exercise three: form

Why do it?

You may have noticed in the last drawing meditation that you felt as if you were in a landscape. One of the features of intense attention is the loss of distance that is created by duality. In normal life we see ourselves as apart from the world we talk to others and assess them and their responses as something other than ourselves. They are other people not us. We are someone else.

When we concentrate on the wood and attend to its surface, looking intently at every variation, every change in texture and direction of grain we loose that sense of the wood as being something other than ourselves, we are in there, on the landscape, part of the landscape there is no difference between us and the landscape because we have no time or head space left to consider the distance, the it and me our entire being is with the landscape of the wood.

Thinking of drawing in this way and reflecting on the experience we can consider how this feeling can be bought into normal life. After completing a drawing meditation when you feel the loss of duality the next time you talk to someone pay complete attention to their words and actions, then pause and pay full attention to the words you are going to say, then listen to the words as you say them and note how you feel.

Do what?

Repeat the first part of this exercise with either the same piece of wood from a different angle or another. This time as you draw consider the form of the material as well as the surface texture. So far we have looked at line, two dimensional shapes and surface texture but all of these are artificial representations made up in our heads from the information that is taken in by our eyes. There are no lines or two dimensional shapes in life and surface texture is only a part of the three dimensions that make up the world. It could be argued that everything we see and feel is an artificial representation of the world, and of course the space we call three dimensional is more accurately four dimensional space-time, but we don’t need to explore these concepts at the moment. Suffice to say that as evolved beings we experience the world in three dimensions.

Seeing the form as three dimensional you will realise that the lines you draw at the ‘edge’ are not edges at all, if you move your head slightly the form is bounded by a new ‘edge’. the line that defines the edge is not an ending to the form and not an outline of the form but is made up of all the contours of the form the traverse its surface. In this drawing keep in mind that you are drawing something that exists as a three dimensional form. focus on what it would be like to hold the piece of wood in your hands turning it around noticing how it changes when looked at from different angles and in different light.

1 pick up the piece of wood and look at it. feel its weight, turn it slowly and see how the ‘edge’ disappears and form takes over. hold it close to the light source and notice how its form can be well or poorly defined.

2 draw as before but now attend to the form of the piece, how its surface recedes from you, how aspects may overlap and particularly how it has no edges

3 – when you draw the extremes of the piece move your head slightly so you can see where the surface goes and allow this information to inform how you draw that aspect of the form.

As always spend a few moments after the drawing reflecting on the experience. How was the experience of seeing and drawing from different from drawing line, shape or texture? how did you feel when you shifted your head to see round the ‘edge’? look around you and see if you can perceive the form of the room and its contents rather than the shapes those things make.