After Another Hiatus- The Subsidiary Nature of Drawing


Camping at Upper Morgay, Various pencils, ink & w’colour on paper, 21x16cm

When I’m away I never stop drawing; perhaps I’m just keen to remind myself of my own existence.

However, I always consider that the real stuff takes place in the workshop. I’ve obviously now given the lie to my pretence that drawing is some kind of pure, primal activity. What I mean is that it’s good to be back to working for a purpose; that purpose being producing paintings, of course. Implicit in that “purpose” is that painting has a higher status than drawing, which in a way it has: paintings are more hard-wearing, more complex.

Getting going in the workshop has been like pulling teeth, so, rather than mither on about that, I’m going to lay out some of the process.       I know I’ve done something similar before but then I seemed to be working with some kind of direction. In this case I feel I’ve been hacking a trail.


1st Feather in Glass Drawing, Ink & wash on paper, 18x16cm


2nd Feather in Glass Drawing, Ink & gouache on paper, 18x16cm


3rd Feather in Glass Drawing, Ink, pencil & gouache on paper, 18x16cm


4th Feather in Glass Drawing, Ink & wash on paper, 17.5x11cm


Tiny Feather in Glass Painting, Oil paint on card, 11x10cm


Bigger Feather in Glass Drawing, Pencil on paper, 26.5x24cm


Feather in Glass 1, Oil paint on board, 24×22.5cm


Feather in Glass 2, Oil paint on panel, 33x30cm

It’s useful laying these out. It makes me aware that the more a painting develops (and mine tend to develop through the process of repetitive drawing rather than layering, as if all the layers are left visible at the finish) the more it becomes independent from its source. Whereas the drawings delineate and refer only to their subject, paintings offer much more. All paintings refer not just to the immediate but to every other painting and to the strange state between object and image. They give  something of emotion and otherness. Perhaps all that is, after all, is pleasure.


Filed under Art, Drawing, Painting

7 responses to “After Another Hiatus- The Subsidiary Nature of Drawing

  1. I like no.s 1 & 2 best of this whole series – even though you would have it that the paintings “offer more”. There’s sort of more of them, in my view. To use your own terms, they are closer to/ more dependent on the source. I wonder whether that’s why they attract me more? Sorry about my inability to be more erudite (-:

    • There I go, laying down the law. I suppose it’s just my romantic idea that paintings can speak from heart to heart, whereas drawing has the highly functional role of ‘drawing’ the world towards me. And, due to the object nature of paintings, are they more difficult to read as images than drawings? Dunno, really.
      As to your erudition, Suki, it is without peer

  2. Love them all !! Fabulous progression to a wonderfully atmospheric place.The water in the glass in the first drawing is terrific , you have really captured the displacement within the reflections , or rather the looking through the glass thing that happens.

  3. Thanks Noela, really good to hear from you- I’m trying to get away from transparency at the moment but keep getting drawn (no pun intended) back. It’s kindof letting the world determine the drawing.

  4. Chris Murray

    These are looking really well. I’m particularly interested by the camping one. The way the tent opens onto a confined space, contrary to the modernist trope of the window opening onto the world – usually an ‘infinite’ horizon – explored by the Nicholson’s, C.Wood, Matisse and so many more….I’m excited that you can take that idea further….bringing it up to date as it were. Those lovely big trees; could be a threat or menace to the intimacy of the space. But also they bring me to that table on the left, so wonderfully in the foreground and full of hope to me somehow. To be able to get these two elements working is a sign of maturity in the work in my opinion. Thankfully none of this occurred to you at the time; you were just getting on with the days work because its all out there when we draw it, making its own story.

    • That’s very nice of you, Chris. I like your take on the image in relation to the window view, which, in 20th C painting seemed to imply an actual or wished for ownership of the landscape. Anna came up with something called “prospect & refuge” in relation to landscape theory which is relevant, where all views can be categorised as one or the other (or both).
      You are right that it was just a bit of work- it’s wonderful how the world directs your hand if you let it. But the thing I got from it is how much Titian has defined how I look at things. This is in terms of the series of triangles anchored by the inverted ‘v’ formed by the trees and emphasised by the upright tent-pole, pretty much on the golden section. I wish I could say I did it all on purpose!
      By the way- the camp-site was fantastic!- you should stay there if you ever cycle down that way.

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