How to practise mindful drawing
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
When you think of mindfulness what do you think of? What’s the first thing that pops into your head?
It might be yoga or meditation; breath work or going on a nature walk. These are all ways of practising mindfulness, but have you ever tried drawing? (And yes, doodling counts!)
Often, anything art related can be a bit daunting for those who don’t practise art in their everyday life. But the great thing about mindful drawing is that it isn’t asking you be “good” at it. It isn’t about creating a framed master piece at the end. All it’s asking is for you to be present in the process and to enjoy the journey. So, let’s begin.
Mindfulness is about finding your calm, your centre. Therefore, it helps if you’re comfortable. Start with some deep breaths to ground yourself. Close your eyes and breathe in for 5 seconds then breathe out for 5, then increase this to 8 seconds.
If any thoughts come into your head (which they will and that’s ok), simply acknowledge them and let them pass by. Headspace have a great metaphor for this: imagine you are sitting looking out on a road, imagine thoughts as cars and instead of stopping them, let them pass by, without approaching them.
Being mindful means letting go of judgement, especially towards yourself. It’s time to let go of any stories you tell yourself about not being creative, because the truth is: you are creative in your own way. The goal of mindful drawing is to be present in the process, rather than focusing on the outcome.
Make space for emotions: how are you feeling in this moment?
Become aware of your environment: what can you hear, smell, feel?
When thoughts and emotions pop up, acknowledge them and then let them go
Be gentle and be proud of yourself for trying something new
Once you feel calm, grab some paper and a pen or pencil and something to lean on
By focusing our attention on the pen we are holding, the marks we are making, we are in the present.
Exercise 1: Circles
Start by drawing circles, these can be different in size and shape but each time you draw a circle you have to close it.
As you start to fill your page with circles, notice how the pen feels between your fingers. Are you gripping it tightly? Try relaxing your hand. What about how it feels or sounds as the pen marks the paper? Try to be aware of every action you’re taking.
Exercise 2: Objects
Find a plant or an object near to you.
Observe its shape and form
Look at the way light hits it, are there shadows?
Notice any marks, lines and texture
Start to draw what you see, let your eyes flit from the object back to your page. Relax your hand, let go of any expectation on the final outcome, and refrain from grabbing a rubber!
These are two simple mindful drawing exercises you can do at any time of day, for as long as you have time for - all you need is something to draw on and something to draw with! I hope they help.
If you’d like to join others in practising mindful drawing, keep an eye out for workshops I have coming up. You can read about my Mindful Plant Drawing workshop with London Makers Market here. I can also come to your place of work and host a workshop for colleagues, clients and friends, pop me an email and let’s chat.