I’d like to talk a little bit here about the daily drawing ritual that keeps me grounded and balanced. I call the practice Drawing Meditation, as it shares some similarities with a more traditional sitting meditation that focuses on the breath.
Meditation can take many forms, but often one sits quietly and focuses on the breath, working to detach from the thoughts and distractions that inevitably flood the mind. The idea, as I’ve always understood it, is to let go and not get caught up in the “monkey mind” that keeps us all on edge and off balance.
I do this same thing through drawing. I sit down each morning with a sheet of 6” x 4” blank Japanese paper and a pencil and often a bit of watercolor. With no attempt to make a particular drawing, that is, with no idea what will emerge, the drawing begins. The process is one of letting go, as I let my hand make the marks on the page. There is a kind of remove, as I become the observer, detached….there and not there, fully present but not exerting control….letting go. In this practice, watching your hand move across the page is akin to focusing on the breath.
If you are in a mindful state and not exerting control, there will be a kind of detached wonder at what emerges on the page. Remember, that inner critic has been banned from entering the room, so you are free! Think of it as a kind of dance. You will know from within when you are finished. Since there are no rules, there is no need to fill the page…there may be just a few stray marks, but you will be in tune with your own sense of balance and composition, the weight of line, the sense of space etc. What emerges on the page may not be anything you recognize in the outer world around you. At the end, the drawing you've made may or may not be to your liking...but, the product isn’t the point. I believe that you will have begun to tap into your inner landscape….that place that is your source, where your knowledge and wisdom reside.
My drawing meditation practice may last just five or ten minutes, but there are no rules, so it might take you longer. But the idea is not to labor over it....if you find you are putting effort into thinking about it or about what to do next, you may not be in the flow of it. Like anything, it may take practice, so If you are new to this, it may take some time to be able to relinquish control. You are not making a “drawing”, but the drawing is reflecting you, in a sense. Over the course of time, with such a daily practice, you will begin to see and have a sense of your own mark making and I also believe you will develop a new kind of trust and connection with yourself. Strangely, in the process of letting go, you may feel more in touch.
I’ve carried on with this daily practice on and off for many years now. There are periods when I drop it or the dedication falls by the wayside, not necessarily intentionally, but because life gets a bit crazy. But I am also reminded how important and fundamental it is for me when I return to it. My sense of equilibrium and balance is restored.
I've shared here a week of daily drawings....each one different, each one a reflection of a the few introspective moments when time slows down and the inner landscape reveals itself. The invisible made visible.
I have many of these daily drawings, the result of this meditation practice, available at a reasonable cost in my Etsy shop, Missouri Bend Studio. Countless dozens are available in the shop and hundreds more lay about in stacks in the studio. That may seem contradictory to everything I’ve just said about the process not having to result in a product. Let’s talk about that next time….I have some thoughts to share!
In the meantime, before I post today's daily drawing, just a note to let you know I am planning a newsletter that will go out the first of each month (or thereabouts!). In addition to news and updates, newsletter subscribers will receive a discount on purchases in the shop here at Missouri Bend Studio. I'd love it if you subscribed! You can do that by filling out your name and email address on the form located on the About Us page here on the website. Don't worry, your contact information stays here. I'm still working out the ideas and format for the newsletter, so please let me know if there are things you'd like to see or hear more about. Look forward to hearing from you....enjoy your weekend!