I believe drawing is the
single most important skill for any visual artist to acquire, whether they are a painter,
illustrator, graphic designer, or fashion designer. It is simply the act of
"seeing" made visual. When one learns how to draw, what they are really
learning is the ability to see more clearly and communicate what they see or can imagine.
As such, drawing is a
tool for study, and communication even before it is a tool for making art.
Some Superb Draftsmen
( & things they are especially good at )
Honore Daumier (gesture)
Alphonse Mucha (line quality & design)
Michelangelo (modeling of forms)
Adolphe Bougereau (sensitivity)
Questions & Answers
...Which painters would you
suggest studying and for what?
From assorted students.
Here's a starter list...examples for most of them can be found at The Artchive:
John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla, Frank Duveneck, William
All painterly, "virtuso" brushwork guys...but with great values in their
(the guy that the above guys were looking at...and why they were good.)
(in a class by himself, doing what he does as well as anyone ever has.
PARTICULARLY how he handles low key lighting for dramatic effect and
how he works his edges. )
If all you did was study those guys, you'd be doing great...but here's more
to look at for other things:
Odd Nerdrum and Lucien Freud
(the equivalent descendents of the above. In fact, they studied all of
the above very closely, especially Velazquez and Rembrandt. Both are great
"painterly" painters, and Freud's paintings are a clinic on how any palette,
however ugly and drab, can result in beautiful work if used properly. Nobody gets
more mileage out of greys. Both are very "visceral" painters...look at the
color and textural variety in their flesh tones.)
Ilya Repin, Valentin Serov, (and many other 19th century Russians),
J.W. Waterhouse, and Bouguereau.
(A clinic in classical painting skills. All are extraordinary
well-trained if maybe a little conservative. Bouguereau's drawing and tonal skills
are unmatched, Repin, Shishkin are great realists (think Norman Rockwell but meatier),
Waterhouse is the weakling in this crowd, but he's still among the best of the genre.)
J.M.W. Turner, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederic Church,
Constable, Ivan Shishkin
(The Kings of dramatic landscape painting and especially atmospheric
perspective. Anyone entertaining a career as a background painter should spend a
couple years studying all of these guys, but especially Church, Moran, and Bierstadt as
they essentially "perfected" the genre. Turner was far ahead of his time
and Constable was also excellent, but they are harder to pin down. Well worth some
study though. Shishkin is a straight ahead realist, Bierstadt without the brass band
and fireworks, but boy is he good at it.)
Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha
(Great designers. Klimt uses space and
pattern with intermittant modelling as well as anybody. Mucha doesn't have anything
he's the best at, except maybe art nouveau design...what makes him amazing though is he's
just about as good as the best people doing everything else! His drawings are up
there with the best draftsmen, his color is equally good, his compositions, tonal
understanding, etc. etc. The guy doesn't have a weakness except maybe as a
"bravura" painter he's a little flat. He's the 98mph fastball pitcher who
bats .295 from both sides of the plate. Nauseatingly versatile.)
Edward Hopper, Degas, Andrew Wyeth
(All masterful with composition and color. Wyeth is also a very
aggressive painter despite appearances. He really gets into the painting and shows
it who's boss. Very honest and direct.)
That should get you started...there's lots more, but I think of these folks
as the art history painting highlight reel.
...What purpose does
drawing have for artists today?
From Carole (Shropshire, United Kingdom)
I think people often
misrepresent drawing as a medium, or group of mediums, rather than an activity. I
see drawing as the visual equivalent of language. It is simply the way we
communicate ideas visually through a series of marks on a ground. So to rephrase the
question, it is a little
like asking "What purpose does speaking have for people today?" For both,
the answer I would give is the communication of information. This information can
take the form of ideas, thoughts, commentary, entertainment, or just literal facts, but
for all of these, drawing is just the mode of transmission. How artfully this is
done is another, separate, issue.
In the case of artists specifically, it is the fastest and most
efficient way to represent an idea visually. Far more immediate than any other way
of doing it, a quickly drawn sketch or thumbnail is usually the "first look" an
artist has at how they might execute an idea.