Meditative Sketch

(This is a recovered post from 2013 ~S)
I sat down to do a sketch in my favorite spot, the back porch. I noticed that the trees were beginning to yellow and lose some leaves. The late afternoon sunlight shown directly into the woody patch in front of my chair. Great place and view for some meditative sketching. I will walk you through the steps below:

(I didn’t take pics each step, because part of the benefit of this exercise is a detached focus on what you are doing.)

It is perfectly okay to use pencils or whatever your preferred sketching tools for this exercise. If you choose pencils, choose several of varying hardness…the harder the pencil graphite, the lighter the line. (You can get pretty cheap drawing pencil sets anywhere office or art supplies are sold.)

Since I prefer pen, that is what I used.

The main thing is that you set yourself down to REALLY put in the time/focus to work on this picture. Allow AT LEAST AN HOUR for this exercise.

  1. Choose something to draw that is complex enough to challenge you, but not so intricate that you’ll be baffled getting all its parts arranged.” (Hinchman, p. 40)  So, though the scene in front of me is complicated, I decided to concentrate on how to show the “holes” in the leaves where I can glimpse the trunks of the trees.
  2. Start with a quick position map.” (Hinchman, p. 40) I started with the three-pronged tree in the foreground. I just drew three quick lines about where the trunks go. Then I swooshed a line where the low, stackstone property line border goes, then did more swishes for the trunks on the other side of the fence. Then I went back and drew in the bases of the trunks. I just made little “cloud” like things for the leafy areas.
  3. Pick an area to work on until you get the grey/black areas JUST RIGHT. Since I was going to focus on how to show the trunk through the trees, I decided to draw in the trunks and crosshatch around them with my pen to show the shadowy leaves in the background. I kind of liked the effect. I experimented with lines and effects all over the drawing.
  4. While you are drawing, ask yourself some questions about your day, your life, what you want to remember, etc. “How can I describe the atmosphere, character, or trend of the day, from it’s beginning? The past week? My overall life at this juncture?” (Hinchman, p. 41) Whenever you hit on a key image or idea, stop your drawing and write it down. Your questions should be inner (what you are thinking) and outer (what you are experiencing). Knowing I was going to be sharing this pic, I didn’t ask too many inner questions, so I just jotted down some things about the day I wanted to remember. These are at the top of the image. If you remember that you need to get milk, write that down too. You want the details of what is on your mind. So “Life is good” is too general… what about it is good? It’s all about the details in both the drawing and the writing.
  5. Reflective Passage. Think about what you have written, then write a paragraph reflecting on the ideas that came to you. What is the connection? What are the details of your mood or thoughts today?  I noticed that my notes were all about the nature I’d seen that day. I loved it! Then recalled that the day started off badly when I discovered my wedding rings had slipped off my fingers. It is pretty early in the year to be that chilly here and I had already noted the nice temps on my drawing…cooling weather is a big deal in my part of Texas! So while I thought about the day and what my notes focused on, I wrote the paragraph you see below the image. It is not grammatically correct, or even all complete sentences. But it captures my mood of the day. If you get stuck, take up the drawing again and let your mind wander back over those questions again.

WARNING: Do not let this become a list of complaints or criticism. Ask yourself the questions suggested above and answer them. Sometimes the answers may be negative, but don’t dwell on them. Just answer matter-of-factly.

Click the image below for a full-sized scan of my entry. I used my trusty Pilot G-2 ball point pen in my journal for the drawing. After the exercise, I went back and colored with my Derwent water color pencils. (Very nice pencils that I don’t use enough.) The little design in the corner above the paragraph looks like the afterthought it is… my lawn furniture was blocking part of my view, but I wasn’t ready to quit drawing so I added it in with the colored pencils.

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