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automatic drawing the artist's journey Jun 28, 2023

June 28, 2023

Yesterday was the originally scheduled date for my hip replacement surgery.  Fortunately ... because I'm healthy in many ways, I was the one chosen to be bumped up to May 17th when a cancellation was called in. Since the moment I awoke from surgery (not including the two times I passed out and my blood pressure plummeted to 47 over 31) I have had a remarkable recovery.  I used only a cane for two weeks and have been walking unassisted since then, dragging water hoses around the yard and crawling under tables to fix fish tank pumps.  Physically, I'm doing extremely well.  Mentally and emotionally, not quite so well.

As my body was being put back together, a major part of my personal life was falling apart ... in addition to several less major portions of my personal life.  I felt as if my brain was experiencing lightning strikes, short circuiting every few minutes or every few hours.  The only other time I have felt the need to process extreme feelings through art was many years ago when my son was mugged and held at knifepoint in the Metro in Belgium.  This time around, I turned to automatic drawing.  It felt like the only kind of drawing i could do.  Everything else felt incredibly and totally trivial.  Why sketch a coffee pot?  Why sketch a beautiful landscape?  Why sketch a close up study of a beautiful flower?  

At other times, I would need no justification for sketching ... sketching anything and everything. At this time, I felt incapable of doing anything more than connecting arbitrary dots, and so that's what I did.  And, I continue to do so as i am gradually able to focus on a world beyond my dots.

As often happens, I am surprised by the response I receive from what I felt is fairly inconsequential, the connecting of dots.  While attempting to re-enter the real world, I created an online class on Skillshare to teach the game of connecting the dots in an arbitrary way in order to make fun designs on handmade notecards.  Since I was using the technique to calm my nerves and to meditate into a better mindset, I presented the game as a way to meditate through drawing and to re-center yourself.  It was working for me, at least temporarily.  Clearly, from the responses I received, it works well for others, too. And ... it's REALLY easy to do.  Judging whether or not your drawing is GOOD doesn't come into play.

It has now been five weeks and I'm still connecting the dots and creating continuous line drawings in my sketchbooks.  I'm still not drawing plants, coffeepots, landscapes or figures.  What I am doing, is having important conversations with my inner artist as I'm connecting-my-dots.  With each day my energy grows and my excitement grows, knowing I have crossed another line and I'm once again in new territory.  

There are many layers of my "identity" that need to be shed as they no longer fit very well.  It means both losses and gains.  Growing is always a gamble no matter whether you're young or old.  Above all, I refuse to stop growing.  I now have TWO good hips and I will be ready soon to tackle the mountains again, perhaps more slowly.  going at a slower pace I will take in more of the beauty around me, hear more bird songs and stop to sketch more often.  I will also be able to tackle the larger canvases in my studio that await the pouring of paint.

In the midst of the ups and downs, with the help of my dear friend and artist, Jill, we've been meeting on Monday's at 2pm Atlantic Time (New York City time) for Art Book Club and 3 pm Atlantic Time for Sketchbook Story Time.  These live sessions are available to active subscribers of The Artist's Journey.  The sessions are recorded and the recorded sessions are also available to active subscribers.  Subscribers also have access to all of my online courses.  the Automatic Drawing course is a course that I continue to add to on a fairly regular basis.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Chris Carter



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