The Wipe Out


When I was in art school, I had a drawing instructor who had this one exercise that I never forgot. He would instruct you to draw a model for 90 minutes in soft charcoal. You would work slavishly, perfecting every curve and shadow. Then when time was up, he’d say “OK, take your chamois cloth and wipe it all out”.

Some students would gasp, others were incredulous. But I’ll lose all my work!

Once the drawings were erased he said, “OK, now you have three minutes to draw the entire thing again.”

Inevitably, the resulting drawings would be amazing. More full of life than the over-worked 90 minute versions. Why? Because we hadn’t really wiped out the drawing. The previous 90 minutes was visually engrained and in our muscle memory.

As entrepreneurs and creative professionals we may start a project, a product, a business that gets wiped out. Clients lost. Customers vanish. But what we have to remember is that the work we put in, the brain power we invested isn’t gone. It is in our muscle memory, ready to be released, full of life. Refined. Essential. The next one will be amazing.

photo: Shalom Jacobovitz