Monday Motivator: Pick a Line, Any Line

“Thinking you have no talent can be a self-fufilling prophecy. …

A positive attitude accelerates your development as a creative artist. … Emphasize the joy of creating, rather than the achievement of results. … Skills build confidence, so work to improve your drawing and refine your painting techniques …

While you’re working, notice the good things you’ve done — don’t dwell on mistakes. Set achievable goals: a confident line, effective use of values, interesting shapes.”

Nita Leland, “The Creative Artist”, page 7

I know not to do it, yet I still do it on occasion. That back-and-forth motion with a pencil when drawing a line in the (mistaken) belief it’ll magically become a better line if I have numerous goes at it rather than putting it down in one swipe across the paper. I call it a “hedge-your-bets line”, where making a decision about what will be the “right” line feels impossible, so you create a variety of possibilities.

Saying you ought to draw a confident or decisive line when you lack confidence in your drawing doesn’t help. What if instead we go with “pick a line, any line, and draw in in one go from a starting point to an end point and then see what it turns out like”. Any line progresses a drawing. It may not end up as you’d envisaged but it may equally end up beyond what you’d thought you could do.

Drawing with pencil invites indecisiveness because you can reach for an eraser after any and every line. Drawing with pen has the advantage that you have to keep going, responding to what you’ve put down on the paper whether you like it or not. Drawing with watersoluble ink or watercolour pencils might be the comfort zone you’re looking for because you can ‘dissolve’ lines with a brush afterwards.

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