Many of us know what mindfulness is, but what is mindfully drawing? How can a beginner start with mindfully drawing? In ‘The Zen of Seeing, seeing/drawing as meditation’, Frederick Franck describes drawing as ‘The Way of Seeing’, as a way of meditation, a way of getting into intimate touch with the visible world around us, and through it…with ourselves’. That is how I view mindfully drawing too. But there is more.
In ‘The Zen of Seeing’, Franck is not concerned about the end product. I am, but I don’t feel this concern is impeding my drawing meditation. I carefully prepare my drawing session by laying out all the tools. I think long about what I want, and I pay attention to the composition. I also do research, because I like to know what I am drawing. When I draw a bird, I study that bird in real as well as with the helps of books. When I draw a flower, I have it seen in nature or it is right before me on my table. I read about the flower, and I like to study and know its Latin name. The same counts for bugs: I do not draw any bug I haven’t seen or studied. I need a connection of seeing and knowing my object. Only then I can picture my object in a habitat, a scene, and give it a proper background and let my drawing tell a (short) story that is accurate.
Mindfully drawing is an active meditation. It keeps my hands busy but it brings a calm mind. That is because when I draw, I open my eye and my inward eye. My eyes study the objects and my emerging drawing. I am never hurried. Ask me anything during my blissful moments of mindfully drawing and you will get a peaceful and kind answer. My inward eye slowly opens when I am drawing mindfully. I observe the feelings that pass by like clouds and try not to get hooked on those clouds but let them pass by. I observe thoughts that try to occupy my mind and try to detach myself from them. I take some deep breaths and feel where there is any stress in my body. Often by just noticing stiff shoulders or by taking a few deep breaths, stress releases.
Then, after a while, when the meditation deepens, I notice I get flash-backs of dreams. Sometimes wholesome and caring thoughts come to my mind, comparable to a wizened granny telling me not to worry and to practise trust. Sometimes mindfully drawing feels like a prayer when feelings of gratitude arises. It makes me happy. Not overly joyfully or crazy, playfully happy, just calm and content, even when the actual drawing doesn’t turn out to be what I previously had in mind. Mindfully drawing to me is calmly drawing and becoming focused and happy.