On today’s computers with their incredible drawing power, is there really any need for art students to learn traditional drawing techniques? Well, yes there is!
Learning the basics
Being taught the basics; pen and ink or pencil drawing, handling watercolours, oil painting. The lesson in figurative drawing, still life and landscapes gives the student a good artistic grounding. It’s the very essence of being an artist, whether you eventually decide to create installations, paint abstract pictures, chip away at chunks of marble or design by computer, it all starts with understanding your environment.
Being able to reproduce a texture, shadow or outline with nothing more sophisticated than a pencil gives you a direct connection to your surroundings. You gain an appreciation in a way that is just not possible by clicking an appropriate icon on a software program. You are directly in touch with your world.
Connecting with your art
Art is so much more than just mark making, it is about reaching out, in a very real way and touching your surroundings. This is only truly possible by observing and recording it. Drawing helps train the mind, eye and hand capture nature’s beauty in a way that is connected and personal.
The skill of drawing represents the earliest form of recorded communication and drawing gives vent to our expressive selves. Our ancestors, living in caves drew, showing their landscapes and animals. And today, whether fine art, craftwork, telephone conversation doodles or simple mindless vandalism, we still have a desire to produce images.
The thrill of drawing
Drawing software can certainly produce subtle, flowing lines, perfect circles and deep, dark shadows. However, the process cannot compete with the thrill of mixing the exact hue or reproducing the curve of a piece of fresh fruit. There is a zen-like moment, an elemental feeling, when the artist is in tune with the world and is producing a magnificent harmony.
I am not against using computer designing at all and I do think that they are capable of rendering wonderful results. It’s just that I also think that it’s important for art students to do their time before the easel, tube in hand and charcoal streaked across the cheek. Getting down and dirty with your art is the only sure way to learn and love the process.
Drawing on experience
Not experiencing the art of drawing is to miss out on the tactile, sensual interaction with your surroundings in a way that cannot be replicated by computers. It should form an essential part of the education curriculum and be encouraged as a social pastime. After all, Art is Fun!