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Recently, I tried drawing on actual paper. I mean, this isn’t a new thing. I used to draw on paper. I still scratch things out on paper all the time. Just rough notepad sketches when I’m testing out an idea or figuring out a shape. But I never actually draw on paper anymore. Not proper drawing. Not something I want to finish. It feels a little strange.

I used to draw on paper all the time. Like actually all the time. I spent years doing it. I bought special pencils for drawing. Then, when I realized I liked different pencils better, I bought those instead. Then I bought boxes of entirely different pencils, because these new ones turned out to be so much more to my liking. I tended toward the blue and red ones. Pencils with just the right amount of pigment and wax so the lines could stay sharp when I wanted and flow when I tilted my hand just so.

I bought special paper too. Paper with just the right amount of tooth and snap. Paper that wasn’t too white, wasn’t too thin. Paper that matched my style of drawing. Whatever I thought that was.

When I recently went to draw on paper, I couldn’t even find my pencils. I had become so divorced from the act of drawing on paper that the tools to do the job weren’t nearby.

My IPad pencil is literally right in front of me as I type this.

I still draw all the time. I draw at the very least several times a week. Some weeks it’s every day. But all of my drawing is done on a computer or a tablet. All of my drawing is done digitally.

I can imagine that there is some loss of romance to that. The act of putting pencil to paper should mean something. Making actual physical marks on real paper. Spreading molecules of tinted medium across plant fibres in a way that is permanent. In a way that will probably outlive me. That should mean something, right?

I found my pencils and I sketched in a sketch book. What I discovered is that I didn’t feel it. Whatever caveman part of my brain that should respond to the act of physical drawing, I didn’t have it.

Drawing digitally, with a glowing screen and an electronic pencil feels just as natural to me now as using graphite… or whatever is stuffed inside these really great pencils that I have.

It didn’t feel bad when I drew on paper. It just didn’t seem to matter. What I craved was the result. I want the smooth mark created by the arc my wrist and arm. I want the illusion of dimensionality created in a flat image. I want the soft gradient I make when I vary the pressure of my hand and the speed of my movement. I want the result and the process, but I don’t have any particular affinity toward how I go about that.

Digital is fine by me. As long as that’s an option, I’ll probably continue to draw that way.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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