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Friday, July 6, 2012

Drawing as Meditation - and a Drawing Challenge

Charcoal on paper

Recently I posted about finding ways to keep the creative flame burning brightly when the pursuit of commercial work has your art feeling more like a job than a calling.

Drawing is one of my favourite ways to lose myself in the creative process. Because my drawing is not geared toward creating 'saleable product' (as I don't set out to sell my drawings), I find being engaged in drawing, whether it is for a few moments or a few hours - to be a compelling pursuit that leads me into a very present moment, meditative state. Whether working from a photograph (above) or attending a life drawing session (below) - there is something about the experience of drawing that is entirely different than painting.

Slowing Things Down

Drawing moves more slowly, there is no paint handing or colour to think about, and erasing and correcting is a simple process. I also find the fact that a lot of the page gets left uncovered really centers my attention on the contours of the form I am working with, and how the angles and shapes relate to each other. It becomes a game of one shape or angle leading to the next, with attention on checking the accuracy of each mark as it is made, and at the same time noticing how each line put down relates to the whole.

Graphite on paper
17 x 14"

The Challenge

Of course the added bonus is that developing sound drawing skills will propel your painting forward. On that note, I challenged a group of students I taught this weekend to commit to drawing a minimum of 15 minutes a day for the month of July. I offered to join them in the challenge, and to facilitate a conference call mid-July, and one more at the end of the month - to share our experience around the challenge, support each other in staying with it, and celebrate what we learned by doing it.

If you would like to join us in the challenge, please email me and I will send you the conference call # and the date and time of the first call. You can jump on the program today and still get 11 days in before our mid-month call!

I encourage you to do some of the sessions from life (your cat, your kid, your foot) as this poses its own particular set of challenges. In addition, here are a couple of online resources for 2 dimensional reference that have a wide selection of images and provide an opportunity to do timed drawings (for example a rotating selection of 30 second poses):

Artsy Poses has great photos of models with fabulous lighting.
Pose Maniacs was suggested by one of my students and has anatomical drawings to work from.

Would love to have you join us! Your art will thank you for it. :-)

Upcoming Workshop

On another note: I am teaching a 3 day plein air workshop in Kimberley, BC August 8-10th, and there are two spaces still available. For details please click here.


  1. As we move slower thru the world the experience changes markedly. Driving, biking, running, walking... with each reduction in speed things become more meditative. The business of moving becomes less demanding and the mind can detach with each slowdown. I've always though of drawing as the slowest way to travel...

  2. Beautiful drawings, and wonderful thoughts on slowing it down. Just back from a week of walking and drawing on Monhegan Island, ME, with the goal of doing the same each day back home. So far, so good.

  3. Beautiful selection of words to express your interests

  4. Your drawing of Mary is so expressive, very beautiful work! You're a terrific artist, Liz!