My post “Tracing: what’s your view?”, is ranked number 3 on my list of most read and not surprisingly, received numerous comments.
My own views on this subject have not changed. To be honest I’ve become more anti-tracing than ever. I cringe whenever I see that a drawing has been ‘created’ on drafting film. Why would you ever use this support if you didn’t want to trace? The only exception would be if you wanted to transfer a sketch, but as drafting film apparently, readily accepts erasers, why would you use this support?
The problems with tracing are:
Tracing doesn’t teach you how to draw, it teaches you how to copy.
Tracing doesn’t allow an artist to develop or show their own particular style.
Tracing quality varies from person to person for a variety of physical, emotional and intellectual reasons, but it’s still copying. Some do it a lot better than others.
Tracing is quite acceptable in craftwork, but we are talking about fine art which should be personal and original.
The unique way each artist interprets their art is the greatest characteristic that fine art possesses.
On the credit side, tracing is a good teaching tool and a confidence-builder, but it can be habit-forming and there’s a time to let go and reveal the way YOU express yourself through YOUR art.
Tracing seems quite popular with some coloured pencil artists, but it’s not just confined to this medium. Some painters work from slides projected onto their work and there’s overhead transparencies. The problem with the need to trace is that it’s driven by the need for photographic accuracy. Why is there this need to compete with the camera?
Freehand practice is what should be celebrated!
Tomorrow: Is using a grid the same as tracing?