From faces to sensation

Mandala inspired drawing 2012
Mandala inspired drawing 2012

A reflection.

This is my latest mandala inspired drawing. I’m exploring the use of words as images, expressing emotions and giving insights, which become the focus of the meditation. I’m also exploring the different forms of drawing mediation.

Rose's face, Homeland, WSC 2012
Rose’s face, Homeland, WSC 2012


My work has changed quite a bit since the last exhibition of my work, Roses face, in Homeland, Jan 2012. It is hard to see how it is all connected, but it is and in the post I’m going to try and explain, to get my head around how it has evolved, where it came from and where it is going.

I was interested in drawing faces because this is what I found I was looking at the most. When having conversations I focus on them, looking at the form of the nose, the way the light fell on their eyes. It helped to ground me in the moment, to focus and be present. It was like I was drawing with my eyes, which calmed my mind and gave me peace and it was this experience which I was trying to express.

With Rose’s face and after, I was looking at different mediums and methods that would allow me to show this state of mind and be in it while drawing, nothing having to think too much about the use of the medium.

I played with paint, oils bars, I wanted to use colour to show the subtle differences I noticed through really looking. Painting just seems so unnatural to me I love using lines so much, it’s something  I’m still working with.

I started to use my own face as the object, drawing from life which posed new problems. The main obstacle that I keep facing is over working the drawings not know when to stop, for it to be an expression, and not feel the need to copy everything that I see. My work was becoming illustrations.

I started to read Drawing and Painting people a fresh approach by Emily Ball, it helped me to see that was I not drawing the person but drawing my feeling and sensations of the person. It was then that I decided to go back to the pencil and draw, keeping it simple and smaller drawing with lines; just concentrating on trying to capture an authentic response. It is still a struggle and something I am still exploring today, to respond with feelings and sensations through observation rather than intellect, which keeps saying this is what it looks like.

Trust the process, an artist’s guide to letting go by Shaun Mcniff is helping me with this, letting go. It also talks about doing what you know, it helped me to see that even though I didn’t class my art as ‘real art’ that it is because it is an expression. To do what I want to do rather than what I think I should. I started to just draws what interested me, the eyes, and the way light feel on them.

For over a year now I have been involved in setting up critique nights in the studio. I find these monthly get together important, that it can be isolating been an artist and it really inspires and give me enthusiasm hearing about peoples work and ideas

It was in a crit where I showed and explained the self-portrait response to observation drawing, that it was a form of mediation to me but the images did not show this. I had hope the images would show this when the process was perfected. We discussed my process, which is where my morning pages came into it and how writing and getting this off my chest in these pages, were an important part of it but seems to keep it separate from my work, it felt too personal and not part of the creative process, but it very much is.

I was looking at, thought, verbal and visual trying to switch off the mind, clear it so I could go deep into mediation, and show this state through my work.

I started to put my morning pages together with my drawing, seeing them as the same thing. To put less constraints on and just express verbally and visually. It felt more satisfying and I was learning to trust and be guided by my feeling, intuition.

I have come full circle, returning to a similar way in which I worked at University. Only now I have learnt and understood different technical skills, i.e. how to use colour, mix paint, which should help me push my work further in the future.

I had to try things to make sure it wasn’t for me, which now I know I have more of an idea about what I want to do and where to go from here….


Selection of pages from sketch books


Foot note

I am interested in thoughts and states of being. I’m exploring verbal and visual thoughts to   to clear and to mediate on. I’m researching the different types of drawing mediations; automatic and focused, mandalas and understanding it in terms of my own work. TBC.

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