I’ve been doing some drawing and painting lately for the first time ever, and really trying to bring my Beginner’s Mind to all of it. The quotes this month are all from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which has been sitting on my bookshelf unread since it was published in 1989. Until this week.
One exercise in the book is to copy the Picasso drawing of Stravinsky, upside down. I did exactly as instructed and, much to my surprise, it ain’t bad! Wouldn’t have been nearly as close or as much fun if I’d tried right-side-up.
Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see – to see correctly – and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye.
Gertrude Stein asked the French artist Henri Matisse whether, when eating a tomato, he looked at it the way an artist would. Matisse replied: “No, when I eat a tomato I look at it the way anyone else would. But when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently.”
It is in order to really see, to see ever deeper, ever more intensely, hence to be fully aware and alive, that I draw what the Chinese call ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ around me. Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly rediscover the world.
I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.
The artist is the confidant of nature. Flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.
When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.
To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large – this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone.
There is something antic about creating, although the enterprise be serious. And there is a matching antic spirit that goes with writing about it, for if ever there was a silent process, it is the creative one. Antic and serious and silent.
To empty one’s mind of all thought and refill the void with a spirit greater than oneself is to extend the mind into a realm not accessible by conventional processes of reason.
Quotes and drawing exercise from: