I used to love to draw. I sketched portraits of my favorite band members when I was in high school: the bassist from U2, Jim Morrison, the members of Depeche Mode, Michael Hutchence of INXS, Morrissey and The Cure’s Robert Smith for my BFF. As I transcribe my old journals, I come across small drawings from time to time. I often drew little thumbnails for scenes I had a hard time describing in words, like the moon over the Caribbean when I travelled to Jamaica for a field course in college, or a rainbow over the mountains. The drawings weren’t any better than the words I couldn’t conjure, but they gave me a sketch of the scene enough that my memory could fill in the rest.
My friend Michelle Weber, a writer and editor, recently published on her blog about taking a drawing course, and how some of the drawing exercises she’s doing could be applied to writing. If she wanted. Reading her post reminded me that visual artists (and writers) must be observant, must really look at a thing closely to understand it (or not understand it!) and then render it.
I admire visual artists. Being able to turn something three dimensional into something two dimensional using your vision, mind, imagination, physical tools, liquid media, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills is really hard. At least it is for me. I have a terrible time translating what I see with my eyes into an image on a page.
My friend Zandy draws and paints in ink, and produces a picture on her Tumblr every day for Inktober. Every day I have a new favorite. Today my favorite is this little cutie:
Okay, so maybe only two of my friends are drawing.
Drawing is another way to be present in the moment and pay attention. The other day when I wanted to run my pen out of ink, I drew, but after drawing some bubbles and teardrops (it was a turquoise ink), I ran out of ideas for things to draw. Nothing in my field of vision was that color, so I was stuck with my imagination, which was not helpful. Still, coloring in the bubbles and teardrops occupied my full attention and was strangely soothing and meditative for longer than I would have expected.
I can’t add anything else to my days right now — not as a regular practice — because I don’t know what I’d subtract. But I do have all these pretty ink colors and a little notepad of high quality, unlined paper… Maybe I’ll just doodle a little, every now and then.