The (Almost) Spiritual Discipline of Sketching

Earlier this week I met a new friend from church at a coffee shop to pick his brain on career ideas (he has background in English and theology as I do). We didn't talk that much about career because we keep finding things we have in common. We both like to bicycle, do photography, dabble at the guitar, paint, and draw. 

I recently received a book on sketching to review and have enjoyed looking at it. I tend to sketch a bit--especially Sundays at church in the margins of my sermon notes--and the book has been encouraging to do it frequently. In the past I would draw a lot of nature scenes or other landscapes that I could just imagine and make up--I paint that way too. But the book encourages looking at what's around you and drawing that. 

My friend has been doing it daily--he plans on keeping that up through this new year. He post them on his blog: Dumb Sketch Daily (https://dumbsketchdecember.wordpress.com). He, too, is focusing on the things he sees. 

We had a good discussion about drawing. I decided it's almost a spiritual discipline. For tthe sake of not being branded a heretic again (I'm not sure when I was last, but I'm sure I have been), I won't directly call it a spiritual discipline. But almost a spiritual discipline--especially when drawing what is observed around you.

It makes you slow down and be present. That in itself is a spiritual discipline. But there is something added when using your eyes and moving your hand to create. I remember someone saying once that to be created in the image of God is to be given the ability and even need to create. We are not fully human if we don't create (whether it be art, clothing, woodworking, or a meal). 

The motion of drawing is almost prayer like in a way. As is the being present and noticing the details. Sometimes part of my problem is being in my head too much. Sketching gets me into reality. 

Below are three sketches from today. The first was the purse of the woman sitting ahead of me in church. It was under her chair. I  didn't get it all done--and there were parts the seat was obscuring, but I consider it a success because I typically would not draw something like that. Too many folds and creases and such. So just attempting it was a big step for me.

The second and third sketches were done at a concert at the conservatory at the Como Park Zoo tonight. The boot was on a woman standing near me (I was sitting). She and her friend noticed I was drawing it...that was a little awkward. But she didn't mind. She asked to see it later. I assured her that I didn't have a foot fetish or anything, but was just praticing sketching. The lasst one was of an older woman on the other side of the room from me. I didn't get much done before she took off her coat and then moved out of my line of sight, so there isn't much detail in her face yet. They're all incomplete, unfinished works. That would bother me at times. But I don't mind right now. It's a process. Progress, not perfection, as the old adage says. 

Which is also something I'm working on with my spiritual life. I grew up feeling I had to be perfect for God. Otherwise he might go Old Testament on my butt (even though I know He's not really a vengeful, wrathful God). And that need for spiritual perfectionism paralyzed me in some ways. But the spiritual life is a journey, not a final exam. Again, progress, not perfection. 

So to end in gratitude (which is always a good way to end anything): I'm thankful for creativity, for a sketchbook and pencils, for the ability to use my senses to take in the world around me, and for God's patient love and mercy. I'm thankful for lessons learned over a cup of tea and over graphite on paper. There is much to learn and see when I just take the time to sit and be present. 

1 comment:

livingstoncontent.com said...

Great reflection! I agree--in fact, you got me thinking about it as well: http://wp.me/qJ7j
Great sketches!