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Drawing is one of the oldest forms of human expression,  preceding written communication, as seen in the art of the Upper Paleolithic; prehistoric cave and rock paintings. The oldest known cave paintings are  more than 44, 000 years old, found in Western Europe and in Indonesia. These wall drawings (below) found in the Chauvet Caves in southern France date back 30, 000 to 32, 000 years ago, and are examples of some of earliest forms of human communication through pictorial storytelling and figurative art.

An artistic depiction of a group of rhinoceros, was completed in the Chauvet Cave 30,000 to 32,000 years ago.

Image: An artistic depiction of a group of rhinoceros, was completed in the Chauvet Cave 30,000 to 32,000 years ago.

As well as being a medium for visual communication drawing has been an important means to observe, better understand and explain the world around us; historically underpinning much scientific study as well as being the foundation for many forms of artistic practice and expression. 

Below are a collection of images and videos that explore the medium of drawing. Included are a range of works from traditional and representational modes of drawing, to modern and contemporary practices that are more experimental and expressive and that overlap with other disciplines such as sculpture, installation art and land art.

Also included are sections on beloved Illustrators such as Quentin Blake and Edward Lear, and comic art and cartooning. 


“Drawing is the art of being able to leave an accurate record of
the experience of what one isn't, of what one doesn't know. A
great drawer is either confirming beautifully what is commonplace
or probing authoritatively the unknown.
::: Brett Whiteley :::”



Looking At Line, Tone, Form, Space


Tonal drawing of seated boy with a straw hat by Georges Seurat

Seated Boy with Straw Hat, study for Bathers at Asnières (ca. 1883–1884) by Georges Seurat.  Original from Yale University Art Gallery. Source: rawpixel.


Colour pencil study of an apple.

Apple by Jean Bernard (1775-1883) Originally from the Rijksmuseum. Rawpixel.


Brush, pen and ink drawing of a Landscape with a tree lined canal and two mills by Jean Bernard.

Landscape with a canal and two mills by Jean Bernard (1775-1883). Original from the Rijks Museum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.


Pencil drawing of Rhinoceros Head

Head of a Rhinoceros, Half  Submerged in the Water, August Allebé, c. 1870 - c. 1884. Rijks Museum, Public Domain.


Breaking With Convention 

Experimental & Expressive Drawing


Semi abtracted drawing in watercolour, ink and pencil inspired by the writer ETA Hoffman's tale The Golden Pot.

Paul Klee, Tale à la Hoffmann (1921), watercolour, ink, and pencil on paper. 31.1 x 24.1 cm.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Wikipedia. Public Domain 




In this short TATE film Sir Quentin Blake, English illustrator and children's writer, talks about his drawings and artistic practice.

Blake has illustrated over 300 books, including 18 written by Roald Dahl, which are among his most popular works.

To view more of Quentin's joyful

illustrations visit his website HERE, which also has lots of other fun activities and resources.

Illustration by Quentin Blake of a woman with a rainbow for hair. Portable Rainbows free e-card.

Above image: Quentin creates 'portable rainbows' as free e-cards

Quentin has created a series of brand new, totally free rainbow e-cards for people to send to loved ones they cannot currently visit, to show they are thinking of them at this difficult time.   The ten, individual 'Send a Rainbow' e-cards are available to download from from the 'Fun & Free' section of Quentin's official website 


Illustration by Edward Lear of himself showing a stranger his name tag in his hat to prove that he is Edward Lear.

Edward Lear (12 May 1812, Holloway – 29 January 1888, Sanremo) was an English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, now known mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularised. His principal areas of work as an artist were threefold: as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals; making coloured drawings during his journeys, which he reworked later, sometimes as plates for his travel books; as a (minor) illustrator of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense collections of poems, songs, short stories, botanical drawings, recipes and alphabets. He also composed and published twelve musical settings of Tennyson's poetry.

This biography is from Wikipedia under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. 

CLICK HERE to view Lear's landscape drawings capturing his travels in Greece.


CLICK HERE for Edward Lear's illustrated Picture Stories

LISTEN to works by Edward Lear 

at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks) 

Cartooning and Comics
 James Gillray's caricature The Plumb-pudding in Danger (1805). The world being carved up into spheres of influence between Pitt and Napoleon. 

Image: James Gillray, The Plumb-pudding in Danger (1805). The world being carved up into spheres of influence between Pitt and Napoleon.  Public Domain

"Cartooning is a picture intended as satire, caricature, or humor. Cartoons are often featured in print publications and online publications, like blogs and websites. Sometimes cartoons will consist of just one picture, while others will consist of several pictures. Typically, characters and scenes in most cartoons are not drawn realistically. Some cartoons may have a caption, speech, or thought bubble that make the characters’ words or actions apparent.

Cartooning has its roots in caricature, from the Italian word caricare meaning to load or exaggerate. Caricature gives weight to the most striking physical features of its subject for comic effect. These unique portraits were created as an artist’s exercise, a way of gaining expertise in defining the essence of a person with a few deft strokes of the pen. The great Italian masters, Leonardo da Vinci, Annibale Carracci, and Gian Lorenzo Benini all drew this art form.

Most cartoons are meant to convey a certain message or point out some type of irony. Depending on the intended audience, cartoons might either be very complex or straightforward. Editorial and political cartoons illustrate a point of view on current social and/or political topics and may depend on dry humor and subtle irony. Other cartoons see the humor in everyday life, such as depicting married life with exaggerated common marital situations. This type can be seen in advertising and spots.

Other illustration genres related to cartooning are the comic strip (a sequence of cartoons) and the graphic novel (a very long series of cartoons). Today, cartoonists are also creating storyboards, which are used when producing animated films and video games."

A section of Winsor McCay's 1905-1914 comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Image: Winsor McCay (1871-1934) Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1914). Public Domain

Comics is a medium used to express narratives or other ideas through images, usually combined with text. It typically takes the form of a sequence of panels of images. Textual devices such as speech balloonscaptions, and onomatopoeia can indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. The size and arrangement of panels contribute to narrative pacing. Cartooning and other forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form which uses photographic images. Common forms include gag-a-day comic stripseditorial and gag cartoons, and comic books. Since the late 20th century, bound volumes such as graphic novelscomic albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, while online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century.

The history of comics has followed different paths in different cultures, but by the mid-20th century comics flourished, particularly in the United States, western Europe (especially France and Belgium), and Japan. The history of European comics is often traced to Rodolphe Töpffer's cartoon strips of the 1830s, but the medium truly became popular in the 1930s following the success of strips and books such as The Adventures of TintinAmerican comics emerged as a mass medium in the early 20th century with the advent of newspaper comic strips; magazine-style comic books followed in the 1930s, in which the superhero genre became prominent after Superman appeared in 1938. Histories of Japanese comics and cartooning (manga) propose origins as early as the 12th century. Modern comic strips emerged in Japan in the early 20th century, and the output of comics magazines and books rapidly expanded in the post-World War II era (1945–) with the popularity of cartoonists such as Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, et al.). Comics has had a lowbrow reputation for much of its history, but towards the end of the 20th century began to find greater acceptance with the public and academics.


AiH Drawing Ideas Sheets
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