Drawing for Better or Worse

drawing practice process sketch

What does it mean to draw for better or worse? There are days where the magic flows and the minute you pick up your pencil, drawings erupt onto the page without a thought. You could draw for hours. You are in a flow state and nothing, not even the lights going out or a small temblor could get you to stop drawing. You need to draw. Your sketchbook goes with you everywhere and on the bus you take it out to sketch the shape of the woman’s eye who is sitting across from you. The slant, the angle, the curve of the eyelid. But then there are other days when you wake up and you just don't feel like doing much of anything, right? You just don’t want to draw. Or go to the the studio and start working. Your mind starts spinning and saying “What does it matter anyway, everything I draw is horrible” or “why am I even wasting my time doing this, I don’t even like to draw that much.” It is on these days that your drawing practice is essential. If you are an athlete there are many days you may not feel like you want to practice or take take part in your sport. But you have no choice. The same is true for drawing. You have to think about doing it for “better or worse.”  You might not feel like it. You might not feel like you have the right materials. You might not feel like you have the right energy, you might not feel like you're not in the right headspace. And you just might feel like you're just not right. It's just not right. If you wait for the perfect moment, like that, right, perfect moment, then you will  never draw. And drawing is really a practice. Just like anything else, just like if you're a musician and you practice and you do your scales, drawing, is the same thing it takes practice and cultivation.

We have a certain part of our brain that is deeply visual and through drawing we connect to a core, human aspect of ourselves. Drawing is an essential human form of communication and development. We go through certain drawing stages as humans. Rhoda Kellogg in her groundbreaking book, “Analyzing Children’s Art” studied young children from all over the world and found that humans go through mark making and shape creation stages. From “scribbles” to “mandalas” to “suns” and so on, no matter where we are born our mark making stages are consistent. We are hard wired to make marks on a surface and as we grow our capacities to make marks when nurtured will grow with us. I want to encourage everyone to pick up a mark making tool and draw for “better or for worse.” Connect to your one of a kind Drawing Mind. There are days that I wake up and I don't really know if I want to draw, I don't want to do my daily drawing practice. I sit in the studio and open my sketchbook and start with a blind contour of my hand or something I see out the window. My brain lights up, wakes up and begins to see what is in front of me by following the tip of my pencil.

You get into that flow state. Just like with meditation, when there are days when you just don't want to meditate or you don't want to do yoga or you don't want to work out. And then once you start to do it, you start to let your pencil go you find your path, your mark, your flow.

Drawing is with us for Better or Worse. It is everywhere: when you open up a box from IKEA and you need to put together your new bookshelf, the directions are drawn out for you. When you need to make a play on the basketball court the coach draws out the play. In every arena, in every workplace, in every school we can find examples of different kinds of drawings. It is because of the ubiquitous nature of drawings and yet the pervasive fear of drawing that I do the work that I do. I believe that teaching people to feel confident and to connect to their innate ability to draw then they can use this language in their life, work or family environments. And to do this you need to practice a little bit of drawing as often as you can. For better or worse. Whether you feel like it or not pick up a pencil and see what happens. See what emerges on the page. And just practice. Practice making bad drawings. practice sketching, practice your mark making, practice with different materials. Just doodle and draw and explore your one of a kind drawing mind. 


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