From Pencil to Ink, How I Mastered Drawing / by Lara Neece

  **No pencils were used in the making of this drawing.

**No pencils were used in the making of this drawing.

In the beginning, I fell in love with drawing. It wasn't love at first exactly, but there was an initial excitement and amazement at this magic ability that I had neglected almost my whole life. I had always loved art. A self-proclaimed doodler when I was younger, I studied art history in high school, but I never took any studio art classes because I never thought I had "the talent".

But then I took Drawing 101 in college, which I actually only signed up for because it was a prerequisite for Painting 101, and I discovered that - gasp - I could draw! Though my early drawings weren't fantastic, they were solid. We warmed up each class with timed sketches of a model in a series of quick 30-second poses and, though it pushed me way out of my comfort zone, I loosened up and started to capture moments. I remember distinctly a loose little sketch of the back of a crouched figure, his feet in the foreground rendered so beautifully with one line, each round toe flowing into the balls of his feet, which protruded below an arched back and receded to the nape of a neck and bowed head. I loved the way that quick little drawing felt alive. It had depth and feeling, which transcended the moment; in my mind it was perfection.

When I practiced drawing on my own, I struggled to get into that flow. I wanted every drawing to look good quickly and effortlessly, but I was the overbearing parent, quick to judge and even faster with the eraser. Before I even made a mark on the paper, I was already controlling it in my mind, willing it to be right. Subsequently my drawings felt lifeless; they were a poor representation of reality. I spent a long time drawing in that way before I realized that it was the eraser holding me back. If I couldn't erase, I thought, then I could only make new marks and keep moving forward. I couldn't linger on my "mistakes." I had to trust my instincts.

I switched to using only Micron ink pens (still my favorite drawing pens to this day). It was a struggle in the beginning and still is. If I'm not in the zone, I can certainly make some pretty terrible drawings. But I've moved on. I don't beat myself up over it. Sometimes you have to make a "bad" drawing before you can make a good one. You can't erase yourself to a good drawing (unless you are working with charcoal of course!). I taught myself how to incorporate the mistakes into the work, how to hide them among other details or thicken a line to change a shape.

I wouldn't call myself a master at drawing, but I have mastered drawing. With enough time and patience, I am certain that I could render hyper-realistic drawings with the best of them, although that isn't my goal. In my mind, mastering drawing means that I can sit down and draw with confidence knowing that I will eventually capture my subject in a way that is recognizable, pleasing, and meets my expectations. It may not happen the first time I sit down to it, but it will happen nonetheless.

If you find yourself over erasing or trying to control your drawings, maybe set a timer or just ditch your eraser. Let the ink flow as it will. Whatever happens, just don't stop drawing.