of the drawing part and would like to begin painting instead, by all means do so. You will go back to drawing without any fuss or difficulty when you have done a bit of painting.

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