Friday, February 20, 2015

Nulla Dies Sine Linea & the Importance of Drawing

19 years ago I started a project and new year's resolution in which I drew every day in a drawing journal. The idea came from a phrase I read from Apelles of Kos a Greek painter of the 4th century BC. "Nulla Dies Sine Linea" (Do not spend a day without a line) is a famous quote attributed to the artist. Drawing is fundamental to all art, from painting to architecture, so why not strengthen this skill to its maximum, I thought. The way to do this was by first of all adopting the phrase from Apelles as maxim & principle to guide my art. 

The first drawings made in my diary were by ballpoint pen and very loose. Many of these were disastrous but some showed to have potential and I slowly began to realize that what's really important behind drawing was in the process and not necessarily the result. The vigor and looseness were gradually being reflected in any other artistic medium I worked with. For many years I drew religiously every day in my diaries that kept accumulating. These drawings served as sketches for my paintings but they also served as a learning tool, escape valve and  an appropriate channel for creative energy. This had a tremendously positive impact on paintings I created in subsequent years. 

After passing through some phases and art periods high and low, I decided to re-take this daily practice of drawing from this year onwards and through this blog to share some of the results. After all this blog is titled "Artist journal", so I better make some justice with this title. 

When I taught drawing and painting, one of my advices to my students was to never stop drawing and to create a habit and discipline of drawing as many often as they could. At first it may be difficult and it is because we do not have the time or easily feel discouraged by not seeing immediate results but the key is keeping at it with persistence in the process and to simply enjoy the humble act of drawing. 

One way of looking at it is to think about the drawings as the basic vitamins in art. In this metaphor, an artist who does not draw is a malnourished artist. Again I throw this advice to all who read this blog. No matter the medium or support but always keep this in mind and practice "Nulla Dies Sine Linea".