When I first started sketching, I would treasure every drawing. I would see everything I drew as supremely important. This can be good, but at the same time it can put far too much pressure on you to produce something every time. This means that sometimes it can be a good thing, but at the same time, can also be supremely depressing. Something that would bother me a lot would be if I filled up a lot of my sketchbook in pencil and a lot of drawing smeared a tiny bit because of the pages pushing against each other. It was inevitable for pages to do that.
SO I started using pen. I started using pen specifically to solve the smearing issue. It wasn’t till after I was using pen for a while that the other benefits became obvious. For one, drawing in pen really made me sharper mentally. As I was drawing something I would control the weight of the strokes so much better because I was unable to erase.
In doing this it also taught my brain that everything I put down was important. So I was much more careful about what I committed to and what I didn’t. This translated into my other mediums. By the time I started working in paint, I noticed a more careful hand.
Fighting the Fear of using Pen
I’ve seen a lot of reluctance to do this. I have a friend that refuses to work with pen because he is extremely afraid of the results he will get. So if this is you, I urge you to get over it. Here are a few things you can do. You don’t have to use your primary sketchbook. You could get a pile of printing paper and start going through that. Another thing you could do is to get a special separate sketchbook to do pen drawing. If you quarantine your pen drawing into a specific book, it’ll alleviate pressure. Another thing you can do is to create a “garbage sketchbook”, which is what I do. I buy a sketchbook specifically to get all my warmups out of the way. It’s essentially a sketchbook where nothing matters in it. That helps me get into the drawing spirit and helps me get my knowledge back to the surface of my fingertips.
Sketching in pen is going to be all about getting out of your comfort zone. If you are an artist it’s almost rare for you to get out of your comfort zone to grow and learn. You won’t get anywhere doing the same old thing. You don’t want to spin your wheels of years only to realize you wasted so much time on the same old thing. So really, it’s time to break the chains of fear and try out something new which is when you will grow and make progress as an artist. Don’t be scared of the unknown because sometimes, the unknown is good as it gives you the drive to strive for more and in the process, discover a new world of reality that you never thought possible. Remember this simple fact: “Nothing ventured; nothing gained!”
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