Last summer I had the great fortune to be in the Canadian Rockies. I spent a day at the edge of beautiful Lake Beauvert enjoying warm sunshine, crystal clear water enfolded by deep green trees, capped with magnificent mountain peaks. After doing an oil painting of the grand scene before me, I put my painting supplies away and brought out my chair to sit and do a drawing of the trees in front of me that grew along the lake shore. Pure bliss!
Drawing is well known to be calming. In”The Zen of Seeing:Seeing/Drawing as Meditation,” Frederick Franck describes how an artist’s keen observation is transformational. The awakened perspective is both meditative and instructive. It not only leads to peace, but better drawings.
Drawing repetitive lines with a pen or shading with graphite or charcoal is soothing. Once I’ve established the main design and begin filling in areas with vertical lines, I always relax. My students often comment about how much they enjoy shading. The repetitive nature of moving the hand back and forth is a calming motion. I suspect that’s one of the reasons adult coloring books are in vogue. Many have found mindless coloring to be a tranquil retreat after a stressful day. It wouldn’t be my choice, but if it works for you, go for it.
To make your drawing sessions more zen-like, first drop critical or negative thinking, let go of anxiety, fear and time constraints. Find a quiet place to really look at and think about your subject. Open your thought to the possibilities. Breathe. Observe. Draw.