Drawing, Sketching, Doodling, Urban Sketching – What’s the Difference

Carel Fabritius

Drawing is a form of visual art in which a person uses various drawing instruments to mark paper or another two-dimensional medium. Instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, various kinds of paints, inked brushes, coloured pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, various kinds of erasers, markers, styluses, and various metals (such as silverpoint).

Drawing is used to express one’s creativity, and therefore has been prominent in the world of art. Throughout much of history, drawing was regarded as the foundation for artistic practice. Initially, artists used and reused wooden tablets for the production of their drawings.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Following the widespread availability of paper in the 14th century, the use of drawing in the arts increased. At this point, drawing was commonly used as a tool for thought and investigation, acting as a study medium whilst artists were preparing for their final pieces of work.

The Renaissance brought about a great sophistication in drawing techniques, enabling artists to represent things more realistically than before, and revealing an interest in geometry and philosophy.

Sketching

Leonardo Da Vinci

Sketching is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.

Sketches can be made in any drawing medium. The term is most often applied to graphic work executed in a dry medium such as silverpoint, graphite, pencil, charcoal or pastel. It may also apply to drawings executed in pen and ink, digital input such as a digital pen, ballpoint pen, marker pen, water colour and oil paint. The latter two are generally referred to as “water colour sketches” and “oil sketches”.

Most visual artists use, to a greater or lesser degree, the sketch as a method of recording or working out ideas. The sketchbooks of some individual artists have become very well known, including those of Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas which have become art objects in their own right, with many pages showing finished studies as well as sketches.

The ability to quickly record impressions through sketching has found varied purposes in today’s culture. Courtroom sketches record scenes and individuals in law courts. Sketches drawn to help authorities find or identify wanted people are called composite sketches. Street artists in popular tourist areas sketch portraits within minutes.

Doodling

A doodle is a drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be composed of random and abstract lines, generally without ever lifting the drawing device from the paper, in which case it is usually called a “scribble”.

Alexander Pushkin

The word doodle first appeared in the early 17th century to mean a fool or simpleton. It is the origin of the early eighteenth century verb to doodle, meaning “to swindle or to make a fool of”. The modern meaning emerged in the 1930s either from this meaning or from the verb “to dawdle”, which since the seventeenth century has had the meaning of wasting time or being lazy.

According to a study published in the scientific journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain’s processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little and helps focus on the current situation.

Alexander Pushkin’s notebooks are celebrated for their superabundance of marginal doodles, which include sketches of friends’ profiles, hands, and feet. These notebooks are regarded as a work of art in their own right. Full editions of Pushkin’s doodles have been undertaken on several occasions.

Urban Sketchers

Urban Sketchers (USk) is a global community of artists that practice drawing on location in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to. The USk motto is “We show the world, one drawing at a time!”

Urban Sketchers has a manifesto which reads:

We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.

Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.

Our drawings are a record of time and place.

We are truthful to the scenes we witness.

We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.

We support each other and draw together.

We share our drawings online.

We show the world, one drawing at a time.

Paul Cezanne

Artists who contribute to Urban Sketchers can host workshops for sketching enthusiasts around the world. The workshops aim to teach skills useful to the

practice of urban sketching. Workshops can cover a variety of topics, such as perspective, panoramas, and people, and take place in the urban environment appropriate for the topic.

Regional Urban Sketchers groups function similar to the main global group. All embrace the vision of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto as leading guidelines, while each group maintains its local and cultural individuality. Many groups have their own blogs where correspondents are invited based on local criteria, Facebook and Flickr groups where all are welcome.

 

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