Pencil drawing of a painted ceramic horse head from the Abydos Settlement SiteInstagram July 29. 2020
Today, most scholars continue publishing an overwhelming number of drawings in their publications (you can find a fine example of such efforts here, with versatility and editability being among the most often cited reasons. Somewhat controversially, one direction taken by artists tends towards creating more and more realistic illustrations with drawings so detailed and well shaded that they almost look like photographs. Unfortunately, the more the drawings resemble photographs, the more complicated they are to comprehend. After a certain level of complexity is added to the drawing, it becomes more useful to just turn to the photograph instead.
As technology marches forward in huge leaps, the supporting role of artistic drawings is repeatedly questioned by scholars and the general audience alike. The dilemma often is this: do we need a visual mediator (the artist) for interpreting the data for us or should everybody draw their conclusions from the most objective representation, which is the photograph? We should always be in favor of a mediator as long as the interpretation is based on scholarly observations, employing a generally approved visual language and creating representations that are compatible with other illustrations of similar artifacts.
When drawing this painted ceramic horse head figurine, emphasizing the material of the artifact was just as important for the artist as indicating the faded paint traces appearing on the surface. The balanced mixture of surface details and decorative elements with the “toned down” overall hue of the artifact helps greatly with the understanding of the object.
Pencil drawing on matte acetate, Abydos Settlement Site, 2005.
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