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Learning from mistakes

It’s the last week of Seeing kourse in Sketchbook Skool and I’ve been reflecting on all that I’ve that learned this past six weeks. Once again I’m amazed at how much progress I’ve made – my biggest achievement this semester has been to end it having lost my fear of using watercolour, as this sketch I made this week for Liz Steel’s klass shows.

It’s great to finish off with such a successful sketch, but some of the best lessons I’ve had this semester have come from mistakes. Danny Gregory, founder of Sketchbook Skool, insists that bad drawings are the best teachers, while SBS teacher Tommy Kane insists that a mistake never equals disaster; both he, Danny and other SBS teachers encourage students never to give up on a drawing because of a mistake. I’ve tried to take their advice on board and keep going with all my sketches no matter what, and have often been amazed at how well my sketches turn out in the end. The “mistakes”, which usually happen in the early stages of a drawing and are usually because I’m not “seeing” properly, I’m just not focusing on what I’m doing, often almost disappear into the drawing if I just rectify the line and keep going.

Take the example above. There’s a slightly thicker black line in the shadow on the left side of the lampshade. That was my first line, intended to be the edge of the lampshade. As soon as I’d drawn it I knew it was wrong – if I’d continued with that the line the whole drawing would have been wrong. So I drew the line again and carried on. And the drawing works. The line’s there, it’s visible but you don’t really notice it unless you look for it, but it’s a good reminder to pay attention when I place that first line!

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