Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why I draw what I draw (English version)

Paolo Canton of Topipittori originally posted this essay in Italian on the Topipittori blog. There is also some nice response on Topipittori's facebook page. If you'd rather read it in the original English, see below:

Caro Paolo,

First, I want to thank you for your interest in me and my drawings. You have given me the opportunity to think about why I do what I do —and that is somewhat rare. Also, In a small way your interest validates and shows respect for me. This is a wonderful thing. I hope some day to meet you in person in Bologna or elsewhere.

Now: Regarding why I am drawing Nature and not book illustrations here:

I do these drawings in order to:
  1. draw (I love to draw and make pictures. Love it!)
  2. practice the art of drawing
  3. look at something —rather than take a photograph of it.
  4. to draw real things rather than imaginary things.
  5. study and learn about Nature
  6. stop thinking and worrying
  7. procrastinate
  8. meditate
  9. get some physical exercise
  10. to contemplate existence and the reasons for making Art
  11. create a record of my perceptions
  12. prove that I am alive
  13. prove that I once was alive (for anyone who cares!).

I draw in this manner in many places. The place I draw most of the time is at a park next to a river that is a ten minute walk from my home. The walk is good. The park is good. The river is good. The sound the river makes is very good. I like the animals and other people I see there. I know all the views and the way the light exists in this place. I could draw it every day (and I frequently do draw it every day).

Why? The compulsion? A confession: After some upsetting personal experiences, I found that I needed to get away from the house and studio. I needed to get away from my imagination. I needed to focus on something outside of myself that I loved: Nature. Nature is a neutral subject. I can feel passionately about it and yet it absorbs all the conflict, angst and whatever emotional state I might bring to it. It’s an emotional safety valve. It calms me down.  So, drawing, more than illustrating is a good activity for me.

All my drawings are done in letter-sized sketchbooks (similar to A4). I use all sorts of media (charcoal, crayon, ink, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.); I change it when the work or myself seem dull. Sometimes I work while the rain falls or in the bitter cold winter’s snow. All the changes make the process more interesting to me and hopefully, better drawings result.

What is a better drawing? Maybe your readers have opinions on this question.

I like my observations and my drawings. I have exhibited them a few times and I sell one or two. I wonder if they could ever be illustrations and accompany a text or poem. Hmm… I wonder. They are the illustrations of my life.

Thank you so very much for the opportunity to talk about this aspect of my work and especially for your appreciation of it.

Cari saluti,



  1. Rob this is wonderful and awesome, I am deeply touched.

  2. Thank you Klaus. You are a small part of my Drawing DNA! With you, I remain inspired.


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