I have spent quite a bit of time of late making drawings from artists including Titian, Rubens and Michelangelo and have been fascinated by the nature of their drawings: the role drawing played in their art, the technical mastery they exhibit and perhaps most importantly, how drawing can be defined in different ways in each of these artists' work.

In a Michelangelo drawing -  I was acutely aware of this being the work of a sculptor - the line is fantastic in execution. His drawings have a questioning quality to them , they probe into space and delineate a body in space like no other artist. His paintings have figures with their own discrete drawing in them - he seems to be less interested in orchestrating masses more in defining them - each within their own "universe" so to speak, each operating as autonomous bodies that happen to co-exist in their respective spaces. Whereas  a Titian drawing moves away from mere delineation into the role of orchestration and control of all the elements within the picture (much in the same way as Matisse would go on to explain how all elements are expressive in the whole).

Rubens is a technical master but I found the line to be more declarative than probing - to put it simply, if you get a section of a Michelangelo drawing out of proportion, albeit a tiny part , the whole form breaks down, whereas a Rubens is more forgiving - they don't really question space in the same way - to be harsh they drift onto the side of slickness at times and often even leave me a little cold, if still hugely impressed however.  A Michelangelo drawing is always highly charged and has a spell-binding tension in every mark - also for all their imposing power, they are deft and delicate.

Titian has élan in all his work and in his drawings,  tone , mass and forms positively swagger about, he sets up balletic rhythms, yet never lapses into mannerism- his drawing is so expansive. Michelangelo felt if Titian could draw better, he could be considered the greatest artist of his time - but I wonder here that Michelangelo was not fully in appreciation of Titian's true genius for drawing, and perceived drawing more in terms of technical mastery of form (so important to his sculpture). You often encounter "inaccuracies" of form in a Titian but correct them and the greater rhythm and phrasing of the whole loses its force, the surface loses his tension, transitions become abrupt and so on (I am reminded of Picasso's saying Art is a lie to tell a greater truth).

Three great artists: Titian the consummate picture maker, Michelangelo the draughtsman par excellence and Rubens the master of technique. Copying Michelangelo's drawing is a humbling experience , Rubens fun and daunting in equal measure,  but Titian is the one who I feel I have learnt the most from… at this point.