Hold on to a memory

My mother taking a rare moment to catch her breath

I know that most of the time we capture a moment that we want to treasure by snapping a photo with the camera on our phone. And that’s still a great way to capture a moment in my opinion.

But when I drew this unfinished sketch of my mother resting on her rocking chair, I was cementing that image in my brain in a way I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. The act of spending time to sit and draw every curve (the soft curves of her body, the swirls of the bentwood chair) has committed that image (and everything I felt about the vision) to my memory for ever.

Send a more personal greeting

A tiny drawing by my daughter on a friend’s greeting card

Whenever we have time, we try to include a little drawing on our Christmas and birthday cards. Its not always possible, but when it is, I think it makes the message all the more special and personal.

My daughter has been drawing the most beautiful Christmas trees and snowmen on some of our friend’s Christmas cards this year. I think the recipients are going to love them!

I don’t think you have to be much of an accomplished artist to draw a little doodle inside a greetings card, and the simpler drawings that are executed quite quickly and decisively are so much better than the ones we agonise over. So for my 10th reason to draw, I think this is definitely a good one!

You can explain something to someone

I wanted to make a cowl from a piece of fabric, but since cowl’s come in a variety of styles, I needed a drawing to communicate my idea.

I grew up watching my mother sew. Every time she embarked on a new job, whether it was a wedding dress or a pair of shorts, the communication between my mother and her client involved a rough sketch. It was an essential part of the communication, and could not be underestimated.

When my wedding day came, my mother and I were separated by sea, land and a pandemic. So I decided I would sew my own wedding dress. But the project involved many phone calls and zooms where I picked the brain of my mother’s years of dressmaking experience and expertise. Almost every conversation also involved a drawing, and almost every drawing was followed by an audible “Ah-ha! Now I get it”

You can plan out your space with a drawing

Reason 8 of “reasons to draw” is that it can be a real help with planning out your space!

I have sketched out my ideas on paper, at some point or another, for every single room I’ve lived in. Above is the simple sketch I drew for a re-tiling and turf job I’d like done in our tiny back yard.

It really helps to be able to communicate the vision you have for a particular room or space with an actual, physical drawing. Especially if the project involves the cooperation of more than one person.

Drawing teaches you to see things differently

I started to see things very differently the more I drew.

Take this Irish dancer at a local féis for example. My eyes were working much harder than my pencil was. They were taking in the details that made each dancer unique, such as the way the gathered hair drooped at the back of the neck, the position of the chin, the relationship between the nose and the forehead.

When you train yourself to capture the essence of something in a drawing, you are training your brain and your eyes far more than your ability to make the physical marks with the pencil.

Drawing can capture a moment

Feeling cramped on a Ryanair flight pre-pandemic

When you sketch you capture a moment in a way that stays with you longer.

And not everything can be captured in photos. Like the feeling of being cramped and uncomfortable on a Ryanair flight for 3 hours.

Drawing can make someone smile

A scene from her imagination, by my daughter, age 4

For Day 3 of “reasons to draw” I couldn’t think of a more apt drawing than this one by my daughter.

This drawing continues to make us smile to this day.

She grabbed the brightest, boldest pens and depicted this scene from her 4-year old imagination.

She was absorbed, delighted, engrossed in the act of drawing and this made her smile.

And in witnessing that process and satisfaction, we smiled too.

Drawing is inexpensive

This little elf was drawn using just one HB pencil

Compared with other hobbies, drawing really does require so very little. A pencil and a piece of paper is all you need.

When you type the words “drawing is cheap” into google, the first hits lead you to an array of relatively expensive drawing tablets and tech with the promise of magically making drawing more satisfying.

Drawing does not have to cost you any money at all. You can draw in the sand, with a stone, with your finger. Owning costly drawing tools does not make you better at drawing, and often dupes us into skipping the steps we can only learn from more primitive forms of mark-making. I began drawing at an age so young that no one remembers when I started. I have acquired a lot of equipment over the years, but I still begin (and often complete) every single drawing with the same 4 items:

A pencil, a paper, an eraser, a sharpener

Drawing is meditative

Drawing repeated shapes, swirls and patterns is something we can all do naturally.

It is difficult to calm ourselves when everything around us seems to be chaotic. But our minds don’t have to be chaotic too. If you’ve attempted mindfulness but felt it didn’t work out for you, try this:

To quiet our thoughts, we need to find something to focus on.  Pick up a pencil, or a pen, and a piece of paper. Sit anywhere you feel comfortable.

With the pencil in your hand, let your gaze wander around you, and just imagine that the pen or pencil you have chosen is patiently resting in your hand, happy to simply exist until you are ready for it to fulfil its special purpose and make a mark.

I usually let my eyes see the objects around me as simple shapes. For the meditative drawing in this post, my gaze rested on the simplest object in the room:  A cone-shaped biscuit tin, shaped like a Christmas tree.

Simplify the shape in your mind until it looks like something you can easily draw. I simplified my cone-shaped tin to a triangle.

Then, when you’re ready, just shift your gaze from the object to the paper, and trust in yourself that with your simple, helpful tools, you will make a pleasing mark on your paper.

For this drawing, my first marks were several triangles of different sizes, scattered around my paper.

Look at what is on your page with kindness, and thank your body for working together as  a team (your eyes, your hand, your wrist etc.) to produce these marks.  Thank your pencil and your paper, too.

At this point, the most important thing to do is to continue making marks.

You can look up again at the object, or you can let your imagination fill the page. Just keep the pencil or pen moving, and continue for as long as you feel comfortable.

Remember that today’s reason to draw is to meditate, not to satisfy the critics.  Let’s not get tied up in knots ‘thinking’ about drawing. Lets draw.

Does the thought that you are not a celebrity chef ever stop you making yourself something to eat? No. So don’t allow the thought that your are not Rembrandt to stop you drawing.