Thursday 14 October 2010

Drawing - a thin black line

Why do we assume that we need a special talent for drawing? Often people profess to have no talent for drawing, saying – “I can’t even draw a straight line”.
When shown that they can draw – they declare that they must have a hidden talent.

We don’t make that assumption about other talents like reading. What if only those with a special talent could learn to read? The teachers would supply reading materials; not guide or instruct the class for fear of hampering creativity in reading. Then the teacher would sit back and wait to see what would happen.
The kid says, “How do I read this?” The teacher replies: “Just be free, use your imagination - reading should be fun.” Some of the class would be able to read but the rest would say: “I can’t read – I have no talent”.

We apply this strange reasoning to teaching art. We are too afraid to instruct for fear of hampering or diminishing the child’s creative spirit.
Drawing is in reality a way of learning how to see. We can learn to hone our powers of observation with the result that almost anyone can learn to draw.

In a previous post, when I was considering all the different types of media I have used over the years, I left out the two simple tools for any artist that have always been used – a lead pencil and an ink pen. I love buying new pens and pencils – I am happiest in an art supply store or even a basic stationery store. I have become addicted to finding new pens that will help me draw better.

Pier at Blankenberg
Whenever I traveled anywhere, first into the suitcase would be a sketchbook, pencils, pens and a small watercolour box and a brush or two (although I never seemed to get around to adding much colour.) 
Departing ferry, Breskens

These sketchbooks became a visual diary, capturing people and places.
Paging through them takes me back to the experience of different countries more vividly than any photograph album.

Ferry Harbour, Breskens

Pen and ink drawing can provide drama, strong contrast and fine detail. The sketch below was done in the Museum Skone Kunst, Antwerp. I came across an artist painting a copy of Fouquet's Maria and Jesus surrounded by Angels, and couldn't resist doing a sketch of her.

Sketching the copyist in Antwerp, Belgium

Recently, I have experimented with drawing on alternative surfaces such as ink on canvas or on a wooden panel, adding a new dimension to drawing.

Seeds and Leaves 382mm x 760mm  Ink on canvas
It takes courage to draw in ink – there are no second chances – no way to erase the errors. Instead, one has to really look at the subject, focus on where you want the line to go, and execute it fearlessly with a clean fluid line

Protea Cyranoides 200mm x 200mm Ink on Hahnemule paper
©2010 Carol Lee Beckx
I have always enjoyed drawing, it almost becomes a meditation as you hatch the lines to create tone, or trace a fine thread of ink across the paper to show a delicate outline.

David Lloyd George said: “Anything can be achieved in small deliberate steps. But there are times you need the courage to take a great leap; you can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps”


  1. Like them all - but especially the seeds and leaves and the protea

  2. Thanks, Helen. The two you like are recent drawings - the sketches go back to 1992!

  3. ilove drawing with ink pens, my new year's resolution will be to keep a sketchbook going all year!