Drawing: The Rhythm in the Line and Shape

Let The Drawing Make The Drawing

One of the things that I love to do is to sit and draw on smaller drawing pads. This is because they fit in my pocket. I keep these sketchbooks up on some shelves next to the chair I sit in while watching television. I just keep drawing and sketching, once a sketchbook is full, I put it up in the stack.

When drawing these sketches, one of the things I’m always looking for is what’s happening in terms of the line and the shape. For me, it’s all about keeping that rhythm while drawing. As I work, I may want to thicken some areas to give it a little more form. But essentially, it’s the line that I want to keep going. The shapes fit what I am trying to say or express, for example, about a figure or a head study.

drawing in sketchbook
Dick Crispo draws in graphite in one of his many sketchbooks
Using a watercolor brush to add tonal washes to the aqua graphite

This type of drawing is an automatic type of drawing. It’s like what the French call ‘automisation’, which was their version of automatic drawing. In automatic drawing, you are drawing in one continuous line moving the pencil without conscious thought. This automatic drawing was very popular in the 1920s. 

My technique is all about letting my art, my hand, and my fingers and the pencil just roll together, keeping that movement. With automatic drawing, I don’t know where I’m going, I’m just letting go. I’m not trying to control. But, I want to make it happen in a way that works together.

Sometimes, I may use some objects (such as my masks) for reference, but I really just like working quickly. So, I just start drawing, paying attention to the rhythm of the drawing, trying to maintain it. There are times when I like to move outside of the main form of the drawing as it emerges. Doing this allows me to break it up, add some contrast.

Rhythm is a very important part of the drawing process for me. The rhythm tells me the shape and the shape tells me the rhythm. There’s a lot of back and forth in the process. I usually fill up two or three of these sketchbooks a week. This helps to keep my head fresh and not let my brain go stale.

I don’t want my head or my eyes to ever go stale! What I mean by this is I try to keep myself from thinking I have the entire art piece made up in my head. I like to have some of this automatic drawing involved in my process. With this process, I let the drawing make the drawing. cropped-dick-crispo-favicon_.png

The many sketchbooks of Dick Crispo

Below is artwork by Dick Crispo featured in the drawing demonstration.

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