As I prepare for teaching my August five-day art workshop in North Carolina at Kanuga*, I am spending time in the dance of drawing, revisiting the joy and terror of drawing.

 

 

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Drawing is a dance that unites the essence of what is being drawn with the eyes, heart and hand of the person drawing. That dance takes place when a person sees, truly sees.

 

 

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As the Little Price said,
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

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How hard it is sometimes to remember that drawing is a joy. We had that joy as children and for some reason most of us forgot, were intimidated or felt wrong because we couldn’t recreate a photographic copy of something.

 

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We put down our drawing pencils and let our hands only march across the page in straight lines of letters. And for most of us, sometimes me included, the thought of drawing is akin to the nightmare terror of standing up in front of a group of people naked.

 

 

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There is a naked quality to drawing. Marks are left on the page that reveal. Reveal what though? Making marks with pencil, paints, crayons, inks or whatever art material reveals a connection between what is seen and how we respond. If we take the time to truly see, then that connection is a dance. That dance is the process and purpose of taking time to draw. Like learning a new dance, it probably feels awkward at first.

 

 

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But it doesn’t take long before moments and movements become a dance. The marks made on paper as a drawing are secondary. It is never meant to be a perfect recreation, it is meant to be a memory of the dance.

 

 

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Joining heart with hands as our eyes glide across the surfaces and edges of whatever is being drawn opens up a way of seeing that we seldom allow ourselves to experience. To truly see is a full body wonder. It takes time. It is a friendship, an opening up of both the person seeing and what they see.

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small.
We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.”
Georgia O’Keefe

 

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Once that opening occurs, we see into the other. In that seeing we find a depth of knowing creation as divine. We become one with the other and the dance with divinity goes on. In that dance we find the essence of Creator in creation.

 

 

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I have been spending time drawing with the beauty of nature’s simple creations, leaves. I found a beautiful orange leaf last fall. The grace and gesture of the curved center stem and curling edges helped me fall in love with its quiet essence. I still have the dried leaf, now months later. Although drier and crisp, it carries its fragile grace still.
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A fifteen-year old house plant that lives inside in the cold and outside on the summer deck has quiet leaves with curving stems and ruffled edges. I feel like I am dancing with a swirling skirt when I take the time to see and know these leaves.

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To be honest, drawing with any of the mark makers (pencil, pen, ink, brush, colors) is that combination of joy and terror. Looking at the blank page and what I am about to draw feels like standing on the edge of a cliff, and I have to jump.

 

“And you ask ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
Erin Hanson

Starting is the jump, but doing the dance is also learning to fly.

ENJOY & CREATE

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*Note on Kanuga’s F.A.C.E. (Faith, Art and Creative Expression) Conference August 19 -24, 2018.  This conference has multiple classes that all honor and embed the sacred into arts and crafts.

I am so honored and excited to again be teaching a workshop at the 1,400 acre Episcopal retreat center near Asheville, North Carolina. It is titled “Learning to See Creator in Creation – Easy Drawing, Sketching, Watercolor Painting”. We will be creating journal/prayer books with drawings and poem/prayer. 

My workshop is a five day course with morning classes and afternoon open studio.  Kelly Larson will be joining me to teach in this “thin” holy place in the woods. Here are links to my blogs about the 2015 and 2016 classes I taught with Kelly there.  Here is a link with more info about the class. Registration is through Kanuga.

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2 Responses to Drawing: A Dance with the Divine

  1. Extraordinarily insightful and beauty-full! Privileged to know you. As I read, I journeyed back to key experiences in art class and moments of loving expression, sometimes appreciated by teachers, sometimes not. Glad I took the time to read this, a glimpse into the depths of the process of creating—

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