I’ve been doing something lately that stirs up my discomfort in a big way.
I’ve been being a beginner again.
60-second poses of nude figures, for example.
I took figure drawing classes way back in… 1995, I think it was..?
It’s easy to fall down the hole of berating myself, imagining how proficient I’d be now “if only” I’d kept at it for the past twenty-five years!
Beating myself up for all the time I’ve “wasted” not figure drawing for even just ten minutes a day.
But of course it’s ridiculous to go down that path.
First of all, there’s nothing I can do now to reclaim that “lost” time.
And second of all, the time wasn’t wasted.
It’s not like I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs! I was simply focused on other things.
Like learning calligraphy.
And jazz singing.
And the countless other skills I’ve acquired in the past 25 years while I was busy not becoming proficient at figure drawing.
But now I’d like to get better at drawing people, mostly so when I do sketchnotes and graphic facilitation I’m not limited to stick figures that bear no relation to actual humans.
Practicing What I Preach
Here is where I have to put into practice all the principles I talk about all the time.
Like “Think process, not product,” Creative Sandbox Way™ guidepost #2.
Easier said than done, when the ego is involved. And when you’ve made your living as a professional artist, it’s hard to keep the ego from being involved!
There’s always this part of me that feels like somehow I should be better at drawing than I am.
Ridiculous, I know, but there it is.
And THAT — that thought, that feeling — that is a gremlin.
When I can identify my gremlin, it no longer drives the bus.
Now that I’ve identified the feeling, the thought, I can label it — the idea that I should be better than I am; the fear that I’m not as good as I “should” be (who says I should be good anyway? why do I need to be good? all good questions!) — I can give it a name!
I will call this gremlin Griselda.
Now I can have a conversation with her.
I can thank Griselda for her concern (because, after all, she’s just trying to keep me safe!), and I can send her off to get a pedicure.
And then I can get back to drawing.
Where I can allow my inner four-year-old to enjoy the process, and enjoy being out of my head for ten minutes.
This practice is becoming my meditation these days.
I’m even letting myself off the hook for not fitting in both drawing and meditation on the same day.
I was at a virtual conference a week ago where the keynote speaker, a graphic recorder, shared that drawing was his meditation. And it occurred to me that, rather than trying to cram journaling, meditating, and drawing in every day, and feeling badly when I failed, I could let myself off the hook for getting just ONE of these practices in.
I get to design my life. Other people’s lives are different, and they may have strong opinions about what is optimal, or what has to happen in a good day or a good life practice, but that’s merely their opinion.
I get to determine what works for me. Nobody else does.
Right now, I’m experimenting with figure drawing as a meditative practice. Will that be my practice forever? Probably not, but it’s what I’m trying for now.