Feeling as a guide to mark-making

Feeling and the sketch

The chapter featured in this Post tells how, over the centuries, artists changed the way they conceived the function of the sketch. From being a step in the Academic method, by which predetermined elements were organised into a composition, it was used in more open-ended essentially Modernist ways. The chapter also explains what I mean by drawing with the “feel-system” and, in doing so, prepares readers for the crucial role it plays in later chapters. For this reason it is key to the ideas developed in my book.


Chapter 4 – “The sketch and the feel-system” 


Feeling-guided sketches by Michelangelo and Matisse.

A foretaste of the illustrations found in Chapter 4 are included below. The first of these is by Michelangelo, a Renaissance artist, and the other by Matisse, a Modernist one. The difference between them reflects both similarities and changes that had taken place in the way artists approached their work.


Sketch by Michelangelo in preparation for a presentation drawing “The fall of Phaeton”


A sketch by Matisse showing his visual thinking processes


This Post is the second of two that I will be publishing in time for the July 22 – August 5 1917 session of the Painting School of Montmiral. In this way it will also be ready for my experimental “Life Drawing” week in Norfolk, which is scheduled for later in August. As it is holiday time, I will be taking a break from Posts during August and will not start again until some time after 7th September, which will be my 80th birthday.

Other Posts that publish chapters from “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain”.

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4 thoughts on “Feeling as a guide to mark-making”

  1. Another thought provoking discussion, fascinating to one who is interested in philosophy and psychology but has no background in drawing or painting. So many connections…

  2. Drawings that show the visual thinking process are like a time lapse glimpse into an individual’s thinking and creating process. Decisive, indecisive, musing, stop, go. This is one reason I appreciate seeing the artist’s preparatory drawings along with the finished piece which is the arrival point in the journey. Another reason is that they usually have so much animation in them.

  3. Gosh! Here I am again, almost to the day two years later, rereading this chapter, but this time after a day of feeling alone and trying to draw all by myself. I am struck again, by how apt each chapter speaks to my experience of each day’s work: today I struggled with accuracy. Worked hard. Then, I just gave up and drew in a feeling, free-hand kind of way. Felt pretty unsure about the value of my day’s work until I reread this chapter and felt happy to realize that I’d stumbled into two solid ways of learning how to draw: accuracy, and the feel-system. Thank you for helping me find my way with more confidence, and with a great deal more understanding.

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