There are multiple sub-disciplines in visual art such as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. What is drawing's significant importance to all of the other sub-disciplines and to the overall discipline of visual art?
By definition, the visual arts are “looking at things carefully” – that is, paying attention to the way physical objects use space and color in “making an impression” on the viewer. All the listed forms use various media (print, pencil, marble, paint, etc.) to replicate or create a physical image, but at the base is the careful observation of details – shadows, shape combinations, perspectives, etc. The first training for the eye, then, is the observation of these subtleties; the second discipline is the training of the hand to replicate these details in the medium. The most efficient (and enduring) form of training is drawing – the two-dimensional re-creation of the object’s existence in three-dimensional space. Only after this training of the mind-eye-hand team can the artist venture into media and color subtleties. Art students spend hundreds of hours drawing, for example, their shoe, just to get control over this triumvirate of body parts. The sculptor then transforms his close observations into three-dimensional form; the painter finds the properties of oils or acrylics that will replicate the subtle shadows and shades of real life, etc. Of course, the visual arts (and all arts) do much more than simply replicate what is – they reach out to the imagination, to associations, etc. The Mona Lisa is much more than a replication of a woman’s head.