DRAWING AS SCULPTURE (and I don’t mean illustrations propped up on boards in a diorama)

Drawing has always been classified as a 2D medium; everyone knows this. Every art school places drawing in the 2D studio, and art prizes are often reserved for works that are 2D (which, of course, includes drawing.) You might say that it’s obviously a two-dimensional medium because drawing involves line, shading and marks of all kinds applied to a surface; a surface that is not a three-dimensional entity. And I agree, in that respect.


When speaking about my photorealistic drawings, I am often asked two questions. The first being “What are your weapons of choice?” The answer is technical pencils, a range of graphite leads, paper blending stumps and brushes. This is quickly followed by “But how do use them to make the drawing lift off the paper?” My answer to that is “I am a sculptor. I am a three-dimensionally minded artist who relies on form and the space in which it sits to create my work. Drawing for me has never been about the pleasure of mark making, or how the combination of line and shading can build up an image; it has always been an exploration of form and an extension of my sculpture practice.


My drawing and sculpture practices are the same, in that they both explore form, texture and space. When I draw, I use my pencils and brushes to build up tone in a manner that is similar to modelling with clay; building up layers of graphite accentuates contrast, giving my subject form. I then use a 0.3mm pencil to add detail, using the exact mentality of carving back into the clay to create depth. The drawing becomes something that is reminiscent of relief sculpture, but despite depicting a single side of the subject I must mentally visualise a 360 degree view and how it occupies space in order to lift the drawing off the surface. It then may occupy its own space beyond that of the surface. It then becomes a sculpture.


Photorealistic drawing aesthetically relies on a knowledge and careful study of form: drawing a portrait, for example, requires an understanding of the purpose of tone in a face, which is to represent form and three-dimensionality. This gives the subject life.

I don’t set out to leave flat pencil marks on paper: I sculpt with graphite.” After hearing this answer, people are often bewildered because they only know drawing as a two-dimensional medium (which, of course, it is and will remain). But just because something is physically classified as two-dimensional, it shouldn’t mean we must always approach it as such.


My challenge to you is to see your subject in space and consider how it interacts with it, lift your drawings off the surface, and delve into the third dimension.

Happy sculpting.