Walk: Fillmore Street
Distance: 2 miles and home yoga practice
Ciwt thought she detected rolled eyeballs when she asked the gallery manager "What is drawing?" Maybe it wasn't exasperation over a stupid question but a genuine reaction to the complexity that is the answer. Drawing turns out to be a very vague term indeed and difficult to define. Not a single, unchanged entity, it's an activity that's continuously mutable, constantly adapting to new forms, emerging technologies and conceptual attitudes.
It certainly includes mark making which most children do and where Ciwt's skills have found their current limit: . Somewhere in her childhood, getting a roof right was quite a shock to her visual and motor skills and the beginning of her understanding that drawing is about skills she didn't know about yet and would have to be taught. For whatever reasons she chose to stay pretty close to stick figures and arrows on simple maps to give directions to friends.
But of course throughout history and to this day many - in and out of the art world - have developed their drawing skills. These are the people who have made cartoons for tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, created visual maps. In early civilizations drawing and language developed together, as calligraphy did in China. Drawing is part of many worlds besides fine arts: architecture, medicine, advertising, science to name a few. And many cultures such as Maori body tattooing. And it's definition, scope, materials, surfaces keep expanding with technology as perfectly illustrated here in San Francisco recently with David Hockey's huge and proficient iPad drawings. *
When Ciwt thinks of drawing it is usually in a Western fine art context where drawing was THE fundamental skill. Particularly with the development of Art Academies during the renaissance, drawing courses which taught techniques (eg, perspective and foreshortening) for naturalistic, three-dimensional representation were mandatory for several years before the student could move on to the 'significant artwork' of painting or sculpting. When artists did move on, they used various media to draw on boards and later paper to generate ideas and solve problems, such as composition and layout.
But the drawings remained with the artist as tools; no patron would consider drawing to be a collectible art form. This began to change during the eighteenth century when artists such as William Hogarth and Francisco de Goya engaged in caricature** to comment on the changing social and political conditions arising from industrialization and urbanization. Concurrently there were developments in printmaking which enabled the circulation of such work in newspapers and leaflets. Then came the camera, film, the whole modernist movement where drawing, individual expression, painting, sculpting, technology became and are becoming more and more intertwined. And the question "What is drawing?" became more and more elusive - and growing more so every day.
*David Hockney, Yosemite National Park, iPad drawing
**William Hogarth, Columbus Breaking the Egg, 1752
***Lascaux Cave Painting
****Leonardo da Vinci, Horse drawing for sculpture, ca 1462
*****Pablo Picasso, Guernica Sketch 6, 1937 (CIWT To be continued.....?)