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Glance of a Landscape
Glance of a Landscape, 1926
Paul Klee, Swiss
Watercolor, sprayed through stencils and brushed, on paper, mounted on board inscribed by the artist
Sheet: 11 7/8 × 18 1/8 inches (30.2 × 46 cm)
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950
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More than any other medium, drawing provides an artist with a personal and spontaneous means of expression. The direct application of a pencil, pen or brush to a sheet of paper lends an immediacy that is unique among art forms. Frequently small in scale and often not intended for display, drawings may function as a private journal of sorts by recording an artist's ideas, experiments, and intentions. Certainly sketchbooks, such as those by Paul Cézanne, serve this role – offering intimate studies from everyday life and revealing the evolution of the artist’s vision through various depictions of favorite subjects. The drawing materials chosen by an artist profoundly influence the finished appearance of a work of art on paper. Distinctive yet often subtle differences in the physical characteristics of pencils, crayons, pastels, watercolors, or inks determine not only how the artist applies them but what the materials look like on the paper surface. Precise identification of drawing materials provides insight into an artist’s intentions and working methods, thereby contributing to our understanding of a work of art and its historic context. Just as important, this information encourages appropriate care during exhibition and storage and, when necessary, helps the conservator to carry out more effective treatments.

Observation through a microscope is fundamental to the examination process. It can reveal minute physical details of drawing mediums and papers as seen in the photomicrographs that follow. The use of various types of illumination such as raking light, positioning a lamp so that it shines across the surface at a sharp angle, can show identifying characteristics like the sheen of graphite, the velvety quality of pastel or the distinctive texture of a paper.

The following presentation on drawing materials is based on an installation entitled For Your Eyes Only—Looking Closely at Works of Art on Paper held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art May 26 through September 10, 2000. The exhibition featured 19th and 20th century masterworks from the Museum’s collection, most of them included in this web presentation and many of them highlighted in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections.

Drawing Materials

Chalk & Pastel
Graphite Charcoal Crayon Chalk & Pastel
Opaque Watercolor
Pen & Ink
Mixed Materials
Watercolor Opaque
Pen & Ink Mixed Materials

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