Over the long weekend I went to a gathering that I’ve gone to annually for a number of years now. Attendees spend the weekend in “clans”, using focused activities to do whatever personal work is in front of them. In 2009 I was in the Otter clan, working with the idea of establishing daily practice. That’s when I formed the intention of making a drawing every day, and actually did the first drawings.
One of the earliest obstacles to daily practice was facing my own expectations. I got to the end of a day, exhausted and just wanting to go sleep; didn’t think I had a drawing in me. My husband observed that I never said I had to draw something excellent, just that I had to draw something. Even if it was just a circle on a page. Don’t let myself off the hook for doing something each day. As it turns out, some of those 30 second doodles are wonderfully amusing or evocative! A thing I tell myself at the beginning or early stages, when I’m faced with a blank page or something that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is that there is always something interesting to see, wherever you are. There’s not really a way to fail.
Soon after I started the practice, I decided to post the drawings as a form of accountability. I made a decision early on not to apologize or self-critique the drawings I post. I’m simply showing what I came up with during my drawing time, not exhibiting polished and finished products. The odd bits and shortcomings I might see are actually a part of what I’m trying to convey – they show the process, point out places I might want to explore. This is part of what I tell myself when I post drawings I’m not especially pleased with or proud of. Sometimes I post drawings I really feel are throw-aways, but get comments that show me things I didn’t even see I had done. So much of this practice has been about finding tricks that help me to get out of my own way.
It’s been seven years now, which seems like a good number. That’s long enough for me to see some contours of the journey. I’ve had time to watch myself deal with resistance and discouragement, and time to develop some confidence. It’s also long enough that I feel this is a part of my life now, it’s just one of the things that I do.
My drawings from the past week. I brought limited drawing supplies along to Twilight Covening, which often prompts me to stretch a little. Being out of my studio sometimes offers the chance to do more observational work, but it turned out that I didn’t have much time to focus or be alone. I took time where I could, often while listening to conversations among friends. What came out on the page is memory, dream and mood.