Presence in Drawing

Presence isn’t generally a basic concept spoken about in drawing classes, usually we’re talking about composition, shape, value, light and line.  But in light of leading figure drawing classes at a local Carlsbad Yoga Studio, a different side of the practice of drawing has been surfacing for me.  In these classes while drawing the figure we’re exploring ideas of focus, contentment, positivity and the internal critic.  It’s been fun already and I look forward to its development.


The internal critic was the first concept I wanted to take on.  This is the left side of our brain, the logical side, the critic deciding what’s good or poor.  This is the side that keeps people from trying to draw.  If artists got a dime for every time they were told that people couldn’t even draw stick figures, there would never be a starving artist.  But with drawing, being “good” isn’t the point, especially when beginning.  Learning to draw things “well” takes time and practice.  It’s a byproduct of spending time drawing.  Sure, some people are more inclined to it for whatever reasons, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else shouldn’t pursue it as a hobby or even as a career.  The important part is this, time spent drawing is time well spent.  It’s relaxing, it’s intentional, it’s safe, it’s zoned in, and it’s fun.  It’s an act of presence that leaves you with a record of the moment and of the artist’s thoughts and actions.


Drawing is a physical practice similar to yoga.  It’s a moving meditation.  I’ve been enjoying using it as a way to stay present, to stay in the moment.  I got into practicing yoga a few years ago, and then began meditation from that.  As I was learning to meditate I realized I’ve been practicing meditation for years in the forms of drawing and painting.  Similar themes cross over like staying in the now and not letting your monkey mind take over, keep breathing and let your breath help keep you here and now, and of course the importance of relaxation.


Another thing I love about figure drawing is that the process demands a trust and a positive outlook.  Drawings take time to come together and the first third of the time frame (at least) of any art piece doesn’t look good or finished.  It’s the basis for what’s to come.  A positive mindset and trust in the value of the process is what gets us through to the end.  And really, it’s not about the final product, it’s about learning how to look at things and recreate them in 2 dimensions.


This first class was a really nice time and I enjoyed working through these moments with all the artists.  We stopped a few times along the way and everyone shared what they were experiencing in terms of the internal critic, and some of the practical issues they were dealing with.  Everyone was doing a great job of not paying attention to their monkey mind and letting it wait till after class.  It seemed like everyone had a really nice time and the drawings that people were creating looked great.  I walked away feeling very happy with things and very much looking forward to upcoming classes.