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Drawing - Primary Sources

Updated on February 18, 2019
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Nigel holds a master's degree in fine art and has taught fine art for 18 years.

WHAT ARE PRIMARY SOURCES?

Primary sources are the drawings you make of things 'from life' - perhaps a still life you have set up in your kitchen or a 'real' landscape you are looking at as you draw. It could be a series of sketches you make of a person sitting for a portrait.

A primary source can also be YOUR photographs of all the above.

Any images you use to create your work that have been taken or made by someone else are called SECONDARY SOURCES.

Primary sources provide all artists with the opportunity to work from life. This is a skill to be developed and is something that should be practiced whenever possible.

When you draw from life you see details and tones and values that are often lost in photographs. The eye sees a greater range of these than the lens of a camera.

Primary sources also give us original works of art in their own right. If we use secondary sources we are only copying the work someone else has created. So, Original sources = original artwork that can then be sold as such.

Keeping a sketchbook with you is a great idea to develop skills and to gather visual sources to develop into paintings or studio drawings later.
Keeping a sketchbook with you is a great idea to develop skills and to gather visual sources to develop into paintings or studio drawings later. | Source

PRIMARY SOURCE SKETCHBOOK

Take a sketchbook with you when you take a camera. If you think the place might provide good photos then it will also provide good sources for drawing.

SKETCHBOOKS

Sketchbooks are, essentially, visual diaries. They provide us with an opportunity to draw from life.

You could be on the coast sketching the cliffs or waves or sitting at a cafe, capturing the people and architecture.

There is nothing quite like it for providing inspiration for finished work later in the studio.

A camera or mobile phone can also then capture other aspects that you might not have focused on in the sketch.

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