Sunday, March 18, 2012

Erasers are for Weenies

Sketched on 10/14/11, pencil on watercolor paper

Like most people learning to draw, I started out using a pencil – light, tentative lines that could be easily erased.

But authors of several books I’ve read insist that you learn more from your drawings if you don’t erase. Make a bold, dark, indelible line, they say, and if you don’t like it, “restate” the line. In other words, erasers are for weenies. Huh. I wasn’t sure, exactly, what I’d learn from all those “restated” lines. But I had to admit that erasing and redrawing was taking a lot of time, and when I’m sketching people going about their business, such as in a coffee shop, they tend to get up and leave eventually. If I’m spending more time erasing than sketching, I won’t have much to show for in my sketchbook.

If I look at it philosophically, it goes like this: Erasing implies that the original line I made was a “mistake,” which erasing and redrawing would “correct.” But for something to be a “mistake,” a “correct” answer must exist. In my sketchbook, I knew a “correct” answer of any kind would not be found. Thus, erasing wasn’t necessary.

Sketched on 3/8/12, Akashiya Sai brush pen on Global Art Materials Hand Book
So I took those authors’ advice (and my philosophical attitude) to heart, and about a month after I started drawing, I stopped using an eraser. In fact, for the most part, I quit using a pencil, since if I couldn’t erase, there were other media I preferred, such as mechanical drawing pens and brush markers. (When I occasionally do sketch with a pencil, I still don’t erase.) This guy working on his laptop was wearing a “restated” ski cap, not a turbin. 

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