If you can hold a pencil and write your name, you can draw, and you should! Drawing is a simple, inexpensive way to begin experimenting with your own creative process that has also been found, in countless studies, to improve mental health, memory, communication skills and problem solving capabilities. Spending even 4 minutes sketching a person, an object or a moment in our daily life strengthens our brain’s ability to recall it later and just fifteen minutes of drawing can soothe difficult emotions such as sadness, nervousness, anger or frustration. Drawing helps us practice mindfulness as it requires we sit in observation, we slow down and we remain focused on the present moment.
Picasso said “Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. How true that is. As adults we have been conditioned to seek results, success, mastery, perfection. We have been taught to try until we get it “right”, to work hard-that “it wouldn’t be work if it were fun”. We have been taught to avoid tasks that cause us to feel vulnerable and choose tasks that allow us to remain armored in whatever role gives us a sense of purpose and belonging in a society obsessed with being the “best”.
Drawing is an incredibly scary undertaking in the face of these very rigid preconceived expectations. We typically associate drawing with realism and assume we are incapable of capturing a likeness. We have convinced ourselves that only those with certain “talent” can draw, but the truth is we are all inherently capable of mark making, which is all drawing really is-making shapes, and lines and dots on paper, and the benefits derived from drawing are found in the process. The moment we release our obsession with the “product” or end result, we discover joy of creating. An exciting perk to releasing our expectation is that when we sit in observation and really look at whatever it is that we are drawing, without getting swept away in our brain’s tendency to “fill in the blanks” we end up with more realistic drawings. The real trick to observational drawing is actually in the observation itself more even than the act of putting pencil to paper.
To begin a mindful drawing practice you just need fifteen minutes, a pencil and paper. Below is a fun exercise to get you started:
1. Notice your breathe, relax into your body and get curious about your thoughts. Be aware of any judgements and release them
2. Put on soft music, make a hot cup of tea or sit in your favorite space, combining drawing with other pleasant sensory experiences can help you stay grounded and present.
3. Choose an object that you would like to draw and place it where you can comfortably see it.
4. Now-you are going to draw that object without ever looking at your pencil and paper and without lifting your pencil from the paper! Yes, you read right-no peeking at your paper!! As your eye moves along the object, your pencil moves with it. Go slow, take deep breaths and really see the object. This is called blind contour drawing and helps teach us the key to observational drawing-observation!
5. If it helps, place your pencil through a paper plate to shield your wandering eye and set a timer for five minutes at first, challenge yourself draw for the entire 5 minutes so you are not tempted to rush.
And HAVE FUN!!!!
Ashleigh is a Professional Artist, with a background in Children’s Programming. She teaches art classes in our community and is a fixture in TriCities art culture. Her passions include her family, friends, and self-discovery!
She has two upcoming drawing classes:
Intro to Drawing for Kids – A 6 week workshop beginning May 6, 2019 at 5 pm Learn more
You CAN Draw & Why You Should for adults on May 18, 2019 from 6-7:30pm. Learn more
You can also book private sessions/parties with her or commission her for a piece of art by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org