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When I first started to learn to draw, it was easy to get discouraged because my  drawings did not meet my expectations. They often look discombobulated with shapes that were incorrectly drawn.  My critical voice was like a referee, throwing down the yellow flag and blowing the whistle.  Learning  to silence this voice, allowed me the freedom to play around with my new drawing skills which was critical to practicing and improving. Who needs a referee when you are playing around?  I would finish one drawing and start a new one.

Camera 2011In this beginning hand drawing image the lens looks like it is melted. I had let go of  the referee and appreciate the expressive character of the image.    Computer generated or photographic images have a more perfect look, hand drawings come with a flavor of being “not quite right” which often makes the image interesting.  What about you?  Can you lose that referee and keep on drawing?


  1. Sharee Gaither says:

    I get discouraged so much sometimes when I’m just freehand sketching and doing other drawings related to it. I need to loose the referee in my head as well so I can just draw and create without thinking so much out perfection. Great drawings!

  2. Jacqueline Liberio says:

    I like your referee analogy. I sometimes challenge myself by using pen so that instead of being able to erase mistakes I have have to somehow incorporate them into the piece. My referee is kind of strict in that even when I finish a drawing my mind wanders to the imperfections. You are right though, sometimes its the things that look slightly off that make a picture interesting.

  3. I also have a little referee inside my head that continues to bring out my perfectionist side. I think this article really spoke to me in several ways with the most important one being to let it go and continue to practice because with practice, my drawing skills will improve and I will be able to get it right the first time or second rather than the 20th time I have drawn it. I also think that with some imperfections, character can be seen within the drawing or artwork which is what makes it unique.

    • drawinghand says:

      Thank you for noting your own observations about your perfectionist side. I hope by recognizing this voice you will be able to quiet it. You are so right about the power of practice, repeating a drawing technique will get this in your body. Prof. Stephanie

  4. Katey Pasco says:

    I have a referee before I even start. I love drawing with tools, but when it comes to freehand drawings I psych myself out before I even begin — as I have fallen short to my expectations many times previously. I’m a perfectionist so if something is not quite right I ball up the drawing and start over again. I know I will need to lose the referee sometimes but it is definitely easier said than done.

    • drawinghand says:

      Hello Katey,
      Here is something I suggest you try, put the drawings away or turn the sketch page. Go back and look at them at a later time. You may surprise yourself and see that they have some good qualities. Don’t ball up your paper and start over!
      Prof. Stephanie

  5. Lisa Mochalkin says:

    You are always your worst critic. When I drawing something I usually step away and take a break from it. When I come back to it I find it looks a lot better than when I was first drawing it. I never thought I would be able to draw or even comprehend how to start a drawing. Now looking at this drawing I can imagine how you started the drawing and the prospective that it is in.

  6. kasturi chatterjee says:

    you express well, really lucid.

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