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Andrew Kelly
Andrew Kelly

Traditional Tools Contemporary Artists Use Draw

Some view technology as a threat to originality and as seeking to replace traditional artmaking. This idea can certainly be worrisome for art teachers. However, studies suggest the use of digital tools in art education increases artistic development and creativity. In a digital age, art teachers feel the need now more than ever to advocate for their programs. A digital arts curriculum can serve as a powerful advocacy tool.

traditional tools contemporary artists use draw

Digital art requires no less skill than traditional artmaking, but it does require a different mode of thinking. Yes, a digital device will have the ability to make a stroke look and layer like watercolor or give the texture of drawing with charcoal. However, when one learns traditional art techniques, they gain a deeper understanding of the materials and what they can do.

The British Museum holds more than two million prints and 50,000 drawings in its collection. While lots of people know about the Museum's outstanding works by Rembrandt and Dürer, they might be less familiar with the contemporary parts of the collection. Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now is the Museum's first exhibition to focus on this aspect of the collection, selected from more than 1,500 contemporary works. It's been a real pleasure to bring these diverse and thought-provoking drawings to a wider audience around the UK as the show travels to Durham, Stromness, Swansea and Barnsley.

Contemporary artists have often used drawing to think through questions of identity. One of the most glittering works in the show (literally!) is an early drawing by British artist Grayson Perry, made with collage, crayons and silver glitter. While he is better known as a potter (we also have his ceramic works in the collection) this drawing was made long before he won the Turner Prize in 2003. This is one of the earliest representations of his transvestite alter-ego Claire, dressed in a hoodie and rah-rah skirt. While the photographs are roughly cut from magazines (like the feminine lingerie model, or the pendant nestling in manly chest hair) Claire is much more carefully drawn and seems to take a dim view of these clichéd symbols of normative gender.

Another artist who uses drawing to explore questions of identity is the Nigerian-American artist Marcia Kure. Contemporary artists have made drawings using unusual materials including make-up, hair and blood. As well as gouache and watercolour, Kure uses traditional pigments such as coffee and kolanut. She also uses elements typical of traditional Nigerian Uli art, practiced by Igbo women to decorate bodies and buildings, such as sinuous line and attention to negative space (there's no background to the figure in this drawing, for example). Kure's combination of colour, pattern and form suggests the way history and culture shape who we are, and having spoken about the difficulties of leaving Nigeria to live in America, the artist has described her work as 'an argument for people who do not have a defined place'.

Drawing is an inherently time-based practice, as opposed to the instantaneousness of photography, for example, and it's no wonder that contemporary artists have used drawing to think about the workings of time and memory. One drawing concerned with the act of remembering, by Belgian artist Jan Vanriet, depicts Ruchla, a young girl who, along with more than 25,000 other people, was deported by the Nazis from Dossin barracks in Mechelen, Belgium, to the death camps of Auschwitz. The drawing is based on a black and white photograph, and is rendered in slightly acidic watercolour, the most fugitive (or light sensitive) of mediums. Details such as her open smile, and the broad ribbon pulling back her hair, attempt to restore her humanity in the face of the devastating scale of Nazi atrocities, offering a poignant and evocative memorial.

The process began with the partner curators visiting the British Museum to view works in the Departments of Prints and Drawings, Asia and the Middle East. After viewing drawings in the collection and using our database and Collection online to view other works, we discussed themes and currents in contemporary drawing, and decided which would be most relevant to our various audiences.

Up until the 1960s, drawing as a medium was seen as a lesser form by many. Within the process of art-making, drawing was placed in the category of secondary art. However, now a new generation of artists strive to push the limits of drawing. Artists are constantly redefining how the medium is seen and experienced by the contemporary art world. In recent years, artists have begun to push the boundaries of the meaning and ethos of contemporary drawing. Many artists continue to use traditional tools and techniques, including pens, pencils or brushes. However, a plethora of different techniques are now used to create exciting and radicalised forms of drawing. These include processes such as scratching, cutting, burning, sticking, sewing and writing. As well as this, for many artists performance is now involved in the drawing process.

