meditation drawing

Nothing Is Something

This morning, during the course of making the daily drawing, I found myself reflecting on the direction the drawings have taken of late. I’ve been feeling that I’d been slowly moving into a kind of robot mode, which is the point at which the purpose of a daily practice needs a reset….a pause for reflection. There is a danger of letting the whole routine of it become an end in itself and then, well, you find yourself in a rut. I wasn’t there exactly, but something was telling me to bring my attention back to the mindfulness of the process.

One of the positive aspects of a simple drawing practice like this is that you can step outside yourself in a way, because you are not working at making art, but allowing the drawing to unfold. I have noticed over the past couple weeks that I am now drawn to a kind of spare composition that is somewhat new to my work. The daily drawings have always been rather spare, but this is a different kind of thing. The contrast with a piece shown here from The Notes From the Ancestors series maybe gives you an idea of the direction the work is moving. Most of my previous work was dense, layering and brimming with pattern, image and texture.

Notes From The Ancestors no.2

Notes From The Ancestors no.2

Maybe I’m more actively exploring the notions of emptiness, pushing the boundaries of the space and finding myself drawn more and more to a simple elegance that allows nothing to be something.

Images of the spare elegance of Japanese interiors and the balance reflected in all things wabi sabi, float inside me as these drawings unfold. Often I find that the daily drawings inform my other work and I am curious to see how this will play out....what the new pieces will have to teach me.

 

November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017

Earlier in the week I finished a larger piece (11" x 8 1/2") playing with the twisting lines, in anticipation of a series of such compositions. Went back to adding some embroidery to the drawing as well....I do love sewing on paper! I find is very rewarding when there is a flow of conversation between the daily drawings and the other work that unfolds in the studio.

The Thanksgiving holiday is nearly upon us and Johntimothy and I are looking forward to spending the time with extended family. It means an interruption to the rhythm of the studio and making the daily drawings, but it's good to remember we are not slaves to these routines....they are meant to enhance and expand our lives, not confine us. With that, I give myself a week or so off from the practice and will return refreshed and renewed! 

If you are in the United States....wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and hope you find a host of things to be thankful for in your life. See you soon!

 

Trace Drawings: A Daily Practice

the daily practice with lights out

the daily practice with lights out

Johntimothy has a daily practice that we'll share with you today. As seen in the photo above, he makes "trace drawings" from the reflections of the light passing through glass. In playing with the arrangement of objects and tracing the lines in the reflections, he creates beautiful abstract drawings filled with pattern and wonder! I asked him a few questions about his daily practice so he could share some of the process with our readers.

the daily practice with lights on

the daily practice with lights on

Your daily drawings are the result of the play of light and shadows on glass. How did you come to use this process?

For the longest time, I have been captivated by shadows and reflections. It was early on in my time in Sarasota, now decades ago, that I first traced the reflections from a water glass on a cloth tablecloth at a holiday function. I enjoyed the translation of the image into line. Since that time, I’ve played with these trace drawings off and on. Now, that I am on sabbatical for the semester, I decided to reengage with the idea more in depth as a basis for a daily practice.

daily drawings (detail 1)

daily drawings (detail 1)

daily drawings (detail 2)

daily drawings (detail 2)

What do you enjoy the most about the process of these trace drawings…or what do you find most satisfying?

It’s an image, but not an image. It’s actally an image from the external world, but abstract. Someone looking at these drawings would not know that they are drawings of the reflections of light passing through glass.

There is a meditative quality to drawing them and that was part of what drew me to making them. In one sense, I don’t have to think about it and I can just be in the moment, with the drawing. Partly, I hoped this process would help me find a direction for my work.

When they are all laid out in a line on the floor…it is kind of fun. They are a timeline, a visual timeline. I am fascinated by how they flow together and part of that is because of the repeated lines and marks of the drawn shapes.

laying out the daily drawings....most recent first, moving back in time

laying out the daily drawings....most recent first, moving back in time

Daily drawing timeline

Daily drawing timeline

Do you see these drawings as an end in themselves or do you find yourself visualizing them translated into prints?

No, I don’t see them as being anything more than what they are at this point in time. That would be a forced thing, so I am happy with them just being what they are.

daily drawings (detail 3)

daily drawings (detail 3)

daily drawings (detail 4)

daily drawings (detail 4)

 

Meditation Through Drawing: Notes on the Daily Practice

Daily Drawing August 19, 2017

Daily Drawing August 19, 2017

 

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.

August 20, 2017 daily drawing (sold)

August 20, 2017 daily drawing (sold)

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. 

Daily drawing August 21, 2017

Daily drawing August 21, 2017

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. 

Daily drawing August 22, 2017

Daily drawing August 22, 2017

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.

Daily drawing August 23 2017

Daily drawing August 23 2017

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. 

Daily drawing August 24, 2017

Daily drawing August 24, 2017

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!