What is the future of drawing as a basis for fine and visual art?

On Sunday May 9th this year, The Guardian newspaper reported a trend that should concern all artists, art teachers, and art collectors.

According to Dalya Allberge, drawing classes at some of Britain’s most prestigious art schools is being removed from the curriculum. This has invited serious comments from artists in the country, who have stated their suppport for the need for art students, and artists, to build drawing skills to underpin their practices.

Allberge quotes Maggi Hambling, who has works in the British Museum, who said: “People do whatever they want at art schools now. If you can draw the human figure, you can draw anything. There should be a life room in which people are encouraged to draw from the model.”

On the eve of the opening of a major exhibition of Brett Whiteley’s drawings at Bendigo Art Gallery in July this year, titled “Drawing is Everything”, it appears that the art world is losing its core focus, and dropping skills required to become a professional practising artist.

As a visual artist, I agree with those quoted in Allberge’s article, that drawing is a fundamental skill required for a host of directions in visual art, architecture, and design of all descriptions. As an art teacher, drawing is a subject that I impress the importance of to my students irrespective of whether they want to paint, sculpt or whatever. It develops eye to hand coordination, observation skills, and the understanding of line, tone, perspective and composition.

If art is gradually whittled down in universities to expressing concepts rather than building practical skills, that is a sad situation reflecting a lack of foresight by those in charge, which will result in a generation of poorly informed graduates. My hope is that this trend will not spread to Australia, but, as history has proven in the art world, my hope is probably in vain.

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