How to collect drawings
Drawing is often an artist’s first course of action to develop an idea or quickly depict a scene from the world around them. The straightness of the sketching has been praised by artists such as… Edgar Degas, who described the drawing of the pencil as “the artist’s most direct and spontaneous expression”. Careful drawing has long been one of the first skills taught to art students. It continues to form the basis of the work of many great contemporary artists today – Robert Longo, Chloe Piene, Vija Celmins and Julie Mehretu to name a few.
Basically, as the etymology of “graffiti” attests, drawing can be defined as the mere act of drawing a line on a surface. But this simplicity also opens up limitless potential to the medium, depending on the techniques, materials and an artist’s unique vision. For the art-obsessed collector, drawing can offer everything from a behind-the-scenes peek into an artist’s process to an inspiring example of spontaneous beauty captured on paper. As such a fundamental yet open-ended art form, the original drawing could be the centerpiece of your own diverse art collection.
techniques and materials
Drawing media can be mainly classified into dry or wet media. Common dry media include graphite, pastel, charcoal, conté (clay-pressed graphite or charcoal), and metalpoint (a metal pen used to write on a coated surface). Common wet media include pen, ink, marker, and even watercolor when used linearly. Here the line between drawing and painting might blur, but after all it is in the nature of art to challenge boundaries; If you are interested in ink-based artworks, we recommend exploring artworks classified as both drawings and paintings.
The type of paper used can have a major impact on a drawing: Textured paper is often used with soft, dry media such as charcoal as it gives the medium more surface area to adhere to. Artists often choose smooth paper for highly detailed artwork made with mediums such as graphite pencil or ballpoint pen.
acid free describes paper that is made with a neutral pH and a buffer to neutralize any acidic compounds that the paper might absorb from its environment. If an acid-free paper is based on wood and not cotton, it means that the lignin has been removed from the wood pulp (lignin is the culprit that turns the paper yellow over time). Terms such as “acid-free” or “archivable” mean for the collector that he can rely on his drawing being protected against deterioration in the long term.
And while it’s a relatively new approach that challenges our traditional notions of scarcity and physical craft, digital drawing counts David Hockney among his followers and even Andy Warhol began experimenting with digital drawing shortly before his death. Digital drawings are often sold as limited edition paper prints and with the rise of digital art sales in general, artists creating works on screen are now the ones to keep an eye on.
Popular styles and themes
Life drawing, or drawing from a live model, typically nude, is a common practice in art schools. In this way, artists can hone their understanding of the intricacies and movements of the human figure—and three-dimensional objects in general—and better capture that complexity on paper. Therefore, the human figure and portraits are always popular motifs for artists and collectors. Alongside highly detailed, realistic representations of the body that spring to mind, figurative drawing often takes the form gesture Draw or make quick, general sketches of the character and contour Drawing, the practice of rendering the essential features of a figure in one continuous line.
While fans of representational art will find a variety of still lifes, nudes, and nature scenes done with pen and pencil, drawing is also well catered for abstraction. And graffiti isn’t just for walls and oversized canvases—street art fans might appreciate that drawing on a small scale was an integral part of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s practice.
Although drawings are often available at accessible price pointsHowever, in order to preserve your drawing collection in the long term, some care is required. Unlike canvas, paper is extremely fragile and should always be displayed behind glass. When framing your drawings, matboards should be made of acid-free materials, just like the drawing itself. Contact our art consultants for individual advice on building your collection and explore the breadth of Saatchi Art original drawings by emerging artists today.
Do you enjoy reading about everything related to art? You can have Canvas articles, curated collections and stories about emerging artists delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for the Saatchi Art newsletter.