To Draw, To Sketch, Drawing, Sketching, A Drawing, A Sketch.
I’ve been thinking about the difference between the act of drawing and sketching. And, I’ve been considering the finished products: a sketch and a drawing.
Defining the Difference Between Sketch & Draw.
Truthfully, I find it a struggle to come up with an easy way to describe the difference between the two that fits all cases. Or even most cases. Even still, a definition that might give me a “litmus” type test for what is a drawing and what is a sketch.
Shades of Gray.
You see, I tend to find myself thinking of exceptions. That is, I think the terms shades of gray. This is not a particularly helpful approach, however, when one wants to define something.
But, I did think of analogy that may shed some light. Perhaps sketching is like writing short notes. Taking the analogy further, perhaps a finished drawing is more like a novel or a biography. It was the notes that you did during the research process that enabled you to write the novel or biography. Therefore, the act of drawing is like more in-depth drafts and finished writings of poetry, novels, biographies and so forth. Whereas, sketches are a type of research for that in-depth study or finished piece of art.
Another difference one might consider is time needed to produce the work. Sketches may be thought of as faster types of drawings. One works in haste to capture the essentials of the subject in a few minutes. On the other hand, a drawing might be a slower, more deliberate type of drawing. It might take hours, days or weeks to complete.
To Draw – Umbrella Term?
To my mind, I see the verb “to draw” as the umbrella term because it means to pull a mark across the surface. The result then is a drawing. To sketch, and the resultant sketch, would be a subset or specific type of drawing. Again, a faster, less developed type of a drawing. So, when a person draws to create a detailed, more finished work, then it would not be a sketch; instead a drawing.
Vague and Convoluted.
Do you see how easy it is to get vague and convoluted when considering the differences?
I think there is certainly a difference between the types of drawings. But, perhaps, types of drawings can be considered on a sketching/drawing continuum, with quick sketch at one end and finished drawing on the other end.
Clarity of Meaning.
So, why all this struggle to define? Clarity in communication might be one desired result. When I say “I draw out my design before I paint it“, I do mean a more deliberate preparatory drawing. A fair amount of thought and consideration has gone into the composition before I paint it.
On the other hand, sometimes I sketch rather than draw before paintings. That is, I note on the surface the boundaries or critical lines of the subject in a more simple manner. I leave the painting part of the process to develop the composition and design.
Ask The Artists or Draftsperson.
I do have one more thought. In some ways, it seems to me more appropriate for the artist to determine if their own work is a sketch or a drawing. Because the amount and type of work would be relative to the artist’s needs. That is, can you tell by a finished sketch or drawing the amount of work done beforehand? Maybe the answer is we think so, but may easily be deceived!
Incidentally, I still haven’t solved my own problem of writing about sketches or drawings. If I use only the words “sketch” or “draw” based on the work, then the writing becomes too stilted. That is to say, the same word gets used too often. So, how to solve this problem? I am not sure yet.
In the meantime, perhaps I’ll go work on a sketch or drawing.
Articles That Shed Light On The Subject.
Here is a list of four articles about the difference between drawing and sketching. You might find them helpful.
http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-drawing-and-sketching. Note, this particular link has a nice table that highlights the difference between the words draw and sketch.