Sketching Zen and weighing the options (drawing)

This was yesterday’s visual artistic exploration.
I created this one the “analog” way… sketching with good old-fashioned ink on paper.

Zen Sketch II by Luna Jade ~

As I experiment with the different drawing mediums, I am finding it interesting to discover what I like/don’t like/prefer about each. Thinking out loud, here are some of my observations. [Your mileage may vary.]

Along the way, I recognized some similarities, parallels, and metaphors to “the bigger picture.”

The Analog way (ink on paper):


  • a more “organic” approach to creative expression: I enjoy the tactile feel of the pen on paper… holding the sketch book in my hands, hearing/feeling the scratch of the pen as it glides across the textured surface, seeing the visual effect of how the light hits the sketch at different angles and intensities. [couldn’t we all use a little more organic in our lives?]
  • No UNDO = no going back: Each element I draw is pretty much permanently committed, so it forces me to keep moving forward instead of second guessing and doing it over (not an option). [hmmm, is that a life metaphor?] Plus, this actually saves a lot of time.
  • It exercises my imagination and creative problem solving skills: Not being able to erase the element that I’m not quite happy with encourages me to come up with creative ideas and fixes to make it work to my satisfaction in the drawing… or it forces me to just get over it and accept it the way it is. [another life metaphor?]
  • The ability to view the artwork real-time as I work with it: Sketching the piece “old school” – with pen and paper – allows me to view the actual image as it develops and get a real sense of its overall effect.

  • No UNDO = no going back: If I really hate it, I’m stuck with it… possibly to the point of trashing the drawing. [that would be a shame, but no effort is ever truly wasted. We learn from each mistake.]
  • The image isn’t in digital form: I have to photograph or scan the image to work with it digitally for printing, posting, publishing, etc.

The Digital way (iPad and stylus or computer and tablet):


  • UNDO is my friend: On the flip side, the geek and perfectionist in me prefers the flexibility of drawing on the iPad (or computer). If an element I sketched didn’t come out the way I wanted, I can hit the undo, step back and do it again. (and this happens quite a bit). Take, for instance, my bad handwriting on this image. I should have printed my name more slowly. *shakes head* If I had been working digitally, I could have fixed that. [You know what they say… “Practice makes perfect.” :) ]
  • Working with layers: The best part of working with layers is the ability to test a design idea without committing it to the drawing. If it doesn’t work, I can delete the layer without disturbing the rest of the image, then create something new. [Kind of like exploring parallel universes… testing which choice and path fits better in your overall picture. Ooh, wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that in real life?!]
  • The ability to Zoom in: There’s a degree of precision possible in digital form that I just can’t get down to when working analog. Being able to get down to the pixel level allows me to really fine-tune my creation (the perfectionist’s dream). But this benefit comes with an element of risk… making it too perfect has the tendency of diminishing the humanity in art. [and in life.]
  • The image is already in digital form: There are no extra steps needed to work with it digitally for printing, posting, publishing, etc.

  • UNDO can be a time suck: There is a downside to unlimited do-over – it ends up eating a lot of time if/when I go through many iterations to try and render it to the letter of what my mind sees (the perfectionist’s curse). The time spent in re-do could have been applied to finishing the drawing or creating something new. Sometimes a re-do is the best choice and sometimes it’s an unnecessary halt in the flow. I guess it just takes practice to hone the instinct to recognize when it’s good enough… time to put the stick in the sand and move on.
  • I can’t see the physical form while I’m working on it: This is not really an issue if the intended presentation form of my artwork is in the digital realm. But if the piece will be rendered in physical form and displayed, I can’t really get a good sense of the composition while I’m working with it unless I print it and view it in the “real world” to experience its overall effect (another halt in the flow). This is not quite as immediate and gratifying as just stepping back from the sketch, canvas, etc. and taking it in.

I could go on in greater detail about my impressions of the virtues and liabilities of each drawing medium, but it would take more time and space than is necessary. [I’d rather spend it creating!]

So, which is my preferred drawing medium? Both have their charms and benefits… and their shortcomings. For the project that started this little adventure, I will create the drawings digitally. The initial intended use/presentation form is digital, so there’s no need to create the images “old school.”

Beyond this project, I can see continuing to venture forth in both directions… there’s a right time and place for any and all approaches. Maybe even play around with mixing the two. Oh, how I love to explore… ;>

LJ Sketched Logo .:. Luna Jade ~