"Make meaningful marks" is advice from the college art professor that had the biggest impact on my work in hindsight. The super sad part about it is, I don't remember her name. I took a drawing class in 2010-- my freshman year, first semester at Meredith College (two years before I transferred to N.C. State). Her classes were three and a half hours long, we were not allowed to sit down, and were advised to purchase supportive shoes, no matter how ugly, to wear for the duration of the semester. The only mercy she had was a 30 minute break halfway through the class. In fact, I took two of her classes that semester... the other was Design I: also three and a half hours long. Both were on the same two days every week. At that point, I was burnt the hell out.
Last year when I was home in Virginia, I came across the drawings I compiled over the semester and saw them in a light I hadn't before. I'm sure ones eyes are dulled by freshman year grog and hangover goggles from newfound freedom and too much homework. Also, before I left Wyoming to come home for a visit, I revisited my drawing textbook that somehow made it out there with me in the last few years. I read a bit and remembered some lessons and reflected on how those, so many years later, became so inherent in my work, and subconsciously so. Making meaningful marks now means to me that although they may not be individually intentional, keep moving and allow them to come together, and then they would become relevant.
I remember a time where I would get absorbed in small corners or accidentally make lines too dark because I was trying to force them. Big mistake! I have that professor to thank for freeing me from those micromanaged lines. All of those stupid still-lifes... foreshortened cylinders, teapots, sheet-covered chairs... My compositions were interesting but the content bored me to death. So many hours! It is what it is. Once I got bored with it, I quit caring about forcing the content on my paper and let go, they came together. Three hour classes, those dull eyes-- they were actually much sharper eyes, and they haven't dulled since. I surprise myself every time I finish a piece now, all of my marks are meaningful, and I don't worry about mis-marks. They somehow make their way in or out of the finished piece. It's all about letting yourself enjoy the process.