I was railing at no one and everything, howling at the just-up sun, grappling with the ongoing sense that my life is out of control (even though it isn’t). I know this song and dance. I’ve heard it many times before. I’ve railed so many times in my life now that it sounds like an irritating whine, a bothersome drone of “woe is me, I can’t seem to do all I need and want to do”, like some melodramatic housewife with the back of her hand to her forehead, wilting into a heap. Ugh.
I knew what to do. Draw. Just draw. Just sit down and draw what’s right in front of me. I took myself out on the back deck after a very early run to the grocery store (cuz I can’t seem to fit it all in ya know) and I sat with pens in hand poised over the blank Moleskine page.
That railing. Goodness. Such an obstruction to my view. Do I ignore it and draw as if it isn’t there? No. It’s too in-your-face. Gotta just go with it. It is unmovable and I’ll just have to work with it somehow… Thicker brush tip pen for the railing. Thinner Sharpie fine-liner for everything else. Here I am. All here. Lost in lines. the weight of all my attention begins to fall…into this chair, this sketchbook, my surroundings, the birch tree, the neighbor’s truck and car, the street, the leaves, my foot and the mailboxes. Heart rate has slowed. Following a line does this to me. It takes the spun-up flurry of broad, generalized, and often grossly exaggerated thoughts and brings it down to here, now. Right at this moment all is well! Really…all is well and good. And the next and foreseeable moments are all good too. Where does that railing in me come from?
And then I see it. Right on the page, directly in front of me. The railing to our deck. What once was a nuisance, an obstruction, prison bars keeping me from seeing the view, has now become a framework through which the view has structure and meaning. The railing sits there now as a solid boundary designed to protect and guard me from falling to injury. What once I wanted gone is now transformed into part of the landscape, a resting place for the eye as I look at my dashed off sketch. So much free-flowing leafage and vegetation anchored by the solidity of a deck railing.
This is the beauty of drawing. It anchors my jangly and driven thoughts. Provides a framework for all the free-flow of living, protects and guards me from bolting off into the world without a safety net.
If you are railing today…DRAW! If there’s a railing in your way…DRAW!
Find a railing of some sort somewhere and sit near it, draw through it, around it, over it and consider the possibility that the obstructions in your life might just have a beauty of their own if you could only see it and surrender to it (that’s the hard part!). It’s crazy that, for me, it takes drawing it to make me see the railing of my life as necessary anchors and protection rather than prison-box obstruction.
Draw to be able to see what cannot be seen with just your eyes.
Draw to see beyond and through the railings!
If you’re interested in developing further an ability to see life with an artful eye, this little Primer is a place to start. 🙂