The Intimacy of Drawing

How fascinating the level of intimacy offered by the practice of drawing.

Mountains in New Mexico

While visiting a friends home in Southern Arizona, I returned to the spot atop a nearby hill where I had sat and drawn the surrounding landscape a year prior. It is a captivating view of the windswept high desert mountains rising up from a stream of green cottonwoods and framed by the still-bare oak trees. 

A little sketch of the hills in Patagonia, AZ

When I crested the hill and saw again this view sprawled out before me I had such a feeling of familiarity, like seeing an old friend. I was reminded of this phenomenon that by drawing a thing (or rather, a being) you become so much more acquainted with it than by simply looking. You can integrate within yourself it’s curves, angles, perceived distances. The textures, lights and shadows….it’s essence. Upon drawing it, it becomes part of you, and you leave a piece of yourself in exchange.

A study of the movement of butterfly wings in research for my painting ‘A Breath of Life’

I believe that it is through these experiences and practices of becoming intimately acquainted with our surroundings- the natural world we live in- that we can foster the deep love for the earth that is needed to solve many of the issues facing the world today. By attentively observing what is going on around us; how the Ravens dance with the Hawks in defense of their territory, the directions the Wind blows, which Agave’s have lived long enough to erect their stalks in preparation for their final moments of life, what time of year the Creeks begin to flow and how the Desert environment reacts in accordance, we can see how rich, vibrant, alive and interdependent the world is. We can also begin to understand, even feel, how our actions impact what and who is around us. What a revolutionary act in our modern society, this active and attentive observation. To engage all the senses, be immersed in the here and now, and listen to the whispers carried to us upon the wind. To learn how to gather it all up; the hidden meanings, the unseen interactions, the being-ness, and translate it into an image is a lifelong practice filled with unraveling and re-grasping. 

Even drawing our loved ones gives us a deeper intimacy with them.

So, I encourage you to grab your preferred drawing tools and step out into nature and into your wildness. No matter your skills, no matter what it looks like. It’s not important if you ‘don’t know how to draw’, or if what you make isn’t pretty or doesn’t look like you want it to, it’s about being present, its about the practice. Engage the journey of learning how to see, how to listen, how to be, and the world will get richer before your eyes.

Catalina Mountains, AZ
A photo of a drawing of a wetland in Alberta
Sketching a wetland during harvest time in Alberta

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