As with paintings, drawings are one of the oldest art forms around and can be traced back to prehistoric times. Before the advent of paper in the 14th century, drawings were made on parchment and silver was also used to make under-drawings.

Drawing was and still is a popular method for artists to create preparatory studies. Examples of preparatory work are often a good way to see the artist’s initial observations and ideas before they commit to the final markings in their work.

A drawing is defined as a two-dimensional medium where an image is depicted on a flat surface by making lines and areas of tone through shading. Artists generally use pencil, ink, pastels, crayon, chalk and charcoal to create line and shading. A more painterly effect can be created in a drawing by using watercolour pencils.

A rarer method is metal point drawing which involves using a stylus with a point made from gold, silver, cooper or lead pressed on a paper/parchment surface, which has been coated with a paste of crushed eggshell or bone. When drawing across the surface with the stylus tiny particles are left and these naturally tarnish, turning the indentations in the paper into darker lines.

The idea and execution of drawing has remained unchanged for a thousand years. As such, it is an activity that connects us directly in an unbroken line with the first human who sketched in dirt or scratched on the wall of a cave…

Emma Dexter Curator of Contemporary Art, Tate Modern, London

Owning Art: The Contemporary Art Collector’s Handbook by Louisa Buck and Judith Greer, Cultureshock Media, 2006

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