Erasing Fear

Erasing Fear

posted in: Illustration | 2

I had a lot of irrational fears as a kid. I avoided swimming pools because I was convinced a trap door was going to open and allow a great white in (Thanks, James Bond movies), I wouldn’t go to sleep with my feet uncovered for fear they’d be bitten off in the night, and I wouldn’t use the shower. Not really sure why, but it was definitely fear-based. Seriously, I would sit there while the water ran so my parents would think I’d showered. In retrospect, they must have known since I came out as smelly as I went in.

Fast forward to adulthood and I’m happy to say 2 of those 3 aforementioned irrational fears have been conquered. I’ll leave you to guess which one hasn’t. However, new fears have crept in. For quite a while I was afraid of… my eraser. This is kind of big problem for an illustrator.

Here’s how it would go: I would start a new drawing and like the direction it was going. I’d get pretty pumped about various elements of it and get tunnel vision on those elements. I’d fill in the other pieces quickly and sloppily more because I had to than because I wanted to. I might even try to hide them with some ambiguous element like smoke or a tree branch. I’d work and work then stare and stare knowing that the overall piece did not work. Maybe the contralateral positioning of limbs was off, or the perspective wasn’t correct based on the angle; whatever. Now enter now the fear. I didn’t want to erase my good lines for fear I couldn’t get them the super sweet way I already had again. Sure, they weren’t working in the context of the whole, but I’d force it instead of starting them over. I’d keep that eraser on the desk as more of decoration. Its only real purpose was to come and destroy my cool lines after all! In defiance of that wretched stripper of strokes, that peeler of pencils, I’d dig my lines in hard like I was chiseling the Ten Commandments.

The results were not good. Maybe I’d do better next time. Maybe I’d get all the lines perfect. This irrational fear was wrecking my work. There was so little life, fun, energy, or movement to any new illustration.

There are some deep tangents I could get into here, but for a first blog post I’ll keep it nearer the surface. I’ve rediscovered a more childlike joy for the craft, and started making things for the love of creation. The eraser comes out early and often now as there is excitement behind getting a sensational stroke or luscious line or killer curve. The fear of not being able to replicate a line I might have liked is gone in favor of the next awesome one I can conjure. The eraser has now become a crucial part in creating bigger and bigger worlds and shaping them to my hearts delight.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18

2 Responses

  1. Julianne Nesselroade
    | Reply

    Never thought that you were the reason my classroom smelled like a junior high locker room!

    • Mark A Gilchrist
      | Reply

      Oh, you had to have suspected at some level. High school was pivotal in my art career as it gave me so many books to draw in.

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