No pencils allowed

So I got a sketchbook and a set of artist pens for Christmas. One of the first things that went through my mind was: I need to get some pencils.


Because with pencils you can go back and erase any mistakes. You can try again. And again. Until you get it right. Then you can trace over the “right” drawing with the pens.

If you make a mistake with a pen, you’re screwed! You can’t erase! You can only scratch it out or mark over what you initially put on the page and it looks messy and horrible.

Or does it?

Maybe another way to see it is that mistakes made in pen reveal your process.

Maybe you have to just accept the “imperfection” and just keep drawing.

These thoughts reminded of a writing process I heard about where you don’t go back and fix anything; you just keep writing. The Delete Key is forbidden. The first order of business is to get that draft onto the page. Editing is for later.

I admit I have never written like this. Instead, I tinker. I play with a sentence over and over, deleting and rewriting until I think I get it right. I admit it makes for slow writing.

I hesitated before I scrambled for a pencil for my sketchbook: I know I would tinker with my drawings, too. I would erase and erase and draw over and draw over until the sketch was “right.” But then how long would it take me to finish one sketch? Days? Suddenly sketching seemed a lot less fun and a lot more work.

So I decided that the pens are all I need. I will draw without an eraser. No pencils allowed. If I make a mistake, that’s okay. It’s a sketchbook, not a commissioned piece of art! And it won’t be on public display, except for the excerpts I may choose to post from time to time.

I think that will be my New Year’s resolution: to fill up my sketchbook using only pens. There’s 240 pages in the sketchbook so that gives me some wiggle room if I am unable to sketch each and every day. But no pencils allowed! Mistakes will happen, and I will let them be.

Here is the first drawing I did in the book. I admit I concentrated really hard NOT to make a mistake. Which is probably cheating…?

Then my daughter wanted me to draw her doll. I try not to twitch when I see how poor of a replication it turned out to be and that I can’t go back and erase things like that smaller eye…


But I shall breathe and accept and keep turning the page. Art is a process.


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