not perfect or flawless

lyric sketch IV, december 2011
lyric sketch IV • sketchbook drawing • Carly Swenson • 2011

I wish I forced myself to sit and sketch more often than I do.  It isn’t that I don’t have time, embarrassingly; I just tend to get distracted with other things like television, facebook, the internet in general.  I’m well aware of the benefits of adding sketching to my regular artistic practices.

I prefer to sketch with pen—not because my work is perfect and flawless the moment my drawings touch the page.  My reason is basically the exact opposite.  If I allow myself to work in pencil—if I allow myself the opportunity to erase, that’s exactly what I will do—over, and over, and over ineffectively searching for some form of perfection.  When I sketch with ink, I am able to keep in mind that I am just sketching. It allows me to play with various visual concepts and combinations of imagery. And then move on. Letting my work be whatever it is–and being okay with that.

lyric sketch V, december 2011
lyric sketch V • sketchbook drawing • Carly Swenson • 2011

Sketching is about the process, enjoying the creativity flowing through me in its raw form, allowing myself to focus on the moment, being in the present—it isn’t about the finished imagery.  Of course, sketches can (and do) provide a fantastic reference for other future, more thoughtfully developed, artworks.  That shouldn’t be reason behind their creation.

If I am solely sketching with the intention of later developing the drawings into a final piece, my mind goes blank.  I feel overwhelmed, anxious and inept.

Inspired by one of my first artist dates, several weeks ago now. I sat on my comfortable green sofa with a dog curled up next to me on either side, listening to music, I allowed my mind to wander.  My thoughts became absorbed in the music, I began creating lines and imagery inspired by the lyrics, memories associated with the song, or images that just came to mind.

Sketching helps to improve my drawing ability and makes me feel calm, content, and art-happy.

lyric sketch VI, december 2011
lyric sketch VI • sketchbook drawing • Carly Swenson • 2011

I’ve already touched on music as an inspiration and influence. Before I started blogging, I hadn’t really analyzed the where/what/who of inspiration in my work.  Forcing myself to look deeper into my art has made me feel more connected to it. In turn, this inspires me more, which provides more for me to write about.  It’s quite a delightful cycle.




10 Replies to “not perfect or flawless”

  1. I don’t usually like stuff like this, but there’s something about your work that I am drawn to: I really really like your sketches! You do, indeed, work well in pen. I’m more of a pencil person myself, but I do try pen here and there. I like pencil because you can use your eraser as a tool to create tones, and pencil is easier to smudge and blend. Having said that, I like the clean crisp lines that a pen allows you. I also like the cross-hatching technique; I digress. Great work, great post :>!


    1. Good point, the eraser as a tool is great–you can always sketch with pencil and then go in later with pen for the crisp lines and cross hatching creating even another level of tones. Anyway–thank you so much for your comment and taking the time to read my post, and keep drawing and making art in whatever manner works for you.:) It is important to express oneself creatively.


  2. I totally agree with everything you have said in this post. I could have written it myself! (although, maybe not as well :D) Love your sketches! I’m inspired to sit and sketch tonight. Thank you!


    1. I wish I could draw in the style of other people–but really we all have our own style and to develop it–just keep a sketchbook and keep drawing. Seriously, I know that sounds cliche but it is true, just draw. You can only get better. A lot of them you might hate, but just keep drawing. I don’t post my horrible sketches, those stay hidden:)


      1. thanks for the advice, I’ll try and find time to draw even more, indeed. I just love how psychadelic those are, and it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland or Tim Burton’s universe someway, but much more brightly poetic, almost in Myiasaki’s way ^^


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