What defines GOOD drawing? Is this question valid?

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  07 July 2006
What defines GOOD drawing? Is this question valid?

how do you know if your good at drawing? does it mean that you can draw out of your head, like just some random person your thinking of perfectly. Or does it mean that you can draw life very accurately? Is this even a fair question or am i just reading too much into this and missing the obvious answer of "If it looks good then you can draw, duh!" Maybe this is more of a philisophical search to find why masters are so great...any takers?
  07 July 2006
Good drawing comes out of practice and experience. It's really independent of style ~ if someone has practiced and studied for years, it will show in their work, regardless of the style. Masters like Carmean, Hogarth, Loomis, Bridgeman (on the educational front) draw well because they have honed their craft over decades of practice.

There is a standard art school axiom which is that it takes 10 years to learn how to draw (traditionally) and 7 if you're a genius. I really do think that it takes that long to learn traditional drawing. People are able to progress much faster digitally, but it's best I think to learn traditional drawing and painting first, since it is so much harder to do, and therefore challenges and teaches you more.

There is another axiom which is that you must do hundreds and thousands of bad drawings before you get to the good ones. That, too, I've found to be true. No one has a magical hand, and all good work is a result of practice and dedication.

Think of learning to draw in the same terms as a dancer in training. No dancer dances well without hundreds of hours of practice. It's the same with visual art.

There are no set rules for what makes a 'good' drawing. Certainly people will disagree as to what is 'good' and what is 'bad'. I think a good drawing is one that you recognize as such. As you learn more, you will naturally revise your evaluation of what is good and bad about your own work.



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Last edited by Rebeccak : 07 July 2006 at 03:39 AM.
  07 July 2006
My Thoughts

I agree wholeheartedly with Rebecca. Visual Artist geniouses simply do not occur the way someone like Mozart occurs.

I think that there needs to be a balance between technical skill and having a fundamental message. There are tons of people who have their craft well honed and can draw their asses off, but say nothing that emotionally resonates with the viewer. Conversely, there are people who have something to say, but either lack or do not need practiced skill to get their point across.

I think that for most people there should be a balance. You should be able to draw accurately enough. If it looks bad, it is bad. The degree of refinement you apply to your drawings should be in conjunction with what you're trying to say with them. Learning to draw is like learning a vocabulary or a language. If you are speaking to someone, you make a judgement about what you want to say to them and what is the best way to get your point across. You can be verbose and show off how many words you know to say something simple, or you can be clear and direct. Either way you are saying the same thing, and you ultimately must make a judgement on the best way to say it.

So in my opinion, how you draw, should be determined by what you are trying to say with your drawing. Look at it this way: Pavoratti vs. Eminem. Which is the right way?
My Sketchbook Site
  07 July 2006
The expression

Thanks for the gems of info Rebeccak. I feel as thought I am missing the point of searching for better ways to draw and it's slowing me down.

I agree with you Pixel. I suppose art can be gauged by how someone reacts to your vision, if at all. If the piece doesnt evoke a persons perspective to come out, then it can be regarded as a failure. I think a good piece of art must move someone other than the artist. drawing is ,after all only a venue to the goal which is expression. So maybe it doesn't matter as much as I assumed it did.

Last edited by ha-dou-ken : 07 July 2006 at 08:04 AM.
  07 July 2006
Agreeing with Rebecca and Pixel. I think that while it is of course personal taste ultimately that causes someone to define a drawing as "good", it will also be judged on the same criteria:

Subject matter (very subjective...more meaningful and profound or big tits extravaganza?)
Technique (again, subjective...some may prefer more artsy looseness, some technical rendering)
Accuracy (even in stylised paintings, does it work?)
Colours (there most certainly are good and bad colour choices - unusual combinations can work, but an all out over saturated neon monstrousity or the like...well...thats just plain bad Though I'm pretty sure there are some peope who can make anything work).

Eh...actually...I'm not as sure now where I was going with this as I was when I started posting hehe...I'll post it anyway though, maybe someone who is more eloquent that myself will get my point even if I've forgotten what it was.

Last edited by Elsie : 07 July 2006 at 08:13 AM.
  07 July 2006
Everything that has been said above.... and eat plenty of this stuff:

Trust me.
  09 September 2006
Originally Posted by Rebeccak: There is a standard art school axiom which is that it takes 10 years to learn how to draw (traditionally) and 7 if you're a genius.

30 years in my case, i only been alive for 20...

just dont stop doing it man. i find if i think too hard about drawing i get caught up in the technical things and as a result the creativity flows like rocks.

keep your drawings, even the bad ones. then when you feel down about where your at with your work, pull those old suckers out and marvel at the progression.

my 2 cents
  09 September 2006
thanks for the $.02

I bought Drawing on the right side of the brain. I'm so happy now. Also, the Zen of Seeing is a great book by Frederick Franck. Yummy.
Thanks so much everyone.
  10 October 2006
"Good" and "bad" are subjective terms. (Well, that's not quite how I feel about ethics, but that's a whole 'nother story...) There is no such thing as absolutely good art or absolutely bad art.

There are three factors to consider--the viewer's reaction, the artist's enjoyment, and the technical correctness of the piece. A piece that fails on all three counts is, yes, a failure; it's bad art if anything is. But a piece that does well on one or more of these three fronts is successful on some level and could be called "good art" simply because it has a purpose for existing.

Then again, many artists spend time working on studies that no one enjoys viewing, that they themselves don't enjoy creating, and that display limited technical proficiency. Yet these can still be useful because they teach the artist something for the future. Are these pieces of art "good"?

Art contests are generally judged on the first and third factors I mentioned, but these are subjective because different audiences have different reactions and artistic rules are made to be broken.

Ultimately, art is good if it pleases the person currently interacting with it. It may be good to one person and bad to another. When we speak of improving our own art, what we really mean is improving the overall experiences of the viewer and of the artist, often through increasing our understanding of the "rules."
Think you've discovered a great new technique for painting in Photoshop? Stop by the CGWiki article and tell the world.
  10 October 2006
Data, Fantastic reply! Bravo!

This answer has exposed me to a new facet of interpretation. I really enjoy this answer a lot! Like my-new-wallpaper a lot...
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