Drawing to Meet Your Creative Self

Many of us wish, even long, to lead more creative, expressive lives but feel blocked at times due to the strains of our busy lives or a sense of uncertainty. Curiously, the simple act of drawing, something we all did with abandon as young children, can open us up to our fully creative selves again. Many of us say we can’t draw but the truth is everyone can. Drawing is just making marks on paper but we can also grow skills too, with practice. If we explore with an open mind and lightness in our hearts, we’ll come to know ourselves better and get free of the constraints that hold us back from real happiness. Drawing can be a yogic practice—something we do on a regular basis to come fully into the present moment while forgetting our everyday concerns. It’s worth doing for this alone but we can gain more benefits. So often, what holds us back in our creative endeavors is our own sense of judgement. We might say things like—”This is too hard,” or “I’m not good enough.” Or we might give too much weight to the opinions of others. But we all have what it takes to explore our chosen means of expression. We’ll need dedication to learn and grow skills, of course, and courage to go where we haven’t gone before. When we draw we automatically leave the linear-thinking, verbal, judging left brain and enter the meditative, imaginative, spatial right brain. We get a chance to observe our thoughts and to let the ones that don’t serve us go. In this space we’ll get inspiration for other endeavors, and even our lives. Drawing can also teach us how to play and lead us into the place of free exploration. Here are some ways to begin a drawing practice that will help you meet your creative self, grow confidence and ignite the free flow of creative expression in whatever form you choose. You can begin with any paper and pencil you have on hand or you can buy a large pad of drawing paper, stick charcoal, an ebony drawing pencil and eraser. Later you can experiment with colored pencils, crayons, pastels, even brush and ink. Find a table to work on and put on some music you love, preferably something upbeat. Music helps take us out of our usual thought patterns and connects us with creative energy. Begin by making marks—just scribbling and exploring all the different kinds of marks you can  make—lines, squiggles, dots. Find ways to make patterns too. Delight in what you do! Next set up a simple still life—an apple and banana, a tea cup and flower. Draw the outlines, or contours, of the objects keeping your eyes mostly on what you’re drawing and just glancing at the paper. Now try a blind contour drawing of the same objects—don’t look at the paper at all! Coordinate your hand with the movement of your eyes.  When we don’t look at our paper at all, we train our eyes to really see what’s there! Find a photograph of a face. Turn the image upside-down and draw it upside down paying close attention to the spaces between lines. When we aren’t thinking about what we’re drawing, the results are often more accurate. Draw a whole figure from a photo or have a friend pose for you; clothed is fine! Draw quickly and keep your hand moving the whole time. Keep your eyes mostly on your model and don’t worry if there are lots of lines on the page. Capture the form rather than details. Draw from your head—a shoe, a person’s head, a horse. See how well you remember what things look like.  Then draw again using a reference.  Feel free to change what you see! Draw the same object—apple, guitar, chair—multiple times using different drawing implements—pencil, charcoal, brush and watercolor, crayon, marker. See how the materials offer expressive possibilities. Tape several large pieces of paper together on a wall and fill it with doodles and lines. Be as wild as a child!  Remember that feeling of creative freedom and joy.  It is who you are. ©Cat Bennett2010 [For Yoga Magazine UK]

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