In seeking truth and connection, I found drawing

lady-behind_wuafbaThis lady is a revelation.  She is amazing, not because of her appearance, but because of the state of mind I was in when I drew her.  In my mind, I often separate this part of my life (drawing the body) from the rest of my life, but today it was not possible.  My life and emotions and fears seemed very powerful.  I even dreamt about my problems, after doing much work to see beyond them.  I was really worried.  There must be an answer…. some clarity somewhere… something I must need to see and hear. I tried to write, to find some solace through words; actually, I  have been doing that since Friday (and for years before Friday).  My emotions have been forgotten often this weekend, but they reappear with vengance later.

So, I tried to draw and that was a microcosm of my life – couldn’t find the right thing to draw – couldn’t draw  the woman I wanted to draw, because I am severly lacking all I need to draw successfully.  I am not sure how  (divine intervention, grace, perhaps), I started to draw another woman in the same picture.  She became a focal point. Everything disappeared in the lines, the shadows, the erasing. No judgements, no fears, no lack of skill to stop me, no mind to stop me, I got lost in time and it was peaceful, finally.  I am not sure if there are answers to find or not, but certainly no opening is possible when trapped within the throes of the mind.

The light, the shadows, the steady flow of the line can overcome the constant chatter of the mind. Sometimes it takes divine intervention to let go of the bleak background the mind creates. If it is limiting you know it is the mind; if it is limitless you know it is the heart.

In the practice of drawing, a space opens. This much I know (and for me to admit to knowing something, it has to be strong).  I am grateful for this. I want to let you know, it  is still a struggle for me to accept this, but it is the truth. So in offering my experiences to you, I hope you can find the tools you need to open a space.  A space free from the mind.  I repeat –  I am not an artist but a seeker, and in seeking truth and connection, I found drawing.  I found a teacher of drawing, who could see beyond the judgements and criteria of drawing.  Someone who taught me so much more than drawing.  Yet all I learn is reflected in the practice of drawing.

– Teresa

Vulnerable Girl

draw-my-body-4 draw-my-body-6

This picture was difficult for me to draw.  I drew it many times and I will probably draw it again.  As I drew this girl, all I could see was the way her eyes and face desperately asked for acceptance.  I could see her painful vulnerability and I wanted to just hug her, as if that would be enough to make her feel some self-acceptance.  When I painted her, the softness and beauty of her proportions and her vulnerablity really touched me.  She looks so anxious and nervous, as if her questionning whether or not she is acceptable is a life or death issue…

Maybe I’m exaggerating what I see in her but somehow I know just how strong this feeling is in her because I  have felt it in myself.  The body somehow knows it is perfect just as it is, I could feel that as I drew her.  It is not the body, but the mind that creates this relentless self-judgment in its search for perfection.  We align that perfection with what is socially accepted as beautiful – and even that changes from place to  place and from decade to decade.  The perfection is already there, we just need to open our eyes to see it.

Looking at these finished paintings, I just love her…I  am not sure if it is because she reminds me of my daughter or if it’s her expression.  She looks so vulnerable, I  just want to wrap my arms around her and tell her how beautiful she is. There is something about her. Her body is full of contrasts and painting them was so much fun, I completely forgot that I have no technique for painting… I just did it.  I  had fun finding the shadows and enhancing the light that is already there.  Thank God for fun and play and the moments of peace we find in play. Thank God for the  grace we receive when we play our way past the harshest inner critic.  I also love the fact that the light is always there already – the light on the body, the light of life, of the sun bring us up from our inner darkness.  We just need to keep our eyes focused on the light.

– Theresa

Modelling nude for artists as part of a self-acceptance process

Lilly_1Years ago  I started an informal figure drawing workshop to allow people to draw the human body, nude. Not from a strictly artistic approach… for drawing practice, of course, but also to practice the way we perceive the body in its many different forms. Unlike in art schools, where the models are screened, trained and paid, our models are volunteers, usually with no previous experience, and we rarely tell them how to pose. We let them find their own poses.

The not-paying of the models was something that happened by accident (lack of funds), but what we discovered was that when someone poses for free, the energy is different from if it was a paid job, because they’re giving us something very precious and vulnerable – their body, and their nudity. Some people may talk themselves into doing it for the money, but when it’s for other reasons, it’s different. We get models who are scared to death and others who are rather happy exhibitionists, but we don’t criticize or overly praise. We let them explore and find their own peace and right movement within their bodies as they pose.

Because many of our models are uncomfortable with their bodies and are challenging themselves to face up to a fear, some weeks, the model doesn’t show up. In that case, we just draw each other’s faces, hands or feet instead.

Lilly_2One week when I hadn’t managed to confirm a model, the regular artists were disappointed, so I offered to sit for them, but fully clothed. That was fine with them, but then I started feeling uncomfortable that I couldn’t practice what I preached, and with a mixture of reluctance and frustration, I took off my clothes and continued posing, nude. It was an important moment for me, too, to break through this barrier, and I was grateful for the presence of those whose pencils scribbled peacefully across their papers, not visibly more or less impressed by me than anyone else they’d seen; yet obviously grateful to have another human body to sketch instead of the endless folds of clothing.


The thing is, all human bodies are interesting! Some of the figure-drawing artists that come to our group have seen more nudes than a doctor, but their gaze remains one of impartial appreciation. I’m sure they have preferences, but the simple fact of being exposed to different bodies more often than most people makes them more accepting than those whose references are restricted to their spouse or the usual media images of the body.

I could feel the difference it made for me to face up to this fear, and the dozens of models that posed for us almost all shared similar experiences. Some told me they felt they stood taller after posing nude, walked lighter and smiled back at themselves in the mirror. And by the end of a session, there is a warmth and closeness with the artists too… if they can look at our naked bodies and not laugh or criticize (the way we do!), then we can all learn to be more accepting of ourselves too.

– Colette