I need Sharpies.
While I might try to tell you or myself that I “need” all the different kinds of Sharpies manufactured and marketed in the free world—all the sizes of nibs and shapes of pens in every color—I don’t. I like them all. I enjoying using them all. I love a few in particular (like my copper-metalic Sharpie, for instance).
Let me try to explain, but I’ll have to give context first.
Yesterday I came home after a good but long day one of three of budget work with my primary team (Wycliffe’s Executive Leadership Team). My brain was scrambled as it should be after 7 hours + looking at numbers in boxes and columns. A package was waiting for me and in that package was a book titled Creative Doodling & Beyond by Stephanie Corfee. At first I was just plain feeling blessed that someone who knows me would surprise me with a no-particular-reason kind of gift that fits me so well. Then, after supper, I got out one of the black Sharpies with a fin nib and started to work my way through the first pages of the book. It is a read and then practice workbook kind of deal.
As a life-long doodler myself, I was skeptical at first of the need for me to practice some of the basics of doodling in the spaces provided, but I did it anyway.
Once I was started—feeling a little awkward at first—I got lost in the doodling of my doodles.
You may know (If you happened to read any of my posts about the spectacular iPad app I use called Paper53) that I’ve been doing digital doodles for a while now and love that medium. (If you want to read those, click the Tag “Making Paper for iPad” on this blog and it will search for the others I’ve tagged with that tag.)
After more than an hour of doodling I realized something that is critical for me and suddenly was reminded of a drawing I’d done in the third grade before we moved from Denver to Chicago.
When I draw digitally it is magically possible and ridiculously easy to erase by simply “turning back to a place on the drawing timeline” to before the mistake. Additionally, if I’m loving what I have so far, but want to experiment further, I can simply screen capture multiple versions and start messing with one without losing the thing I loved so far. It’s brilliant and good and I love it.
However, I need mistakes that can’t be erased.
Sharpies are not erasable. When I am doodling and my fingers and brain lose momentary contact and something unintended results, I have to either rip the page out of the book, live with the glaring “mistake” or incorporate the mistake into the design until it becomes retroactively intentional. That is, frankly, what I usually do.
When we moved from Denver I was well into the third grade at Glennon Heights Elementary school and my art teacher had been building a portfolio of my work for a spring art show. She told my mom that one piece I’d done of an elephant was particularly good—as my mom related it to me, she said that I demonstrated my creativity. I remember thinking that the teacher must not be a very good teacher to think that. (Yes, I had opinions at an early age.)
I knew that I’d set out to draw an elephant with the smooth oil pastels on rough construction-paper like manila drawing paper and had messed up too late in the hour to start over and still complete my assignment. I did not like to disappoint, so neither the incomplete work nor the messed up work was acceptable. We had free reign to use a number of supplies in the room, so I went and rummaged through the scrap box and found some strange fabrics, snagged some glue and scissors and began to cover over the mistakes with fabric pieces cut carefully in the shapes that made parts of my elephant. Then, terribly aware that what was a cover-up looked like a cover-up, I started to add embelishment to the fabric with the original medium — the oil pastels. The end result always looked like a mistake to me.
Years later I ran into this one piece of elementary school art in a file my mom kept of a few of the things I’d done over the years. I finally had the courage to tell my Mom that the piece was not a great work of intentional creativity but rather a cover-up of a mistake. She laughed and reminded me that part of creativity is taking our mistakes and making them work. Creativity is not about doing it right all the time. It is not about rewinding the timeline on a drawing to a space before the mistake. Creativity takes the mistakes and incorporates them into something that is actually made better because of the mistake.
See, I need Sharpie Markers. They push me to be creative and help me consistently get over false urges toward perfectionism which I always miss but still seem drawn toward at times.
Sharpie Markers remind me that the Creator is not set on erasing me like a mistake, but rather takes my feeble but uncoordinated attempts at following His line and incorporates me into His design because that’s how He works.