Are You Creating Worried Lines?

A worried line is a line that’s created by drawing lots of short back-and-forth sections to make a line because you’re too hesitant and worried to draw the line along its entire length in one go. A hedge-your-bets line. An “if I get this little bit right then I might get the next little bit right too and maybe then it’ll all be right” line. You worry the whole way through its creation, worrying it into existence.

It feels reassuring, but it’s counter-productive. Hesitation isn’t your drawing friend; willingness to risk not getting it right but doing it anyway is.

It’s a form of assessing and editing what we’ve done before we’ve even finished it. It’s a step in relearning as an adult the unquestioning confidence we had in our lines as a child. The sooner you can get through this step the better, but at the same time don’t beat yourself up about it.

Talking to another artist about this yesterday, she mentioned how one of her college art tutors had said something about the quality of lines that had stuck with her but only truly made sense later on. How a line must reflect what it contains. How a line drawn in a circle to represent an orange needs to hold all of the inside of the orange. How an outline for an apple will be different.

So the idiom about apples and oranges applies to lines too.

Worry (think) about the differences, but before and after, not while you’re putting pencil on paper to create the line. Worry a line only after it exists.

Lines Shore Black and Orange Ink Drawing

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