When I'm drawing, I can find myself making the wrong line over and over sometimes. This usually happens when I spend more time looking at my paper, then at my reference photo or model. Looking at your paper while you’re drawing is logical. After all, we need to make sure everything is where it should be, right?
But your paper doesn’t show you what you should be doing. Your reference photo or model does. This was brought into sharp focus for me when I drew from a live model in a free class last week. I struggled with her left cheek. I would look at the model for a second and then try to recreate what I saw. I’d be unhappy with it, erase it and try again. I must have done this three or four times at least.
Then I decided I was going to look at the model as I was drawing. What do you know, it turned out right this time. There have been times I’ve had my eyes fixed on a model while my pencil is on the paper and I just quickly glance at my paper to make sure I’m in the right place, which is the complete opposite of what I described before, which is just glancing at the model and then keeping my eyes on the paper.
This is especially beneficial when you're working on small details. I only recommend doing it for a few minutes at a time, though, as staring at fine detail can hurt your eyes. At least, it hurts mine.
Painter of portraits and wildlife