In the Studio – What is Drawing?

Drawing – A picture or diagram made with a pencil, pen, or crayon rather than paint. The art or activity of making drawings (Oxford, 2016).

Whilst creating my web it became clear that the act of making was quite preformative in itself. I say ‘making’ as I am quite apprehensive in referring to what I have been doing in the studio as ‘drawing’.

Drawing has played a vital role in our development not only as people but as a species, from scribbling with crayons to the formation of visual vocabulary, drawing is deeply rooted in humankind.

With each new development the defining factors of what art is are pushed once more and so it surely must follow that the definition of drawing has come to evolve too. It is on this topic that Laura Spencer writes:

“According to most traditional definitions, Drawing is an image making process, utilizing various marks (typically) in dry media (i.e. graphite, charcoal, inks, and/or colored pencils) on paper. But, just as the definition of “Art” has moved from the concrete to the highly abstract, any aggregate that could be made about what a Drawing really is, has blurred dramatically. Drawings can be made using any and every media available; from paint and brush, to sculptural relief, graphic shapes and digital renderings. It could be said that a Drawing is defined primarily by the creator. With such a subjective approach however, you may stir up a rather heated discussion amongst the most haughty of any given art scene”(Spencer, 2013).

I agree with Spencer, drawing has evolved so much so that it stood up and left paper behind long ago. Perhaps now we should redefine and accept drawing as the mark making process, regardless of media used and surface inhabited. Whilst I agree that drawing is defined by the creator I do feel that a line has to be established between drawing and painting (if only to be broken or questioned later), we must also take into account the act of the mark making. Further investigation of the mark making process may give further answers as to what category a mark falls into, although perhaps now outdated through my own argument, drawing has predominantly been associated with producing a single line at a time, much in the same way that my web has been produced but differing to the marks made by paintbrushes and their multiples bristles.

If I may now move to sculpture and installation, can this be drawing? Elizabeth Murton argues that her 2006 piece, The Playing Frame, “is a sculpture and a drawing. It can change through participant interaction. It consists of a wooden sculpture, instructional illustrations and bags containing fabric shapes, ropes and bendy poles. The wooden part of the sculpture is continuous, like a drawn line that is moving over the floor, around the corner and two walls. The surface of the wood is punctuated regularly with holes for the poles to fit. This allows the potential participators to create different 3D aesthetic compositions” (Murton, 2007). 

Murton certainly gives some food for thought here, if we as artists are permitted to explore what drawing is then surely drawing is allowed to do some exploratory studies of its own. Paper is merely a supporting element in the drawing process, in Murton’s work the gallery space becomes the ‘paper’, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that the drawing had become sentient and escaped its confines! Murton’s drawing invites the viewer to interact with the artwork on a new level and it is through this interaction that we are making marks in the gallery environment, it allows us to explore our own preexisting ideas of space and the relationship between us and our surroundings – we are drawing and mark making in our own territory, our own reality. The drawing is no longer restricted to inhabit a fictional reality on a flat sheet.

With the previously covered points in mind I feel confident that my web is in fact a drawing. It was drawn with a (3D Printer) pen with the intention of existing on as many surfaces as the pen (and extension lead) would allow. The act of creating the web felt, to me, unmistakably like I was drawing rather than sculpting – as someone who draws prolifically often I feel I should know.

Below are two videos documenting the drawing process with my 3D printer pen.

Until next time,



Murton, E. (2007) What is drawing for? Available at: (Accessed: 11 August 2016).

Oxford (2016) ‘Drawing’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: (Accessed: 10 August 2016).

Spencer, L. (2013) ART(ICLES) – THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAWING. Available at: (Accessed: 11 August 2016).

What is drawing? – Victoria and Albert Museum (2013) Available at: (Accessed: 11 August 2016).


One thought on “In the Studio – What is Drawing?

  1. Pingback: Murrain Road, by L. B. Kitty – Book Review by Fred Patten | Dogpatch Press

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