For this article, we delve into the world of contemporary drawing and explore the intriguing work of artist Vija Celmins, David Musgrave, Marcia Kure and Unframe artist Rachel Duckhouse, to name just a few.

Contemporary drawing most often blurs the line between itself and other mediums such as land art, sculpture and performance. With this purpose in mind, contemporary artists have often used drawing to think through questions of identity, place, time, memory, power and protest, to name just a few. Drawing is used by many to reinvigorate and re-think the realm of image-making. We look at a selection of artists who produce finished and carefully formed contemporary drawings. A disregard for cliché ideas is often present in the work of contemporary artists who draw. Without a doubt, there is a shared passion for tentative gestures, as well as time and skill invested in each drawing.

British artist Peter Peri works across painting, drawing and sculpting. Most often, his work deals with direction and accumulation in relation to line. Although the subject of his work is thought to focus on dissolution and in particular, the fetishisation of this within the modern world. His contemporary drawing seems to inhabit an entirely different era to when they are made. Peri illustrates the emergence of the modern world in his alluring drawn works, capturing one which is radical and glamorous. He works with dense and bold lines, subsequently creating a powerful and physical presence on the paper.

Throughout her ever-changing drawing sources, Skaer keeps a reoccurring concern with landscapes and our relationship to them. In her drawing, she refers to the meaning of her work as being abstract and constantly evolving. In composition, her contemporary drawing is meticulous made and intricate it its outcome. Skaer transforms materials and ideas in her exploration of transitory states, the present and past.

Latvian American artist Vija Celmins predominantly creates photo-realistic drawings of phenomena including the ocean, rocks, spider webs and stars fields. Above all, Celmins is interested in images and this began through her use of magazines and books as a source of inspiration during the 1960s. At the time, she was making sculptures based on everyday objects alongside artists such as Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton. Both of these artists who were known as pop artists used these sources to comment on popular culture and consumerism. However, Celmins chose to focus on the experimentation with object scale and size. In this case, she would often warp depictions of objects, detaching them from their original function.

Joonhong Min is a visual artist based in London and Seoul. For his contemporary drawing, he explores the competitive nature of major cities and urban living. Min captures chronic feelings of anxiety and living with people obsessed with success. As well as this, he explores ideas of falling behind in the competition and alienation from others. Min deals with this urban life that elevates the chronic anxiety as a main theme in his work.

On the surfaces of his contemporary drawing, he unfolds his impression of cities with ink pen. The consistent thickness of the line, tightly drawn into hatches with ink pen, fills the surface in an even manner particular to this medium. Min creates these monochromatic pen drawings with various thicknesses of pencil and infinite colours of painting pigments. He expresses these by methodic composition of lines. He creates his final outputs which are arranged in installations, they are responding to real space.

You might think learning how to draw illustration and manga will take a long time, but painting software is a good starting point for drawing illustrations.Painting software refers to a software for creating art on a computer. People also call it painting tools or drawing software. This kind of software allows even beginners to enter the world of drawing in ease!

(2) No need to pay for art supplies If you want to draw an illustration or a manga in a traditional way, you have to prepare many things, such as pencil, eraser, inking pen, felt pen, paper, ink, screen tones, paints, and fixers.

In addition, there are many screen tone materials, which will help you draw characters with gorgeous kimonos or dresses in ease. The great variation in background materials can help people who are not used to drawing backgrounds. With these tools, you can draw more quickly compared to traditional tools.

In this section, I will introduce the advantages that only exist in traditional drawing. Learning the advantages of both digital and traditional drawing before you start drawing in digital will help you improve your skills faster.

On the other hand, your sketch will not disappear in middle of working in traditional drawing. Although your drawing may gradually lose color or quality, it is highly unlikely that everything will disappear. It is also unlikely that you will lose multiple illustrations at once.


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