top of page

May 2010


Drawing and Thinking

Drawing is thinking made manifest. At its most simple definition, it is simply a graphic record of thought and intention. Conceptually, the line is the maker of distinctions – it cleaves a space from the conceptual void; it delineates entities, trajectories and boundaries. The line is the thread, propelled by thought, which moves and mutates with the process of plastic
creation. Reflecting thought, it is loose, free, open at the start of the creative process. It is a capricious and un-tethered thing, sometimes being wildly and exuberantly speculative, sometimes coldly rational and utilitarian, slowly becoming more defined, located and precise as the process continues.


Drawing and Action

Drawing is also, of course, a verb - a bodily action; more usually a sequence of actions that deposits traces between the maker and the medium of the drawing. The history of drawing is the history of mark making - figures darkening a surface or ground. Although drawing is itself an act, it is frequently related to displaced acts, usually beyond the realm of drawing. Depending on the task at hand, the act of drawing might precede the act of making - Peter Cook describes drawing as: ‘a spontaneous means of summarising immediate intention’1. Frequently the drawing and the act are simultaneous - Roland Barthes describes drawing as: ‘an act made visible’2, and there is also the drawing that comes after the act, a kind of
documentary statement, frequently of a cartographic or archeological nature – the postperformance drawings of Barry Le Va3 spring to mind.

The class of drawings we will engaging with here are those that relate to the understanding of space, particularly architectural drawings that register the qualities, dimensions, and material make-up of sites under examination, usually with the intention of generating a spatial construct in this location. These drawings sit somewhat uneasily on the threshold of the need to register (near) historical configurations of a site, while also providing a base from which to project forward and provide instruction for new events in space and time, providing a kind of map and itinerary in one single document.


1 Cook, P. (2008). Drawing – the motive force of Architecture (p.9) London: Wiley
2 Barthes, R. (1985). Cy Twombly: works on paper (p.170). In R. Barthes, The responsibility of Forms (pp.157-169)
Berkeley: University of California Press
3 For an interesting discussion of Le Va’s work in relation to process art, see: Lee, P.M. (1999) Some kinds of duration:
The temporality of drawing as process art’ (P.29) in C. H. Butler (Ed.), Afterimage: Drawing through Process (pp.25-48),
Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art.

Kreider + O’Leary:

Video Shakkei ‘Live’ Drawings:

Video Shakkei Installation – The Centre for Drawing UAL:


bottom of page