Drawing consists of traces and lines inscribed for expressive, informational and communicational purposes (Ingold, 2007). It differs from other graphic modes such as writing and numeration in having no strictly regularized notation. The word ‘drawing’ also means ‘to pull’ or ‘to pull out’, and in this sense refers to the revealing and recording of ‘mental images’ (Pallasmaa, 2009); it realizes the ways in which things are interpreted by the drawer, rather than being ‘realistic’ picturings of people, objects, places and events (Arnheim, 1969, 1974; Wolf and Perry, 1988). The visual and referential qualities of drawings vary according to genre, and in relation to historical, cultural and social specificities, for example, use of perspective and renditions of the human figure, including those drawn by children (e.g. Paget, 1932), and the involvement of digital media.

Drawings range from imagined pictures, sketches and doodles to scientific diagrams, geographical maps and architectural designs (e.g. Arnheim, 1969, 1974). By no means restricted to any one discipline or theoretical perspective, drawing has been widely studied for a range of purposes in, for example, art history, archaeology, anthropology, psychology, psychiatry and education. Multimodality offers a range of opportunities for studying the processes and products of drawing. Drawing is an embodied act involving the hand in particular, and its coordinated relationship with gaze (Pallasmaa, 2009). A multimodal approach provides means for analysing concurrent body movements and vocalizations, as well as simultaneous interactions with others in the context of the social environment (Lancaster, 2007). The co-presence of other modes of graphic representation raises questions regarding how subject matter has been distributed between drawing, writing and numeration, and multimodal relationships constructed in this process.

See also: Embodiment, Ensemble, Image, Mode, Multimodality, Transduction

Editor: Diane Mavers
Other contributor: Lesley Lancaster

Key References
Kress, G. (1997)
Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy
London: Routledge

Lancaster, L. (2013)
The Multimodality of Mark-Making in Early Childhood
New York: Routledge

Mavers, D. (2011)
Children’s Drawing and Writing: The Remarkable in the Unremarkable

New York: Routledge

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