It's taken me a long time to get to grips with this book
because for me it's a book of two distinct halves, one of which I like and
one of which I don't.
Subtitled ‘an exploration of the language of drawing', the useful part of the
book is the artist interviews which form a large proportion of the book.
Although some of these contain discussion to do with the drawing projects
that are also part of the book, or at the very least are thematically grouped
with drawing projects, I found the projects outlined simplistic and
over-familiar. These are drawing exercises any A Level or Foundation student
will have already have been asked to do. The commentaries, debates and
reflective discussions are far more revealing and informative about drawing
than these everyday exercises.
What I'd like to have seen more of are the types of drawings that aren't
simply representational pieces made with a pencil. Cornelia Parker's inkblot
drawings are exciting, as are Claude Heath's drawings on acrylic sculpture
and Tim Knowles 7 Windwalks in London. I'd like to have seen more of this
kind of work: most artists I know undertake work they classify as drawing,
but this often involves, collage, frottage, inks, watercolours, paints,
prints etc… undertaken as studies to or from their own or others' paintings
or sculpture, articulating variants and possibilities, used as a way to think
outside one's head. It would have been useful to to perhaps considered
systems and processes, sequences and series of work, and been offered a peek
into sketchbooks (there is a very short 2 page spread on the subject) and a
look at some collaborative work (rather than simply the final ‘communal
drawing' project which ends the book.
Perhaps what really disappoints me is the result of the drawing projects
shown in the book. They don't strike me as particularly interesting or
useful; I can't imagine where the artists who have taken part in these
workshops could go with their work, it all seems so prescribed and limited.
Perhaps the learning experience doesn't translate to the page, but I'm a
great believer in good processes yielding good results. Or perhaps I expect
too much and should be glad people are still thinking visually on paper and
This is a useful and at times exciting book, but for me it will be used as an
anthology of artist's interviews and not as a manual or handbook. The authors
here haven't quite convinced themselves to live dangerously and take on board
the lessons they have learnt from the artists they have conversed with. The workshops here are drawing
for dummies, a dumbing down rather than an inspiration.
© Rupert Loydell