Thursday, July 26, 2012


"Drawing is the time-bound activity of seeing. It stills the brains noise and gives us a window to a process as independent as the autonomic nervous system. It seems peculiar that the process should be so elusive "
Professor Don Dame. Artist, teacher.

I discovered this quote in the opening page of one of my journals last week as I was having a major studio throw out and re arranging my workspace. It is good to look back through your old journals now and then to see what you were thinking about and working on at different stages of your life. But when did I stop drawing so often? I hardly spend any time drawing fact I cannot remember the last time I spent a day drawing?  Did the digital camera take over?  I am certain that it has. Once you would find a sketchbook in my bag along with a few pens and pencils but now you would only find a very small notebook and a digital camera and if in need I could always use the camera in my phone. Wow when did I get so slack? all this instant technology makes one (me anyway) lazy and reliant on something more instant. I always admire anyone who can pull off the 'drawing a day challenge' Every January I get slightly itchy and geared up to maybe give it a try but then doubt creeps in and I envision empty pages by February. A tapestry diary is not really for me either and I struggle with 3 pages of streamed thoughts written down in longhand first thing in the morning as recommended in Julia Cameron's book ' The Artists Way'

The one thing that is plainly obvious to me at the moment is that I need to spend time again working in my journals and drawing more, far more for that matter. When you keep the practice up creativity flows freely, one idea leads to another and your hand and eye are kept in practice. I always loved life drawing classes and miss them dearly. I would go every day if I could because they keep your drawing free. No time to intellectualize what you see or even what you are doing. Short 2 minute poses can bring out the best in you. Rather than the 'blank stare' that white fright can give you when you begin thinking too much about what you are going to do. Artist Joy Hester once said that 'Life drawing to the painter is the same as love to the poet' 

Most kids love colouring, I know that Coen did and spent many quiet hours engrossed in his colouring books. Children don't know what it is to be hung up on the idea of copying what you see and trying so hard to get it right and that feeling of failure that creeps up on you when it is just not going right. The only thing that children are thinking about is the act of creative play. Have you ever met a four year old who claims to have no artistic talent just because their drawing did not work out the way they hoped? Picasso was quoted as saying ' Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up' and Jung claimed that 'The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect. But by the play instinct, acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves'

Coen is drawing a lot at the moment, wallpapering his bedroom with his latest pencil drawings. It is wonderful to see him interested in making art, to show a photo would be invading his privacy. But he does have some photos of his drawings on his phone (there you go, technology again) and he will show them to selective people who are interested in what he is doing.

When I was in Canberra earlier in the year I bought two wonderful new books. One is Margaret Olley's 'Life'sJourney' a catalogue from an exhibition of drawings, from her many overseas travels. The second was 'NOTEBOOKS Betty Churcher'. A beautifully written book about threatened with the possible loss of her eyesight, the former Director of the National Gallery of Australia traveled to London and Madrid to draw her favorite works of art. Commenting that to draw the masterpieces from life, she would be able to commit them to her memory. The drawings from her notebooks are delightful. A must read book for anyone interested in art. The artist BrettWhiteley always advised students to get themselves some cheap drawing materials, charcoal, pencils and ink, and 'aim at anything' Well I think that I am off to have a play and see what happens?

A final word from the artist Mirka Mora.

'With drawing you travel to dangerous places. Drawing is an exploration you don't know where it will take you.....It is like being in a dark place really; there is no light and yet the white paper stares at you' 


  1. Debbie, I linked to this post on my blog:

    Thought I'd let you know! Thanks for the nudge to draw and sketch more.

  2. Thank you for this post Debbie. I am the small notebook and digital camera person at the moment though recently have started using my pens again. You have encouraged me to look more carefully by drawing instead of just snapping a photo that gets lost in the photo files on the computer most of the time.

  3. Thanks Kathy, I think we all need a nudge!

  4. Hi Rebecca, it is easy to be seduced by the camera. I agree with what you say about trying to find the photo you want once your computer eats them.


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