Qualities of Line
Just as colour can appear warm or cold to the eye, the quality of line can convey the sense of character. Tools of drawing each have their degree of subtlety and definition that imply some qualities over the other. For instance, ink with its clearly defined lines can feel very straightforward and concrete, whereas pencil in comparison can be varied and subtle, ranging from strong and harsh to soft and gentle. Ballpoint pen is even more eccentric. Designed as a medium for writing, it can be strong and defined like ink, but also soft and subtle like pencil, with painterly smoothness in its handling of lines and angles. Charcoal drawing on the other hand is very expressive, spontaneous and malleable, yielding varying degrees of softness or definition. Even my handwriting, the movement and speed of drawing, responds to the friction and sensory experience of a drawing tool against the paper. The use of medium is not just revealing of character, but a form of experience in itself.
Among ink, pencil, charcoal and numerous other media, eraser is perhaps the most invisible method of drawing. After all it does not, technically, even create a line, but rather transforms the existing ones, creating openings within them to reveal the surface underneath. Erasure is in almost never absolute: it reduces, but does not remove. The concept of no complete erasure was first openly demonstrated in the artwork by Robert Rauschenberg — ‘Erased de Kooning Drawing’ (1953) — a new work created from the existing charcoal drawing by his friend Willem de Kooning. Despite erasing, we can see traces of any medium: be it pencil, charcoal, or even ink, present on the surface, even if they are barely visible.