Fern & Oak


How ink drawing has helped tackle perfectionism

Recently I have been travelling a lot (I just got back from my 4th trip to Holland in the past 2 months) and it can be pretty tricky keeping up with art whilst on the road. Especially as a mixed media artist, it’s near impossible to be able to use my normal favourite supplies. When flying, I tend to do hand luggage only (less faff!) so there’s not enough allowance for inks, and lots of pens etc. This time round I decided to really strip things back, and just bring 1 sketchbook (an A5 moleskine) and a handful of pens.

I used to draw a lot, and only draw. There was something about paint that I was almost afraid of – I used to struggle immensely with perfection and would spend weeks on a tiny painting. In the end it was too intense so I stopped painting altogether. I have always drawn, with good or bad results, it is something that is a part of me and I don’t think the inner need to draw will ever go away.

Saying that, having reconnected with my love of paint (and ink!) I haven’t done so many drawings and kept them at that – it’s always been a drawing before painting. Maybe that’s okay and that’s my natural progression, but I did miss the satisfaction of drawing for drawing’s sake, not for painting’s sake. So, I’ve decided to strip back and focus on drawing, and drawing with ink. No pencil sketches to guide me first!

I’ll be honest, the main driver for the no pencils was simply a lack of time and space! Most of my latest drawings have been done on a hotel bed, a train or airplane! But what I found intriguing, was the more ink drawings I did, the less scared I was of mucking them up. After all, you screw up in ink, you’re done, right? It got me thinking about my struggles with perfection. I’m a lot more loving to myself now, but I still struggle with these things and it felt like a small but strong achievement for me to produce page after page of smudged and wonky ink drawings and enjoy them and not really care if I mucked up!

I totally mucked up some if not of all of the ink drawings. But that’s okay! It actually gives them charm, and character and life. Nothing in this world is perfect, and there’s really not that many opportunities to sketch out what will happen first with a safe pencil and eraser to back you up if things go wrong. You’ve just got to flow with it and work through the muck ups and the wonky lines and the smudges because that is living, and that’s what makes us who we are.

Embrace your imperfections and your ink splots! Draw without a pencil and live life on the wild side ;-) small steps like this may just help you let go of perfection as a whole…