It is only in recent years that his drawings have been studied in detail, now for the first time being documented in a more comprehensive manner. Mark Rothko took in a wide variety of mediums during his career, most frequently using watercolour, ink, graphite and crayon as well as his signature choice of oils. Such was his spontaneous output that much was completed in small sketchbooks, where he could put together work on a flexible basis, whenever he desired. Some of his favourite drawings would then be removed from sketchbooks and remain as a fragile single, loose sheet of paper. Inevitably this would have led to some of these being lost or damaged in the years since his career first took hold.

The themes of Rothko's drawings would also vary considerably. He produced portraits, landscapes and scenes of a domestic nature. The artist had several locations to which he returned on multiple occasions and these appear in his work, such as Portland, OR, Lake George, NY, and Cape Ann, MA. Upon moving to New York City he would adapt his work to find inspiration in the man-made structures of this city, in a similar way to how Piet Mondrian captured the city from a bird's eye view. The artist would also find like minded individuals within this sprawling metropolis which encouraged him to continue in the artistic direction that he was heading, but also allow other influences to creep into his work.