Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Practice and Science of Drawing

Recently while at the Goodwill, my husband discovered a book called “The Practice and Science of Drawing” by Harold Speed. Though I am merely past the introduction, I was immediately moved. How often do we have ideas and no words to articulate them? Then I find a guy like Harold Speed and it’s like meeting an old friend. Though written nearly a hundred years ago (1917), his words are as true today as ever.

Harold begins by talking about the difference of art that is only technically correct versus art inspired by something deeper, by referring to ‘works showing much ingenuity and ability, but no artistic intention’ ‘The best things in an artist’s work are so much a matter of intuition’ and then he continues explaining that ‘intuitions are shy things and apt to disappear if looked into too closely’

For a long time I’ve found myself trying to explain just this; that there is so much more to art than merely capturing the world. But how do you explain the difference between an artwork created with great talent and masterly precision but a mere replication of the subject versus an artwork in which the artist poured his heart and soul?

Harold says that ‘the facts of life are conveyed by our senses to the consciousness within us, and stimulate the world of thought and feeling that constitutes our real life… Pure intellect seeks to construct from the facts brought to our consciousness by the senses, an accurately measured world… The artistic intelligence is not interested in things from this standpoint of mechanical accuracy, but in the effect of observation on the living consciousness’

‘It is not enough in artistic drawing to portray accurately and in cold blood the appearance of objects. To express form, one must first be moved by it’

Enough said.

12 x 12"
Mixed media
Not titled yet


Andrew said...

What a coincidence. I just read a blog about this book yesterday.

I absolutely agree with you that a great artist goes beyond mastery of the technical skills.

Dave Levingston said...


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful find at the Goodwill!
Truly magnificent!


Antoine de Villiers said...

Andrew, what an interesting coincidence!
Thanks for commenting, Dave & Michael.

Ann said...

Love this piece you posted here, it's mood, limited use of colour...