Drawing to pass the time

It seems to me that no matter how organised we are with our time, life involves periods of intense business and periods of just plain waiting around for things. I can’t remember what I was waiting for when I drew this picture of my dog. But it was time well spent anyway.

Fund raise for a good cause

You don’t have to climb a mountain, run a marathon or pour freezing cold buckets of ice on your head to raise money for a charity you care about. Sometimes you can fund-raise from the comfort of your own home. I designed and illustrated these cards for Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland to raise funds for their wildlife hospital.

You can help someone see what you see

This is a scene from the village I grew up in. Its on the south coast of Malta.

When something means a lot to you, you tend to want other people to see the beauty in it too.

I have taken many photos of this village, but I think that when I drew this sketch I was picking out the parts that really mattered to me and pouring my love into the process of trying to render them faithfully on the page.

You will see for yourself if you look closely. Pictures are like that. They are as much about the process of making them as they are about the time spent looking at them.

Drawing can help with understanding nature

Flowers are a good example, but the above statement can be applied to any part of nature.

Just being close to living things helps us feel connected and more grounded. Plants, trees, water, grass, leaves, wildlife; whatever it is, I think being really close to other living things helps us understand nature in a way that is far more beneficial to our health than learning about them from books or through screens.

That’s not to say studying nature through other mediums to gain more knowledge about them isn’t useful. I love reading books and visiting websites about how trees communicate, how plants grow, how animals survive. But when I’m out there looking hard at the real thing, being in the same space which that living thing occupies, breathing the same air it breaths, and really studying its every detail to try to capture its beauty on a page, I feel I am getting to know it in a way I never would if I had just looked at it through someone else’s eyes.

The act of drawing the lillies above or the daffodils below, observing, (slowly, since drawing takes time) their every detail, the fragility of their petals, helped me to understand them so much better.

You can multi-task

There may only be a few things you can do while drawing, but they do exist! I sketched this portrait of my daughter while homeschooling her. As she read aloud and worked through her English, I sketched.

Listening to audio books or radio documentaries is another useful and enjoyable way to multi-task while drawing.

Focus on one thing at a time

Trying to draw an entire scene can be overwhelming. But like a lot of things in life, I find it helps to break it down. Focus on one thing at a time.

When drawing the sketch above, I was focussed on the tip of my neighbour’s house, and the way the trees and sky looked behind it in the winter sun.

Often, when life gets complicated and overwhelming, I find that focusing on one small area of my craft (eg. shading or tree branches) helps me to slow down and focus my thoughts on other things too.

Hold on to a memory

My mother taking a rare moment to catch her breath

I know that most of the time we capture a moment that we want to treasure by snapping a photo with the camera on our phone. And that’s still a great way to capture a moment in my opinion.

But when I drew this unfinished sketch of my mother resting on her rocking chair, I was cementing that image in my brain in a way I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. The act of spending time to sit and draw every curve (the soft curves of her body, the swirls of the bentwood chair) has committed that image (and everything I felt about the vision) to my memory for ever.

Send a more personal greeting

A tiny drawing by my daughter on a friend’s greeting card

Whenever we have time, we try to include a little drawing on our Christmas and birthday cards. Its not always possible, but when it is, I think it makes the message all the more special and personal.

My daughter has been drawing the most beautiful Christmas trees and snowmen on some of our friend’s Christmas cards this year. I think the recipients are going to love them!

I don’t think you have to be much of an accomplished artist to draw a little doodle inside a greetings card, and the simpler drawings that are executed quite quickly and decisively are so much better than the ones we agonise over. So for my 10th reason to draw, I think this is definitely a good one!

You can explain something to someone

I wanted to make a cowl from a piece of fabric, but since cowl’s come in a variety of styles, I needed a drawing to communicate my idea.

I grew up watching my mother sew. Every time she embarked on a new job, whether it was a wedding dress or a pair of shorts, the communication between my mother and her client involved a rough sketch. It was an essential part of the communication, and could not be underestimated.

When my wedding day came, my mother and I were separated by sea, land and a pandemic. So I decided I would sew my own wedding dress. But the project involved many phone calls and zooms where I picked the brain of my mother’s years of dressmaking experience and expertise. Almost every conversation also involved a drawing, and almost every drawing was followed by an audible “Ah-ha! Now I get it”

You can plan out your space with a drawing

Reason 8 of “reasons to draw” is that it can be a real help with planning out your space!

I have sketched out my ideas on paper, at some point or another, for every single room I’ve lived in. Above is the simple sketch I drew for a re-tiling and turf job I’d like done in our tiny back yard.

It really helps to be able to communicate the vision you have for a particular room or space with an actual, physical drawing. Especially if the project involves the cooperation of more than one person.

Drawing teaches you to see things differently

I started to see things very differently the more I drew.

Take this Irish dancer at a local féis for example. My eyes were working much harder than my pencil was. They were taking in the details that made each dancer unique, such as the way the gathered hair drooped at the back of the neck, the position of the chin, the relationship between the nose and the forehead.

When you train yourself to capture the essence of something in a drawing, you are training your brain and your eyes far more than your ability to make the physical marks with the pencil.