Drawing as a generative medium in art making.
The research of a practice led PhD in Fine Arts consists of interrelated artwork and writing (Macleod and Holdridge 2005:197). In the dual practical and theoretical research for this PhD I examined drawing as a generative medium in art making. This thesis constitutes the theoretical aspect of such research, which is rooted primarily in artistic practice and not in theory. As the other, practical aspect of this PhD I have produced and exhibited original art works, namely works in paint and drawing media. The thesis presented here is an integrative text supporting this practical aspect. It examines the role and process of drawing as a contemporary medium of artistic expression, and pays special attention to its generative nature. The focus on drawing stems from the fact that drawing plays a seminal role in all aspects of my art-making. The thesis examines the body of art works produced during this research as well as the artistic process and methodology used to produce it. It also contextualises the research within the contemporary Fine Art field where drawing has become an ascendant, primary and legitimate medium of artistic expression. In the history of mainly Western art since Classical Antiquity, drawing served an essential and predominantly, though not exclusively, preparatory function. In the last fifty years the status of drawing has shifted, so that it has become a legitimate primary medium of expression for many contemporary artists. The historical function of preparation is consequently no longer the primary guiding rationale for drawing. The status of drawing as secondary and incomplete is now also obsolete. As a consequence of this recent radical function and status shift, current drawing discourse and practice is continually open to question and exploration. Moreover, there is little consensus about the nature of drawing among key players in the Fine Art field. This, as well as the ambiguous nature of drawing which allows it to be a constituent of other media as well as an independent medium, complicates any attempt to define drawing strictly. Having given an outline of the parameters of my specific research topic and my rationale for choosing it, the text proffers a working definition of drawing. Notwithstanding the challenging nature of this task a working definition is necessary to discuss the focus of the research—drawing. The thesis next examines my idiosyncratic use of drawing. Lastly, I address the central question of the thesis, namely, what accounts for the generative nature of drawing? The title of the research, Drawing as a Generative Medium in Art Making, may seem to suggest that the generative potential of drawing is peculiar to the medium as a discrete entity. This research concluded that while drawing is indeed eminently suited to such a function, this exploratory and innovative capacity is the likely outcome of a complex of factors. These factors span artistic approach, drawing process and medium. These inextricably connected factors are difficult to treat discretely. Each of them plays an essential role in this non-formulaic, nuanced and dynamic thinking and art making process. It was therefore concluded that media other than drawing, if combined with a similar complex of factors, may have a marked generative potential as well.