Friday, August 17, 2018

Drawing Conclusions

Thumbnail drawing for
a commemorative logo

Copyright © Edward Riojas

Once upon a time I was a drawing major. Bearing that in mind, one would think that I would be a bit more protective of the myriads of drawings I still produce. I was painfully reminded of this recently, when for some inexplicable reason I destroyed a small set of preliminary drawings for a project. I then had to apologize, after the fact, to a would-be-client interested in buying one of those very drawings.

It is a sad fact that drawings are often treated as a means to an end. They are either the first dumping grounds for an idea, or else they are the final visualization of a composition before transferring to a painting or sculpture. Drawings most often are merely an artist’s editing tool, but they are more.

As high art, they can be exquisite things, with humble materials belying the work of a master. One need only peruse the drawings of Hans Holbein the Younger or Auguste Dominique Ingres to wonder why the artists even bothered with paint. Drawings needn’t be the poor cousins of other masterworks. Most often, however, they are treated as the household staff.

In apologizing for the destruction of my own work, I was also forced to accept the fact that the preliminary drawing was indeed stronger than its final execution. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. There is a quality inherent in drawing that is sometimes missing in other artistic disciplines – the evidence of struggle within the artist’s mind. The marks that make up a drawing can show bold confidence, delicate sensitivity, or muddled indecision. They are at their best when marks create an exact impression without visually spelling things out. It becomes nearly impossible, at that point, to duplicate the drawing’s strength in a different medium, no matter how much more “noble” that medium.

Obviously, this is a bit hard to qualify, so instead of writing further chapters on the subject, I’ve decided to let you wander through a few of my preparatory drawings. They are from past works, as well as current and future projects. The drawings were either buried under other documents or were under glass or were under a blanket of dust. They sometimes show thoughts surrounding the image. At other times they show thinking beyond the image, and give a good indication of the more mundane and calculating places where an artist’s mind must also wander...

Conceptual drawings (and an apparently difficult math problem) for the frame of "Under Slottet Bron."

Conceptual drawing for frame of "Adoremus"

Frame design for "Madonna and Child," Christ Lutheran Church, Orland Park, Ill.

Preparatory drawing for "The Prodigal Son," The Gerbens Collection, Calvin College.
I only noticed at this writing that I had drawn an "Ace" playing card tucked into his belt.
That detail was deleted in the final painting.

Frame design for "Owashtanong," Private collection.

Preparatory drawing for a current Ecclesiastical Sewing project

Preparatory drawing for "Under Slottet Bron."

Preparatory drawing for a future Ecclesiastical Sewing project.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the insight, Ed! Woodworkers are also encouraged to keep a sketchbook of ideas as they develop a piece. Sometimes many iterations....