Tonight at the Hipbone life drawing open studio I was constantly second guessing my abilities as an artist. The drawings weren’t going well and I didn’t feel like I could get anything right. But, I stuck to my guns and kept working the problems till I got them right because almost isn’t good enough.

During a drawing or painting session the outcome of every stroke has two possibilities, right or wrong. Also during any session we can make tons of these marks, and for each one we ask a series of questions.

  • Is it in the right place?
  • Is it the right size?
  • Is the value correct?
  • Is the color correct?

The list can go on, and on, but all is determined in less than a second. So when the marks, how many pass inspection? How many are close enough? How many fail? And the all important question…

How many times in the course of a work do we settle for “almost”?

Almost Isn’t Good Enough

The first step is recognizing what IS “right” and “wrong”. Every artist will have a different determination for right or wrong, but before we can pass judgement on any stroke we must recognize its validity first. Even an abstract expressionists has opinions about the marks he or she makes no matter how nebulous the reasoning is.

The second, and most crucial step, is to not settle for “almost” or “close enough”. We will never learn if we always settle for half measures. Make the mark, recognize that it’s wrong, erase it, then try again. Hit the problem head-on and don’t ignore it. Yes it’s going to take a lot longer to finish a drawing, maybe only a few strokes are finished within the 30 minutes. But a simple sketch masterfully done is much better than a whole work full of issues and repeated bad habits.

This is what I was trying to do today. Recognize what is wrong and not letting it sit there, but correcting it right away. It’s extremely difficult, especially when I want to make a good drawing but I have to come face to face with my limitations in skill and speed. But even within a short 3 hour session I feel like I accomplished a lot. Did I finish any good drawings? No. But I sure as heck got a lot of things right and didn’t ignore my mistakes or cover them up.

Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: warmup page
Warmup page


Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: 1.5 minute gestures
1.5 minute gestures

These gestures are terrible. I need to practice more.

Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: 5 minute gestures
5 minute gestures

Five minutes is not a long time for me, I can’t do anything but rush.

Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: 15 minute poses
15 minute poses


Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: 30 minute pose
30 minute pose


Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: 30 minute pose
30 minute pose


Almost Isn't Good Enough in Figure Drawing: 30 minute pose
30 minute pose


  • Session: 1006
  • Work: 845
  • Width: 18"
  • Height: 24"
  • Medium: Charcoal
  • Location: Hipbone Open Studio
  • Art Time: 3
  • Creative Time:



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Chris Beaven

I am an Artist and a programmer currently living in the amazing state of Washington. I have a passion for art, but I'm stubborn as hell with it. My day is complete only when I do some piece of art each day, no matter how small. "There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile."