Drawing: The Treasure Chest

Just over a year ago I read the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards . It felt to me as though a veil was lifted, a door opened to reveal a chest of endless and beautiful treasures. I have since become a frequent visitor to that room and can't see how I will ever tire from its magic.

Drawing is a COURAGEOUS act because it challenges us – as artists but also in our every day lives.

It exposes our preconceived ideas about people and things. What we think is true, often is not. An example of this would be where we think the eyes sit in a human face. When drawing a face, we tend to put the eyes about one third from the top, but very often that is not true. Have a look in the mirror: Measure the distance from the inside of the eye to the bottom of the chin, keep that measurement and then check the distance from the inside of the eye to the very top of your head (Hair included). Very often the eyes are in the middle of the head...Kimon Nicolaides wrote in his book “The Natural Way to draw” : “Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see and that means a lot more than merely looking with the eye”. He felt that drawing well had nothing to do with technique, aesthetics or anything else. It depended only on one thing: right observation of the world. Jen Miller wrote a great blog on some handy tips that may help you steer your way in this process. Look her up at https://www.jenreviews.com/how-to-draw-better/

In Drawing, the focus is on the PROCESS, the outcome is not the meaty bit. How different is that to our every day lives where everything has to be measured in the RESULT. The process gently forces you to SLOW DOWN and really look at the object in a detached, objective way, as though you are seeing it for the first time in your life without any prior knowledge of it. Along the way you discover beauty and magic in ordinary, everyday objects. Even a humble cheese grater shines with interesting grooves, corners, angles and curves. In a way the process of drawing makes me more CONTENT, more THANKFUL because it reveals beauty where I least expected it.

Drawing is a way of MEDITATION. It takes you to a zone where WORDS and TIME fade away. It is as though you enter into a white space where you can simply “be”. All the chattering monkeys in your head, reminding you of the endless to-do items on the endless lists, disappear. You lose yourself in the details of curves, angles, exquisite spaces, shadowy shapes and light formations.

Why do we lack the confidence to draw? I think we are our own worst enemies – those voices in our heads saying: “It looks nothing like it!” We criticise, we doubt and eventually lose hope and then the desire to draw. I love what Samuel Goldwyn has to say about this : “ Don't pay attention to critics. Don't even ignore them” . We have to be ruthless in protecting that small, unique drawing voice inside of us. It will grow and become bigger and bolder as long as we patiently and diligently nourish it .

Last Christmas my husband gave me the book “Keeping Hope Alive” - a memoir of Dr Hawa Abdi.

She is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who provides gynecological services in a Somali refugee camp she founded herself. I was overwhelmed by this woman's courage, boldness and strength and responded by making a drawing of her, using WORDS that described her and the work of hope she does. In the process of that drawing, I experienced such joy. In a way I felt connected to her – odd because we have never met and most probably never will. But I thought I knew her better after those hours of drawing her – the expression in her eyes, the determination caught in her smile.

Thank you Betty Edwards for showing me the magical room!