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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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drawing techniques

Mindfulness Monday #6

This week’s pages were started in a different way. The binding shows on these pages and I thought that instead of trying to hide them or work round them, that it would be interesting to highlight them using negative space. I then used these shapes as the starting point for the whole design. It was fun to work on something that grew from the central point of the double page. I always try to start in a different place so that I vary the experience I get from the exercise. I’m very keen to avoid these drawings becoming in anyway planned or predictable. I want to ensure that they continue to demand my full attention. I feel that if my approach becomes systematic, I will lose a lot of the freedom and mindfulness which I’m currently enjoying.

The choice to draw more hearts is something that I think has come out of allowing myself to add my husband’s name last week. It’s always something I’ve doodled absent minded in notebooks but it was lovely to incorporate it into a mindfulness drawing and reconnect with what it really symbolises. If mindfulness is about calm and focus, shouldn’t we also find a way of celebrating love and happiness. I don’t know why it’s only just occurred to me. Of course these things go hand in hand. Is there anything in this world which makes us feel more calm, and more ‘in the moment’ than love. Whether that’s love for a partner, your family, your pets or just looking at a stunning view and connecting with how that makes you feel. I certainly feel that love is something I will be connecting with a lot more in my mindfulness drawings from now on.

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Mindfulness Monday #4

This week I explored lines in the most basic way – by that I mean singular lines that do not intersect each other. Instead I wanted to look at curved lines to suggest shape and form. I’ve looked at this in many ways across the drawing and enjoyed some of the effects it’s created. I’m still working out which shapes and patterns to keep and which to start moving away from.

From a mindfulness point of view, I’m really enjoying this project and have found it to be very therapeutic. It’s a brilliant way of getting absorbed in something which you can pick up and put down at any time. I’m aiming to create a double page spread slowly over each week. I’d suggest that anyone exploring mindfulness should give this technique a try or for the less confident, colouring books would allow you to achieve the same state of calm.

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Mindfulness Monday #1

This year I have decided to share a personal project which centers around mindfulness and whether it could have a positive effect on my creativity. Google defines mindfulness as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I’ll discuss mindfulness more broadly in future posts as there is a lot to cover. Several events in the last few months have pushed me towards exploring mindfulness and I’ve been pleased to find that there is an abundance of information on the web and a huge variety of tools and techniques related to it. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about this wellbeing concept is that it’s user friendly, easy to understand and so flexible that you can really personalise your practice.

After reading many webpages and articles about mindfulness I have picked up on the idea of drawing as a way of accessing a calm mind and maintaining focus. It naturally appeals to me as something which I feel I can integrate into my daily routine much quicker than learning something completely new. In a good painting session I naturally achieve a state of total out-of-body calm which mindfulness should allow us to achieve. What I want to do is find out whether I can reach a point where picking up a pen allows me to quickly achieve the same state of calm; much like when somebody practiced in the art of meditation can quickly bring themselves back to this state. Furthermore, will regularly drawing pieces (which are not contributing to a portfolio or developing techniques) actually benefit my creative practice.

I recently discovered a book which discusses creation as a spiritual path, and uses spiritual thinking to nurture creativity. Whilst the methodology explored in this book was not for me, reading about it did send me on an interesting journey of reflection. I am a stop/start artist but now I recognise this, how can I overcome this? From what I’ve discovered so far, it appears that mindfulness, which in itself does not involve religion or spirituality, could actually be integrated with personal believes to achieve a whole state of wellbeing which is very personal to the individual. Similarly I believe that my creative practice could be incorporated into mindfulness and hence actually enhance my creativity. I have the urge to be creative every day and I find that I am constantly developing new ideas for pieces and coming across things I long to paint. So why don’t I constantly have a painting in progress? I am starting 2016 after two months away from the easel but it’s not for lack of inspiration. I have a new piece ready to paint– the concept is developed, references gathered, and the canvas is ready to go – yet I have not begun painting. Can mindfulness practices really help me become a more focused and consistently productive artist?

 

My Mindfulness Drawing Technique

Before I share my first attempt at this, I want to explain what decisions I have made about this practice and how I hope to use it. Firstly and most importantly is the difference between mindfulness drawing and doodling. Whilst doodling is often subconscious or absent minded, mindfulness drawing demands full attention and focus. Every stroke must be deliberate and intended. That said, I will not be planning pieces in advance, nor preparing the page with layouts or guidelines. I believe focus will be easier to achieve if every stroke needs to be considered fully at the time and moment of its creation.

Secondly I am not trying to create beautiful pieces of art here so I will not be using reference or drawing pictures. In my mind drawing from reference is much more akin to still life and art skills in general. In line with this I will set out on this journey using a gel ink pen and an ordinary notebook of reasonable, but not artist quality. I do expect that pages full of black and white designs will create some visually stimulating work, but I want this to remain a by-product of the experience.

Lastly I want to make it clear that I am not following Zentangle or any other established method of mindfulness drawing. I think that following a set programme with rules and instructions is excellent if you are not artistically skilled. They can provide an excellent platform to allow someone with little artistic talent to utilise this type of technique but I am personally hoping to use my artistic skills to find my own path.

Follow my blog to keep up to date with how this project progresses and find out whether mindfulness drawing techniques can be a successful tool for artists hoping to kick start their creative flow. I’m aiming to post every Monday with a photo of my latest creation and an update on how the experiment is progressing. Can mindfulness nurture my creativity?

Happy New Year! Here’s week one:

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Mindfulness Monday #1

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