The Difference Between Painting and Drawing

At Epoch looking for a job in the Austin Chronicle classifieds

At Epoch looking for a job in the Austin Chronicle classifieds

People ask me if I sketch in with pencil or charcoal before I begin.   No, I don’t.  So much of painting requires restatement in the process, why start out fumbling from the beginning?  I try to say what I mean from the very beginning. Think about the process of painting as opposed to drawing.  Rendering usually requires long, fluid lines of strokes, and many times, follows the contours of form.  Painting requires the artist to think in a more three-dimensional way.  Painting is more akin to sculpture than to drawing. As you follow the planes of the face in a portrait, you  will usually be applying the paint in short, more angular passages.  Since painting and rendering is so different in how the hand and brain relate to the page, I think that a better approach is to start out with paint.  I hope that is making sense!

Now, there is a way of drawing-for-painting that is absolutely necessary for the rendering artist to learn if they are going to paint.  I will try and discuss that at a later time, but only if you want to read about that.

Like so many other painters, I usually start out with a big brush, and work my way down to a smaller one.  I prefer to start out with a hake brush, because it will provide a nice massing-in and keeps me from obsessing over details.  The softness of the brush allows me to work very quickly.

I don’t think that I could work well if I were to start out with pencil or charcoal to begin with.  Please keep in mind that my ways of working are a preference, and even I don’t follow the same system every time that I approach a new canvas.

Comments on this post would be appreciated.  I would like to know what would be of interest to you!  I will be talking about painting by bicycle, and what equipment I have, soon.~Lavanna


  1. Posted October 6, 2008 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Makes perfect sense to me and well described too! The main thing is that whatever method you use needs to work well for you. Given the speed at which you have to work, I wouldn’t expect you to waste time on preliminary drawing, underpainting, or anything else.
    By the way, thanks for the link. You keep painting and I’ll keep visiting. Deal?

  2. Posted October 6, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi, justwilliams.

    Thank you for looking and for all of your nice comments from over the pond!


  3. Posted October 7, 2008 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    excellent. I love the more free style, a paint brush brings….it leaves room for imagination, yet gives definition…if that makes sense. ha.

  4. Posted October 7, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Grace.

    Thanks for looking and for the nice comments.
    Keep making that coffee over at mammainthescene!

    Thank you,

  5. Posted October 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    this is a great entry. i don’t have a lot of experience, so i never looked at it this way… 🙂

  6. Posted October 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Khristiane.

    Thanks for visiting. Stop by again!


  7. Horatio
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Permalink


  8. Posted October 9, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Horatio.

    Sense! Cool-cool!

    Thank you,


  9. inknform
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    being more of a pencil/ink/pastels kind of guy, I tend to think more about lines & form than of mass & dimension…but your points are completely valid and make plenty of sense 🙂

    In fact, I may even impliment a bit of your technique in my next digital art piece since I will using a Wacom tablet. Rather than essentially “coloring in” my scanned drawings, I`ll just complete the full piece with brush strokes.

    Hey great post btw!

  10. Posted October 9, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Inknform.

    I’ll be thrilled to see your results if you add the brush strokes.

    Thank you~Lavanna

  11. mormonsoprano
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I love this! Thank you for sharing your talents and insight on your creative process.

  12. Posted October 9, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi, mormonsoprano.

    Thank you for the kind words.


  13. Posted October 10, 2008 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    Every artist eventually develops his or her own style and the techniques required to pull it off. I gave up painting years ago but never stopped drawing. Most of my work for many years was in black and white and very ‘flat’. One day, several years ago, I found an old set of unused pastels in a box. I had bought them when I was an art student at Pratt in the early 70’s but never cracked the seal.
    I don’t know what posessed me but I started to work these lively colors on a small piece of watercolor paper and I began to relive the feelings I had when I used to paint every day. For me drawing with pastel or oil stick has a painterly feeling, although the techniques are somewhat different.
    Working fast also requires a different approach than the more studied style of painting. Sometimes I find myself ‘speed drawing’ – working almost manically fast in an attempt to catch a moment.
    I look forward to reading about your drawing for painting theories.

  14. Posted October 10, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi, barryshapiro,

    Nice to meet another art school brat. I went to Cranbrook Art Academy. Did you learn a lot at Pratt?

    Let’s talk about those pastels of yours! I was sitting next to my friend and we picked our favorites. I told my friend that I really like the landscapes in which you dangerously employed BLACK. It reminded me of Japanese wood or paper cut prints. Then, I saw that you have a printmaking background.

    Yes, use that pastel as paint! I would like to see you really punch it with the color. Since you are incorporating the black, the painting can handle it. OR, you might go linear with the black, and do some Toulouse Lautrec-inspired work. I really like the guy looking over his folded arms also. Maybe you should do more figures. Yes, I think so – in the Toulouse Lautre style! Hope this inspires you. Let’s keep working…


  15. Posted January 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    thanks for advice

  16. Posted July 28, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Lavanna- I enjoyed reading this post, and the painting that accompanies this piece is sooo good!

    Will take this moment to also mention that I love the title of your blog- ‘I Stare at People’- what humor! And quite a declaration!:)

    • Posted July 29, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Hi, Juicer.

      Thank you for your support all the way from the “Big Apple”. Hope that your summer is OK. I hear that the weather is good up there, right now. We’re in record triple digits.

      Thank you,


  17. May
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Um, i want to know meaning of Drawing. And thank you for imformation in Painting.

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