September Book Club - Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh
Thursday, September 16, 2021
This is not a book of drawing techniques. It is, instead, a book about the experience of drawing. Greenhalgh suggests that drawing can help us to observe the world around us more fully, rather than being stuck inside our heads in the maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, worries and dreams that go through our minds every day. The book is peppered with quotes and exercises which encourage us to slow down, take time away from the computer and enjoy the outdoors.
The author believes that anyone can draw. No exceptions. Anyone can do it. So anyone has access to the benefits that drawing can bring. What most often gets in the way is our self-criticism. Children don’t worry about whether their drawing is good enough, whether the colours or perspective are accurate. It's only as we get older than we start to judge ourselves. We would feel better if we allowed ourselves to just draw, without judgement - to simply be a beginner with no expectations. “Come to drawing as if you've never done it before. Come to drawing with a curiosity about the marks you could make and the world you could explore. Come to drawing as a beginner. Being a beginner is the best thing to be, because as be-ginners we can simply be.”
In one chapter Greenhalgh talks about the difference between “seeing” instead of “looking”. She suggests that before starting to draw something, you spend a few minutes really concentrating on it: the shape, the size, the colours, the way the light falls on it. Perhaps even think about what it smells like and how heavy it is. You might leave it somewhere you can pass it daily and look at it in different light levels at different times of day. Then sketch it out, without looking at the paper. Look only at the object. Don’t look at the page until the drawing is finished. There are many such exercises which will pay off both in improved drawing and more peace and presence in your daily life.