Trying to learn Mindfulness: My beginning

Stop the bandwagon, I want to get on!

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was I needed a space to record what I was doing. I am increasingly aware that what I enjoy the most about drawing, is the way it lets me experience my own life in a more focused way; really looking at my surroundings, ways of responding to what I see and feel and a way to capture my feelings. For a long long time I have been bogged down by getting it perfect. If I’m doing a life drawing, it has to be exact. I have to capture everything in front of my exactly as I see it or it’s a failure. The pressure of being this perfect has caused me to not want to even start. I know that art is a process, the final images is built up of layers the artist creates through many different decisions, following what their own instinct/ experience is guiding them to choose as they go through their process. I KNOW this and yet…my mind cannot start for fear of being lost and getting it ‘wrong’.

I like to go onto a location and sketch what’s around me and I like to go off script when I do manage it, adding my own imaginative details, making it my own. I don’t make time for this often, it’s a habit I’ve been trying to cultivate for years but my comfort zone doesn’t seem to extend into this area and the habits never stick. It’s so much easier to just snap a photo right? Right, which is why I have a ridiculous amount of photos I have rarely used to draw from.

I have to change. Which is where mindfulness comes into play. I’ve been looking into it for a while, and by looking into I mean reading random posts in pinterest…I read the book ‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi which seemed to cover some principles of it, looking at how our lives are shaped by where our attention is focused. I signed up to a free online course in Mindfulness and got to week 4 before I stopped making time for it and just gently let my hand fall open and allowed it to drift away from me.

So frustrating!

What I want to achieve is to be more aware of when and where my attention drifts, to change my attitude and achieve some more self-management so I can finally achieve those goals I’ve been setting myself. To stop over thinking and analysing everything that passes through my mind. The fear of change I think is one of life’s biggest stumbling block and boy, does it have a hold of me! I’m so comfy just talking about my want of change, sitting at the beginning before the possibility of getting it ‘wrong’ can come to pass. How do I change from being comfortable to being actively curious enough to move? In my head I have decided that NOW is the time I will do it. I go to sleep, I get up and hey presto, my mind wanders away from the uncomfortable and into my same old routine. Any thoughts that do surface get squished into the ‘to do’ list for tomorrow. Tbh, that’s a pretty long list at the minute…

Now don’t get me wrong, I know I have some very good company with me right now, many people have this dilemma and come to the same response as me. It’s why we put up with the boring jobs because we all know that ‘someday soon’ we won’t be there, we’ll be pursuing our dream of ‘whatevertheheckiwasputonthisplanetfor’ and finally our real lives will start…Ugh, it’s so sad to see it in writing because the answer is so obvious. Someday never comes if you don’t move on from what you’re doing today and do something different.

I want some day now. I want to travel and explore the world with my creative practice and share this with everyone and make people’s lives better but I have to start with me. The me right now is standing on page one of the book she wants to write with a whole wheelbarrow full of tools she’s been hoarding but never using.

I had this thought the other day when walking to my work…” If I don’t do it, it won’t exist for me.” If I don’t change my routine, it will never be full of the new things I want to exist in my world. I will never experience them. I will never ever have them. Not a one.

Mindfulness is one of these things. Chapter One: Learn to be Mindful…How do I do this again?

I’m starting with the book ‘Wherever you go there you are.’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn (it was the first one that looked interesting in my library). I need to get some starting pointers and i can’t get it all from pinterest. I also want to follow some blogs that talk about Mindfulness so if anyone that manages to get to the end of this blog post (I realise it’s quite lengthy right now) has any recommendations, please fire away in the comments section below!

Phew, I needed to get that out there! I hopefully won’t emotionally rant too much on this blog but if anyone is feeling the same as me right now, it would be a real comfort to hear from you in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

On Being scared to sketch

I think this predicament is common and that it’s something that many professional and hobby artists deal with and that yes, it does get easier in time but not with age (as we know when watching children sketch…They’re so darn carefree!). Something I have been dealing with for a long time is why, even though I love art and get inspired by nature and constantly look at other artworks and read various art books, I don’t draw and paint half as much as I should. Why all the procrastination? Why all the anxiety and fear at the beginning? What’s the deal brain, I thought this was what you wanted to do!

Silly brain…I think it’s just overwhlemed. By inadvertantly putting pressure on what i’m about to produce, my vision and thoughts that i’m going to capture by drawing, by judging it before i’ve even made a mark….I create a dream artwork before the real artwork even has a chance to begin to create itself and it will never match up to all the half formed ideas that are in my head, merging together.

I think the best thing to do when you’re scared to even start to sketch is to stop thinking of it as a finished piece of artwork and think of it as an exploratory journey. What am I looking at? What an interesting leaf! The way there is a rhythm going through all the branches is relaxing to look at, how does it look if I try to capture it with these kind of marks. Hm, not so good, i’ll make a note of that and remember it for the next sketch I do. How big are these leaves compared to the ones in the background? How will my mark-making change? How much space do they take up compared to the foreground leaves?

Knowing different drawing techniques is still a must, but sometimes we forget that they’re just advice to help us, things people have learnt in the past through trial and error and have passed along as a good way of achieving a particular task. As an artist, you’re allowed to have your own trial and errors and to find your own way of capturing things that you’ve discovered on your own exploratory journeys. The creative jumps and experiments that you make based on your own tastes and judgements help to create new processes.

So don’t be scared to start sketching, there isn’t a need for fear or anxiety here, just curiousity and a desire for discovery. Plus, you don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to but it can fun to chat about your discoveries and errors with other artists. Share the journey you’re both on and laugh at things that didn’t go quite right but look kinda funny now…

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