When I begin an illustration, more often than not, I have no idea where the pencil will take me. I look at the grooves in the paper and let my mind wander a bit, seeing if a character may take shape there alongside the shadows on the page.
Often when my pencil finally makes its very first marks atop the paper, they are struck by my dear friend, the eraser.
I have never been the type of artist whose first drawn lines are their final lines. I erase, and erase, and erase some more, sometimes completely changing the direction the illustration was heading in before deciding on one that seems to fit just right.
This happened with one of my more recent illustrations, of a mother sea nymph watching her small son practicing his swimming techniques alongside a curious school of fish. I began the illustration with the lines of the mother’s face, only they didn’t start out that way. At first, the lines formed a fish, then were erased. They formed a human next, and once again were scratched away.
All the while, there was something in those first lines that prevented me from erasing them entirely and beginning again. I knew there was something there that needed to be drawn and after several attempts, they took shape and became the underwater nymph that I ended up with. I find it interesting that after having started out as both a human and a fish, these lines merged into a combination of the two and finally seemed to fit.
This all goes to show that if you are anything like me when it comes to drawing and illustration, you may not know where your road is headed until you’ve exhausted every other route to get there. As far as I’m concerned, every time you use that trusty eraser, you are learning and growing as an artist and are one step closer to discovering a story that needs telling.