Friday, July 10, 2015

More About Why We Should Draw More

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Here's a terrific article that's related to the video I posted a day or so ago. (Click Here for the video) Very much worth the read. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article. I'm certain some of these will find their way into my sketchbooks and art journals....

“It’s only when we look with eyes of love that we see as the painter sees,” Henry Miller wrote in his forgotten 1968 gem To Paint Is to Love Again

What the sketcher sees

...where a common eye sees only a white cloud, the artist observes the exquisite gradations of light and shade, the loveliness of the mingled colours — red, purple, grey, golden, and white; the graceful roundings of form, the shadowy softness of the melted outline, the brightness without lustre, the transparency without faintness, and the beautiful mildness of the deep heaven that looks out among the snowy cloud with its soft blue eyes; — in fact, the enjoyment of the sketcher from the contemplation of nature is a thing which to another is almost incomprehensible.   ~ John  Ruskin 1819-1900

To draw today is to reclaim the dignity and private joy of seeing amid a culture obsessed with looking in public. ~ Maria Popova

Even though Ruskin wrote in the 19th century, the quote above is so intensely important right now in the age of Facebook, Instagram, and even this blog.  

Privacy is a thing of the past. Our private lives, preferences, choices, beliefs, buying habits, food choices, likes and dislikes are harvested by corporations like Google, Facebook, your cell phone company and pretty much every place you visit or shop on line. While I do love a great conspiracy theory, this isn't one, it's just a fact of life in the digital age.

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More curious however, is that we tend to give up our privacy in favor of sharing. Everything. Sometimes way too much. I just taught a class this morning. Many of the participants were brand new to sketching and had the usual uncertainty ( and howling inner critic monkey chattering away in their brains) and they were feeling that what they produced was not very "good".  It takes wisdom born of trusting the process and just making art to begin to see the vivacious beauty of the marks and splashes you make in your sketchbook. It takes wisdom and time to begin to value the unique things that you make. It takes wisdom, time, and  courage to accept what you do on its own terms without imposing someone else's standard on your creation.

So I encourage sketchers to either share their sketches with no one or only with someone they think will offer positive support. This is after all, personal art. Art for joy, personal enrichment and growth. Plus, no one needs nay-sayers hanging over their shoulder, spilling negative energy into their little corner of the universe. This by the way includes your own inner critic. Shush her and let you inner creative self breathe and play. 

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To share or not to share?  

The massive corporate spewing of our private lives and work has had some very negative effects.  When you put your stuff out there you run the risk of negative, jealous, bitter, petty, insensitive, comments about what you are doing. Cutting you down,  undermining any confidence you're starting to build in trusting your own inner creative flow. We are also our own worst enemies, in that we are generally conditioned to automatically compare our work to someone else's.  So what's the remedy?  After several years of uncontrolled sharing people have generally had enough and there are now many closed groups on Facebook, and even blogs that you need to join to view content. I like these. Not because I'm elitist but because I like a safe, supportive place to share my work. That's my recommendation, only share in an environment where you know your work will be honored for what it is: a creative expression from the heart. We're all on a journey through life. Creative self-expression is something that can make life a whole lot sweeter. The doing, the process, the making. It's all wonderful stuff.  Find others who know that too, and you'll grow in your art making by leaps and bounds. 

If you're looking for a safe closed sketching group on Facebook I recommend Artist's Journal Workshop  You have to click the little button that says "join" and a moderator will then enter you into the group as a member. Please read the group description in the right hand column and the Group Guidelines which are the first post you'll see. The group is very large, almost 20,000 members but incredibly congenial, supportive and creative.  You'll be inspired and learn so much, and have a safe haven to post your sketches. I hope to see some of you there! 


  1. This is a very interesting post Jan. I love your beautiful art journal I can see why you find it such an enriching thing to do.

  2. "To draw today is to reclaim the dignity and private joy of seeing amid a culture obsessed with looking in public."

    I love this quote (and have it written in my journal!), but it isn't from Ruskin. It's from Maria Popova, the author of the article on brainpickings.


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