Ignoring The Experts: Is It A Mistake Or Is It Your Style?

Several people who have seen my sketchbook have commented on my graphic drawing style. I’m astonished to learn I have a style at all. I just draw what makes sense to me.

When I took a drawing class in the 90s, the teacher kept nagging me about my non-existent backgrounds. I drew an object or figure with no setting at all and despite the teacher’s nagging, continued to do so. I did the same with my recent assignments for Sketchbook Skool. The only exception was my kitchen drawing, which was hyper-detailed because that was the point of the exercise.

Backgrounds are overrated. (The note is wrong. Actually, it's a small glass sculpture by Cleo Dunsmore Buchanan; Drawing by Kit Dunsmore)
Backgrounds are overrated. (The note is wrong. Actually, it’s a glass sculpture by Cleo Dunsmore Buchanan; Drawing by Kit Dunsmore)

Drawing an object without a background is not a mistake, but a choice. I draw what catches my attention, what I notice, what feels important to me. That is how I discover my style, my voice.

There were more chairs, more people, loads of stuff beyond what I drew, but this was the part that caught my attention. (Drawing by Kit Dunsmore)
There were more chairs, more people, loads of stuff beyond what I drew, but this was the part that caught my attention. (Drawing by Kit Dunsmore)

Be brave. Do what feels right. Make choices. Do not let anyone tell you it’s a mistake or that you did it wrong. As long as it was your intent, then it’s all right, even if you don’t like the results. You are allowed to say, “That didn’t work.” Just remember, it’s not a mistake if you did it on purpose.

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

2 thoughts on “Ignoring The Experts: Is It A Mistake Or Is It Your Style?”

  1. It’s very interesting, the point you make and I fully agree. ‘Teachers’ can truly put off the budding learner, when it’s nurturing and practice that is really required. Also, I think nowadays, teachers probably do have a much more open view to style than when I went to art school and was often knocked back with the styles I was developing – many years on I wish I had had the strength of mind to do what I felt worked, it’s taken all this time to develop that confidence.

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    1. Developing our style is a lifelong process assuming we keep stretching. In the end, we need to be our own best nurturer as well as a clear-eyed self-critic. It’s a hard balance to achieve.

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