“Which road do I take?” asked Alice. “Where do you want to go?” asked the Cheshire Cat. “I don’t know” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter”, said the cat.  [Lewis Caroll]

Today I’m 44 and still full of doubts, not knowing where I want to go… Looking for my Perfect Line in my drawings, striving to find “My Style”. I still feel like a beginner…

But this is no problem, I discovered lately. It keeps your work fresh and your mind engaged: keep thinking like a beginner!

When I started painting and drawing again after about 20 years of doing “nothing” (but working to make a living…) it felt terrible, like starting from zero. I felt my art looked like a four year old made it! But at least four year old kids don’t feel shame about their art and are having fun making it. I did feel ashamed and had no fun at all. I was just suffering! It felt like muscles you stop using, or languages you stop speaking: they kind of disappear, but with exercise they do come back!

A book that helped me get over this period was Danny Gregory’s book “Everyday Matters”. It’s a memoir about a part of his life, where he learns himself how to draw. The beautiful text and the drawing process is very inspiring.

He explains very well that drawing is about seeing: stop seeing the world in symbols (a nose like a triangle, an eye like a circle with another circle in it,…), but really look at the shapes, the curves, the bumps, the contours and the shadows. Looking at people and things like that make you see beauty and love everywhere. Slow down your life and draw… There’s beauty in everything when you look this way: everything is unique, special, interesting and beautiful.

But then, when that first line that you have imagined in your head is finally on paper, you find it flat and ugly, and the monkeys in your head will tell you to stop: “You don’t have to keep doing this, you’re not talented enough, it’s not really your fault: nobody in your family is artistic, you will get hurt by people laughing at you and make a fool of yourselves,”  These monkeys want to bring you into safety, away from the risks of the critics, but they also take you away from new experiences, from growing, from joy… So don’t listen to the critics and the monkeys and get back to the pen and paper and paint and draw, draw, draw more!

And by continuing to draw, you suddenly will feel a shift. You will look down at your sweaty paper and a part of of the drawing will look good! You can do it!

Don’t listen to the critics, don’t let them prevent you from having fun and showing up. Giving critique is easy, to make a thing isn’t.

And by drawing regularly, you can find “Your Line”. It will not be perfect. (Perfection is boring! Perfection has no personality!) No, Your Line will show your truth and your personality. Did I find my line? I think so, but there are different kinds of lines, depending on my mood and because I am like that: I like to do many different things… Be who You are: it’s about Your truth.

And especially: have fun!

Here are some interesting questions I found in “Sketchbookskool” , in Danny Gregory’s online class (great place by the way if you like sketchbooks: http://sketchbookskool.com/)

Why are you here? What’s the story of your creativity, lost, frustrated or not fully formed? What do you want from making art? What’s been getting in your way? How far have you come, what’s blocking the road, and what lies on the other side?

Tell me in the comments below!

Ira Glass on storytelling

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