The Bearded Man Who Came Out Of My Pen

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.


4 thoughts on “The Bearded Man Who Came Out Of My Pen

  1. You have unhinged yourself from the shackles of our own self imposed oppression, murdered the “writer’s block”, and fruitfully enabled your own wondrous streams of creativity to flow like the wild rapids they must be. Ah this is very refreshing. As I doodled in Bryant Park last week, under a warm midday Sun; the acrylic markers also gave me a sense of permanence. However, that permanence is yet another perceptual illusion for me, and accepting the ‘flaws’ naturally enabled me to materialize a catapult into launching myself into developing conviction towards continuing yet another journey. This time as a budding (full-time) creator.

    BTW, he reminds me of Plato! When I thinks of Plato, then it is natural to wonder about Socrates. The other side to this this drachma is the drawing makes me think of Plato, then I also seek to read some Aristotle!

    Thanks for point me towards here. Upward and Onward!

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