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Drawing is one of the oldest forms of visual expression. It may even predate language as we know it today. Some of our oldest records of human civilisation come in the form of drawings made on cave walls tens of thousands of years ago. Since those early days, artists have found an amazing range of ways to make marks in all sorts of mediums. From cave walls to pottery to paper and now digital displays, drawing has persisted and evolved. In the art, world drawings are all too often viewed as something to be moved past. Paintings and sculptures are seen as finished products while drawings are looked at as just a step in the process. But drawings can stand just fine on their own; one only needs to look at some of the most powerful and long-lasting drawings created by artists to understand this fact.
It should be noted that the line between drawing and painting isn’t always so clear-cut. Most people understand that marks made with a lead pencil are drawings while those made with paint and a paintbrush are paintings, but why is it that if you dip that same paintbrush in black ink, you’ll be seen as making a drawing while if you dip it in black paint, it’s a painting? Some will say that drawings are often defined by their monochrome nature, black and white rather than all the colours offered by paintings. But paintings can be black and white too. Ultimately it seems that drawings seem to be defined by the fact that they use lines to build up the ultimate image while paintings use shapes. Still, even this distinction can be shaky. It feels like these days the distinction is mainly arbitrary as people define works made with ink, graphite, charcoal, and crayon as drawings.
Mark Meets Medium
Two things are required to make a drawing, a tool for making marks and a medium to receive the marks. The most popular modern combination are graphite pencils and paper, though ink pens are also popular. But it must be stressed that all sorts of mark making tools have been made over the thousands of years that people have been drawing. The oldest drawings made on cave walls were made by people who covered their hands in a mark making medium and pressed them up against the cave walls. If you sit around a campfire with a stick in your hand, you might find yourself drawing in the dirt with the stick or sticking it in a fire and using the ashy end of the stick to draw on wood. These are valid forms of drawing. There is an almost infinite number of combinations that artists can create by combining different ways to make marks with different receptive mediums.
Most Art Drawing
Drawings don’t always get the same respect as paintings, but some drawings have become as iconic as the most popular painted works. The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci is probably the most famous of all time. It shows a nude male with his arms and legs outstretched and enclosed around a circle. It helped to capture motion and help people think about the mechanics of the human body in the days before film and animation.