Contemporary Drawing: Key Concepts and Techniques by Margaret Davidson

 

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CONTEMPORARY DRAWING: KEY CONCEPTS AND TECHNIQUES

Reviews and Praise from Readers

New Ideas in Original Ways / April 2011
Margaret Davidson's New Book, Contemporary Drawing: Key Concepts and Techniques, is an amazing work. It does something few books of this type do — it explores new ideas in original ways. First, it elevates the status of drawing. Ms. Davidson shows us that drawing is not an art form second to painting, but an art form in its own right. Second, she talks about formal issues that, as far as I know, have not been covered in as much depth in other drawing guides. For example, the first two chapters of the book, “Surface” and “Mark”, talk about the interrelationship between the paper and the drawing instrument used. I particularly liked her discussion of Georges Seurat as the first artist to fully employ the texture of the paper.

This is a book I will enthusiastically be recommending to my students and all those in my art sphere.

Subsequent chapters correspond to other formal issues contemporary drawing artists must think about, like space, composition, scale, and even intentionality. In so many places I am exposed to new concepts I had not thought about before: mark-making by fire (!), gravity, or propulsion; drawing on both sides of translucent paper, the modern compositional structure of “overallness”; or the truth of the flatness of the surface … and it goes on. There is also in-depth information about materials — about every conceivable type of drawing media and drawing instrument, plus 14 pages on paper alone!

It should be noted that Contemporary Drawing is not a “how-to” guide that will teach you how to draw (angles, measuring, proportion, negative space, etc.,), as in the tradition of Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain or Brian Curtis’ Drawing from Observation. Instead, we are shown how to think like contemporary drawing artists. Ms. Davidson takes us beyond the “what” of drawing (subject matter) and into the realm of the “how” and “why.”

This book is also beautifully designed (appropriately) in a very contemporary style. There are something like 90 examples by contemporary drawing artists, plus dozens of other explanatory photographs or diagrams.

For the serious drawing artist, or even the layperson who wants to get a true glimpse into what picture-making is all about, this book is a must. I hope it will become the definitive reference on contemporary drawing. It deserves to be. — Mitchell Albala