My drawings have always been done in pencil. I needed that ability to erase and redraw indefinitely in a quest for perfection and any attempts to restrain myself from these endless revisions always failed. I drew all the time when I was younger, usually attempting to replicate animals, people, or objects exactly as I saw them. I had a love-hate relationship with the whole process, feeling joy when I nailed it but frustration if it didn’t look just right.
I recently bought a sketch pad and decided to revive this piece of myself after about a 7 year hiatus. As I sat there wondering where the hell to start, I found myself doing the same old thing, trying to draw faces with precise detail. But so much had changed since I last picked up the pencil, so why was I trying to draw with the mentality of a past version of myself? I mean, if I wanted a picture of something that looked exactly like the subject, I might as well just take a photo.
Perfection no longer seemed like the right objective. My life and my work had become so full of structure, lists, and calendars. I wanted whatever I drew now to be the opposite of that. I wanted it to be less about the end result and more about the process itself, of creating something without a plan, letting it evolve, and accepting it for whatever it turned out to be.
But habits are hard to shake, and the only way I could break through was to make myself use a tool with more permanence. When you draw with ink, there’s no going back. No eraser, no Ctrl + Z. You’re lines might be messy, your forms disproportionate but for better or worse, you’re making a commitment each time you touch pen to paper.
What started as a single eye, evolved into a face, but a face unlike any I had drawn before. His features were asymmetrical, unruly. He wasn’t handsome. He looked homeless. I’m not really sure where he came from, but there he was, and as I looked at what I had done, I realized my perception of beauty had changed. I could see it now in the unique, the flawed, and the energy that something makes you feel. An unintended epiphany that is changing what I see when I look in the mirror and out at the world.
And so my friends, if you have a pen and paper nearby, take five minutes and just see what happens.