Introduction | Research | Publications | Files | Events | Workshops


Art of sketching - Language of sketching - Science of sketching - Technology of sketching - Practice of sketching

Art of sketching
Literature and art movement review, current state review

History of visual ideation

Early signs of using sketching as an ideation tool

The Renaissance - the 15th and 16th centuries.

Mariano di Jacopo (1382 – c. 1453), called Taccola ("the jackdaw"), was an Italian polymath, administrator, artist and engineer of the early Renaissance. Taccola is known for his technological treatises De ingeneis and De machinis, which feature annotated drawings of a wide array of innovative machines and devices. Taccola's work was widely studied and copied by later Renaissance engineers and artists, among them Francesco di Giorgio, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Digitised manuscript "
De ingeneis and De machinis":
British library notes:

Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439–1501) was an Italian architect, engineer, painter, sculptor, and writer. As a painter, he belonged to the Sienese School. He was considered a visionary architectural theorist—in Nikolaus Pevsner's terms: "one of the most interesting later Quattrocento architects". As a military engineer, he executed architectural designs and sculptural projects and built almost seventy fortifications for the Federico da Montefeltro, Count (later Duke) of Urbino, building city walls and early examples of star-shaped fortifications.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (14/15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519), known as Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time (despite perhaps only 15 of his paintings having survived).
Selected sketches:
Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci [by Charles Lewis Hind] by Leonardo, da Vinci, 1452-1519; Hind, C. Lewis (Charles Lewis), 1862-1927:
Codex Arundel:
Codex Atlanticus:

Surrealism, since 1917

Automatic drawing, painting, Automatic writing
Automatic poetry is poetry written using the automatic method. It has probably been the chief surrealist method from the founding of surrealism to the present day. One of the oddest uses of automatic writing by a great writer was that of W. B. Yeats. His wife, a spiritualist, practised it, and Yeats put large chunks of it into his prose work, A Vision and much of his later poetry.
The Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal used the method of automatic text in his famous book I Served the King of England. One chapter in the book is written as a single sentence, and at the end of the book Hrabal endorses the use of automatic writing.

Automatic drawing was pioneered by the English artist Austin Osman Spare who wrote a chapter, Automatic Drawing as a Means to Art, in his book, The Book of Pleasure (1913). Other artists who also practised automatic drawing were Hilma af Klint, André Masson, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Jean Arp, André Breton and Freddy Flores Knistoff.
Automatic drawing (distinguished from drawn expression of mediums) was developed by the surrealists, as a means of expressing the subconscious. In automatic drawing, the hand is allowed to move "randomly" across the paper. In applying chance and accident to mark-making, drawing is to a large extent freed of rational control. Hence the drawing produced may be attributed in part to the subconscious and may reveal something of the psyche, which would otherwise be repressed. Examples of automatic drawing were produced by mediums and practitioners of the psychic arts. It was thought by some Spiritualists to be a spirit control that was producing the drawing while physically taking control of the medium's body.

Most of the surrealists' automatic drawings were illusionistic, or more precisely, they developed into such drawings when representational forms seemed to suggest themselves. In the 1940s and 1950s the French-Canadian group called Les Automatistes pursued creative work (chiefly painting) based on surrealist principles. They abandoned any trace of representation in their use of automatic drawing. This is perhaps a more pure form of automatic drawing since it can be almost entirely involuntary – to develop a representational form requires the conscious mind to take over the process of drawing, unless it is entirely accidental and thus incidental. These artists, led by Paul-Émile Borduas, sought to proclaim an entity of universal values and ethics proclaimed in their manifesto Refus Global.

As alluded to above, surrealist artists often found that their use of "automatic drawing" was
not entirely automatic, rather it involved some form of conscious intervention to make the image or painting visually acceptable or comprehensible, "...Masson admitted that his 'automatic' imagery involved a two-fold process of unconscious and conscious activity...