Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In My Right Brain

The closest I get to a quiet mind is when I do blind contour drawings. This is something I learned quite a few years ago when I attended a drawing class based on Betty Edward's book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It was pivotal for me as an artist and has the beneficial side effect of disengaging the verbal left side by presenting the brain with an exercise that the right just takes over and dances through while the left brain relinquishes control and waits. Not always patiently, but it waits. And with practice you can train it to wait quietly and patiently with the added benefit of not only becoming a better artist but also increasing your powers of observation related to pretty much every aspect of your life. You don't have to be an artist to do this, and you will still benefit from it. 

Here's how:
Get a piece of paper or sketch pad. I like to use a big one so that I can scale the drawing to what I'm seeing. If that page looks too big and empty it is ok to draw yourself a square or rectangle that doesn't make you nervous. Use a soft, sharp pencil like a 2b 3b or 4b or one of those fine point pilot pens that glide along the page. If you don't have those, use whatever is available, but NO ERASER. You'll see why in a minute. 

Set something out to draw. That can be just about anything-it's great to just do drawings of opportunity. Place a flower in a simple vase or get a coffee cup or whatever interests you. Get comfy where you can easily see your subject and access your paper. Find a spot you want to start and place your pencil on the paper. You are going to follow the contours of the object with your eye and match what you see with your pencil. You are going to look only at the subject. Never at the drawing. Imagine that your eye is an ant crawling along the surfaces of your object, and you are following it with your pencil. If possible, try to do this in a quiet space. Someone talking or even a TV in the background will bring your left brain to attention. The point here is to engage the right brain fully. You will lose track of time and finish with a marked sense of well-being. 

At first, it's really hard not to cheat. You will want to sneak a peek. You will giggle. Go right back to not looking, unless you have traveled around that object for a while and are completely lost. Find your place and resume.

The more you do this, the more you will see. Follow whatever you see. You can set an order of things or travel randomly, it doesn't matter. Your drawings will look funny. Some of them will look really funny. Even your left brain can't judge that too harshly because, after all, you weren't even looking while you drew it. 

If you do this regularly, you will notice more about whatever is in your environment. An object will never be quite the same to you when you have observed it so closely, and that extends to objects that you come across and imagine drawing. This can keep you entertained in long check-out lines. As you develop your practice, try drawing your family when they are still or sleeping. Draw people in public. You will notice more about their demeanor, be more in tune with body language and facial expressions. Your drawings will be in better proportion, and will have a style that is just naturally you. Your essence will be present on the page, beautifully unfiltered by your own judgement. Your right brain knows how to do this, it just needs the opportunity. 

Seems I'm not the only one, and it looks like art as meditation is gaining attention and popularity. Have you noticed all the cool adult coloring books coming out recently? There is a great trend in giving yourself permission to just play. Don't think of it as wasting time-it may be one of the most important things you do for yourself. A recent article in the Washington Post explores this trend and some of the benefits of practice here.

And here's a great opportunity  
if you want to explore in paint! 
Barbara Ferrier, an artist whom 
I recently met at Camp GLP and online, 
has just launched her  
Mindful Painting Class 
that you can enjoy for free! Check it out.  
Wishing you a quiet mind, a little every day.

To see my artwork and creative business,  

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