This is an artist who made use of different media throughout his career, sometimes even using natural resources such as sand or pebbles. Collages were also common, as were techniques which derived from his time prior to becoming a professional artist. The majority of drawings that we have remaining from Braque's career are preparatory pieces for later cubist paintings, where he would try out different manipulations of reality in pencil and charcoal, prior to doing the more complex task in oil. It would always be easier and quicker to amend in this early stage, rather than trying to alter a complex, interconnected oil painting when he felt something was not quite right. Cubism itself was a new idea created by Picasso and Braque himself, and so there was plenty of room for investigation. He produced a large number of still lifes too, and it could almost become an obsession to re-arrange the various items in order to get the balance of each painting just right. Again, re-arranging at the earlier stage of drawing was always preferential.
The stylish sketch pictured in this page is actually from c.1932-33 and was simply titled, Flowers. It is a good example of how Braque would use drawing as an experimental medium, which he would use to take on all manner of different challenges and interests. If you look closely at the sketch itself you will notice a number of interesting observations. Firstly, the artist has signed this drawing, which underlines how he saw this art form as important, where as others might leave it unsigned and have little interest in others later discovering the piece. He recognised the beauty that can be found even when an artwork is relatively simple, and was clearly proud to put his name to this fairly brief depiction of flowers. Secondly, you may also notice a series of notes that he made around the different flowers, which helps us to better understand the working processes that he used during his career. It also suggests that he may have kept these drawings together with the intention of refering to them later, otherwise his note taking would not have served any purpose.
If we take Fruit Dish and Glass as a casestudy, we do know that the artist draw in all major elements of the composition prior to starting the next stages. He would cut out slices of wallpaper and then glue them in the areas already marked. After that he would perhaps adjust the edges and then start to draw over the top of other areas of the painting. We can see that in that artwork the lettering was hand written, and there are also obvious areas where he added shading, probably with a pencil or charcoal. Such a design most likely would have been planned in advance elsewhere, probably with a series of drawings using the same pencil or charcoal tools as used here. As well as wallpaper, he would often use elements of newspaper too, just as Picasso and Gris would also do. Many remember the editions of Le Figaro or Le Journal that were repurposed for the Cubist movement and there remains some confusion around who decided to do it first. Braque also perfected wood effect drawing, where he would create the look of wood on paper, and then glue the design onto another artwork.
French art has always placed a great significance on the ability to draw, whether it be for painters or even sculptors. In previous centuries, for example, one could not be considered a great painter if they were not able to impress in this medium too. It was to say that qualities as a draughtsman would provide evidence of a proper artistic education as well as raw, natural abilities which could not be faked. Things are a little more open minded today, but those following the common paths of artistic education will still start with drawing before they move on to other mediums. It also provides the basis behind so many other disciplines, be it preparing for a figurative sculpture or laying out a portrait painting. In the example of Braque, his different mediums would often combine together, and so there was no real separation between his drawings, paintings, collages, etc, with many artworks featuring a mixture of all of these, and more, techniques.
The cubists were revolutionary in the use of perspective and tonal graduation, after European artists have been developing its use ever since around the early Renaissance. After the relatively flat approach used in Gothic art, there was now a much more realistic approach to these technical disciplines but this was now to change with the arrival of the likes of Gris, Braque and Picasso. Their developments, where foreground and background could actually start to merge together into a new reality, would have been worked on with pencil and paper, before oils were even used. It was a theoretical idea that they slowly turned into an art movement and many study sketches have been uncovered that display how they pushed these ideas forwards over time. The cubists wanted to help the viewer understand objects by depicting them in new ways, not simply showing how they look in reality. The changing of angles, for example, could allow them to get more information across. One example of that might be the table tops which are shown flat, as if viewing from above, whilst the rest of the scene may be more from side on, allowing us to see more of the surface area and its contents.