By Steve Taylor, Artfusion.

Understanding the intricacy of a painting may involve following the evolution of an artist’s ideas from preliminary sketches and drawings on paper, through preparatory underdrawings and revised outlines to the complexity of the final painting.

Underdrawings are the preliminary drawings on the canvas (or panel) that has been prepared for painting; subsequently they will become covered by the paint layers themselves. Underdrawings vary enormously in extent, complexity, style and technique and often are not followed precisely at the painting stage. Occasionally they differ dramatically from the finished composition. Much of the interest in studying underdrawings lies in what they reveal about the creative processes of the artist.

Early in 2010 I was invited to the Oxfordshire studio of artist Barbara Gorayska to view a series of drawings she had developed prior to the execution of her latest painting and share in the initial underdrawing process. Making reference to her sketchbook Gorayska embarked upon putting quick and immediate pencil marks on the canvas, as she says “just enough to understand the spatial relationships, and gain a sense of confidence”. She then started to “tackle the subject” switching to heavier, more deliberate pencil lines. As the uderdrawing progressed some elements were adjusted, changes to the position of certain figures for example until Gorayska was satisfied with the composition.

During this process Gorayska philosophised about the creative process and this is reflected both in her drawings and her sketchbooks. They express her ideas about the making of art. She further reflects verbally on issues of pattern, design, and color and when we look at these notes in relation to her latest paintings, we can appreciate the wholeness of the artist as a rational being not afraid to let her instincts run free.