Once again I find I can’t stop drawing, it feels like such an odd thing to do for me so it is great to “meet” others with the same affliction via Gregory Danny’s interviews. I feel less strange then. Why can’t I just read a novel? Anyway here I am with all my media out, always simple, these days with a few watercolor and other pencils, pans (thoroughly researched and chosen using Handprint back in ~2001), two bottles of ink (brown and black), only two nibs / dip pens which I am having enormous fun with (one is super fragile and one is a goat- it can digest cans).
Odd to only just begin to realize this: years ago, reading Tolstoy’s What is Art? I recall his saying you know doing art is painful, difficult, you don’t get it right and suffer, etc. I am sure he said more I have forgotten. That part stayed with me realizing how true it is. The point is, IT IS ONLY TRUE IN SOME MOMENTS – that I kind of forgot. When my art professor said he felt I could have an art career I said no thanks, I felt my best art came when I was depressed and why would I want to cultivate that. Those years, I was working difficult concepts into art (death, materialism, hierarchy, etc.). Since then, I realized I can just do art that people simply smile at, and why not? Life has enough difficult stuff in it, I don’t have to add more. Now my work in mindfulness over the past 9 years brings me to working with drawing whatever is in this moment (the vacuum, the chair, people, pets; it doesn’t matter, it is just about the experience of that moment in that moment.)
I had a surprise seven months ago. I was drawing a group of flowers on break at work. Someone just peacefully watched me, not my art, standing in front she was watching my expression. Then, thoughtfully she put, “you look so happy”. I thought: no. wait, really? She was right! I have since noticed a soft smile on my face while drawing. So sometimes (of course likely most times I guess) I must be quite good there. I hadn’t noticed.
We all bring habits into our lives that generate happiness in a simple non-harming way, bring the energy into the spaces and places and people around us. The energy, it mingles.
Our sketching just where ever, however may have the capacity to bring this. The more years you draw, the more confident you get and you just don’t care so much if someone judges your work peering over your shoulder. If the result is a mess well you know its not the final word.
I feel the need to examine something further and I know if I draw it I will see things I never would see otherwise. If knowing is loving, if drawing is knowing…ah yes then drawing is loving! LOL
I am actually going to miss winter since that is the time you stay out of the superficial. The beautiful bright shining reflections and waving shadows of leaves, the heat on your neck and feet, it is all so good, even though somehow it takes you out and fills you with a distracted view of the world. The tree limbs are no longer available for drawing; what will I do to draw all those crazy leaves this year…for fun.
Our happiness with it may be related to our being more fully in the moment in some way. Drawing is not exactly mindfulness meditating, it can be very close. We can bring mindfulness practice there when we focus entirely say on the shape color scale of a vase, rather than our mind resting deep in a day dream fantasy or deep in a worry about the past or a should about the future. We are in the moment of that vase, of our experience of that vase.
Biggest thanks to my mom for always telling me it was a gift I should treasure. I love you mom!
Lastly, Gregory Danny thank you thank you for putting the habit on a nice platform. After reading your work, I set aside my spiral bounds, picked up a bound journal and it felt like a crazy act of a revolutionary to just draw right over the book gutter! I thought lightening might strike – when it didn’t I had so much joy!
One effect of working in hardbound journals: This is where you must play. There is no feeling of a need to work for money here, like oh maybe I will end up selling this final piece better follow some rules. No it is stuck in this book which will get stuck on a shelf, maybe scanned, but seriously just play it doesn’t matter. That can be fun, sometimes a fail, but the more years you play like this the more you can command a result if you really want it and don’t want to play in another new direction.
A quote from Roz Stendahl in Danny Gregory’s new book (he also has a cool interview with her on his blog) “I draw when I travel for the same reason I draw all the other times I can’t stop myself from drawing—because something catches my eye and grabs my interest. I want to remember it; I want to savor it; I want to understand it just a little bit better; I want to acknowledge what I just saw. At the same time all this is happening, when I’m drawing there is also a physiological change within me when I draw. I am more calm, more alert (hyper alert), and filled with wonder. Drawing activates a direct switch to my sense of wonder. I feel that to draw something or some place is to ask questions about that subject—how is it made, why was it made, what does it stand for, how was it used, or how does it live in these circumstances? (That last is something I ask as I draw pigeons the world over.)..…”