I suspect that you rarely approach your sketchbook with thoughts about what the process of drawing in it can do for you!
Rarely too, do we hold our sketchbooks to account for our personal journeys of development.
As I have plumbed deeper into this unique creative skill I have found myself uncovering power in my own sketchbook through appreciating the process one experiences through a journey of creativity.
One of my favourite artists, especially his sketchbooks, is Leonardo Da Vinci, often referenced as the polymath whose genius knew no bounds.
Could we, like him, use our sketchbooks to become renaissance men and women with unique capabilities triggered through our creativity?
My sketchbook over the years that I have kept one has shone a light on my creative capability. It forms a touchstone for silence and calm, challenges my vision, supports my well being, brings contentment through the very many acts of idea generation and creation, and refines the faculties of intuition, memory and imagination.
What is the result?
(Not simply shelves of sketchbooks) but someone more in tune with herself and her surroundings and someone able to use the resources to grow in creative confidence.
Other interesting traits are emerging too linked to thinking differently and aspiring to a new way of living.
Granted, in this day and age of marvel super heroes, the humble sketchbook is a quiet contender in the ring for hero status.
If there is one request I make of you whilst reading this article is, that the next time you pick up your sketchbook you do so consciously, aware of what happens to different aspects of your being.
Let’s start with the first step with which to approach embedding the process I am discussing.
“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear” Rumi
The power in your sketchbook begins with silence and an attitude of stillness.
It’s a well known fact that our world is a noisy one. Ironic too that we are in constant pursuit of peace. Never before have we been so overwhelmed with “well being” messages. It seems, however, that even with all of these mindfulness solutions we struggle to dial down the noise. Mindfulness and noise nowadays seems to co-exist!
By the very nature of having to transcribe or draw what you see, you have to slow down and “still” yourself to what you are doing. Scientists have found that when you draw, your body responds as if in a meditative state or one akin to a similar frame of mind when practicing yoga.
I also believe that it is not so much the silence that is the lesson here but achieving the environment silence creates: one of stillness. Stillness gives birth to something intensely creative.
Being able to inculcate the attitude of stillness can support you draw even in the noisiest of environments.
Through the stillness of focus, as you pick up your pencil to draw, silence can usher in a refinement of your other senses that provide the catalyst to supporting your personal creative journey.
Lets stop to explore how some of these do in fact translate into the power in your sketchbook!
Just like, Kimon Nicolaides did in his classroom in 1930s New York I too advocate that;
“Imagine your pencil point is touching the model instead of the paper….wait until you are convinced that the pencil is touching that point on the model upon which your eyes are fastened.”
When we draw we don’t necessarily stop to appreciate how to truly “see” an object.
One of Leonardo’s mottoes was Super Vedere (knowing how to see.) Learning how to see is a continual process but one that leads to excellent draughtmanship and is the route to successful drawing.
The second thing I teach in relation to the power of our vision and how good we are at seeing is to forget for a moment our hands and the pencil we hold when we draw.
Too often we emphasise the wrong action when we start to learn to draw. It is the process of seeing first that should be our starting point. The act of our eyes absorbing the image in all of its fulness and then allowing the brain to process what it sees.
How do you truly see what is in front of you with your eyes and not, perhaps, your understanding? What do I mean by this? We struggle to draw a “thing” because we depend on our own understanding and interpretation of it, the knowledge we have of it. This presumption gets in our way – we abandon the simple but powerful act of looking as our first point. It is inevitable that we then get stuck. Our own interpretation is overcomplicated and not as simple as simply looking at the object in front of us.
I want you for a moment to also consider practicing visualisation when you next open the pages of your sketchbook.Leonardo believed that drawing was the foundation of painting and learning to see.
“Drawing is as indispensable to the architect and the sculptor as it is to the potter and goldsmith, the weaver, or the embroiderer…it has given arithmeticians their figures; it has taught geometers the shape of their diagrams; it has instructed opticians, astronomers, machine builders and engineers.”
Drawing is the key to understanding how to create! Learning to draw can support you develop a daily habit of visualisation.
My sketchbook has become a daily journal and I have one dedicated to future ideas as well as contains sketches of the type of life I want to lead. Using this approach, there is power in your sketchbook in the form of creating a positive outlook.
The power in your sketchbook in this section is one that we easily overlook. There are two aspects to memory to explore.
All drawing is an act of memory. Even if you are sat directly next to the thing you are drawing you are relying on a process of memory. From eye to brain and brain to hand. Everything you draw on that page depends on split second decisions on the basis of your memory – how well you transcribe it again links back to how thoroughly you have assessed your object and followed through with a process of marking your page.
The second powerful aspect to memory relates to the thoughts that your creative act triggers in your future. For example, those of you who have a full sketchbook to hand, pick it up and flip through it. As you look at your drawings can you remember what was happening in the environments in which you were drawing them? The radio play that was on? The coffee you were drinking on the Saturday morning you were drawing? The programme you were watching on the television? The fun day you had?
Powerful. All from one drawing!
I’m not sure the photographs snapped on our phones can have half the impact a roughly hewn sketch does, especially in proving memory recall.
I want to share with you how I have used this process to carve out the vision for my own personal success.
As I draw – it could be a still life, my day, an apple, a standard sketch – I am not only looking at what I am drawing, I am allowing my mind to settle on positive and expansive thoughts. I think about the future, the things I am going to go and enjoy doing, the places I want to see and so forth. I even allow thoughts of what I’d like to achieve that week flow through my mind. I attach the “vision” to the object I am drawing. This visual journalling has a profound impact of jolting my memory by association every time I look at the object I am drawing.
My life is totally unrecognisable today in comparison to when I started drawing 3 years ago.
Yours can be too!
These are only the start of the super power capabilities that a sketchbook brings into your creative life.
Learning how to tap into this potential is a core focus of Emily’s Notebook. Every learning course developed aims to not just teach you to draw but to also bring an in-depth understanding of the core components a skill like this can bring you.
Learn to place your drawing and creativity higher up your valued priority list and it will equip you with superpowers.