It starts with a drawing

See if this resonates with your curious minds…on my recent newsletter I posted a video about this whole subject of starting with a drawing. Why? Well, I think you’d agree that failure is a true possibility with any artistic endeavor, but to reduce your odds, you will fair better with a well-considered working drawing. And starting with a bit of noodling is just fine . Doodle on!

Richard Serra, famous sculptor with numerous monumental public artworks,  states that “it’s a place where I can get lost, and a place where I can throw out work, and a place where I don’t have to worry about what it is I’m up to.”  (Artforms, 12th edition, Drawing).  Here’s an example of a Serra drawing…see if you can make anything out of it.


It’s not that any of us are born with innate drawing skills (well maybe Picasso, for one) but, as with all skills, it takes work, repetitive work.  Look at Louise Despont’s drawing here. The drawing is the final and only medium she uses. It is complete, it is conceptual, and it is full of endlessly repetitive marks.

For me, it’s a means to an end. I do a thumbnail first, or maybe a whole page of thumbnails. Then it’s a matter of a larger sketch with the values roughed in. Where are the darks, the lights and the mid-values. And finally, the first working sketch, which is subject to lots of abuse, cutting apart, and lining over. I put the second or third rendition up on a wall and live with it for a couple of days, grabbing a dark pencil to modify one little section or a tangent of lines that don’t meet up well.


Watch this, you’ll understand better how this final image, Summer, came about. Again, and again, with every idea, I start with a drawing…and then another, etc etc.

One final thought. When it comes to art making of any form be it written, composed or drawn, it’s not a matter of talent as much as well developed skills that makes your creation remarkable. The question is, do you have the time? Failure is an option but don’t throw that one away…keep it for writing letters on. Cheers!

Here's the link for the final print 'Summer' 

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