Drawing matters for a number of reasons.
Last week I had a note from a past student who had recently lost her mother. The student had stopped drawing for months. Grief disrupts life in a thousand ways.
When I was writing to her I was thinking about my own maternal loss this year, the death of Phyllis, and how I have been and have not been coping with it—grief is complicated.
My grief intensified my drawing practice. My sketching habit is well established and it’s part of how I process, so in cases of loss, I tend to draw more. But that doesn’t help if someone has shut down, so I thought about what is important about drawing.
Grief requires a response. That response can be healthy or unhealthy. We have to check ourselves and make sure that any response keeps us in the world instead of taking us out of it.
And I wrote this to my student:
Sketching helps to train us to improvise; to take what is before us and what we have with us and respond to it [what is before us] in the present moment. And that practice is something that we can then take out into the rest of our lives. I don’t think that makes us better people, but I think it makes us more resilient.
We need to be resilient to get through all that life gives us.
Drawing matters because it can help us with that resiliency.
Do some spontaneous drawing today—whether you are out and about, or simply passing the table and see the fruit bowl!
What you draw isn’t important.
It doesn’t even have to look like anything to anyone. (I’m the only one who knows that first drawing in this post was meant to be a fully rendered gouache painting but I was interrupted. I can still “see” that painting.)
What is important is the act of drawing because of what it gives you: the pause, the breath, the noticing. It will bring you back to the present moment. And that is important.