Figure Drawing Practice & Coming Home To Myself

Earlier this year, I started attending a figure drawing session at Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica. For a couple of months I attended weekly, then took a break for the summer, and came back this fall again for weekly sessions.

I will be posting more selections from my work as I look back at these drawings (now sitting in a pile on the floor of my studio or in a large drawing pad), but here are five from yesterday’s session.

If you’ve been following my Instagram or Facebook posts, you’ll know that I had a weeklong period of rest during October, brought on by a serious respiratory virus that knocked me down completely. I found myself feeling extreme gratitude for even one breath. Everything slowed down. I could not “do” anything except focus on breathing for several days.

The gift was that I became aware of a deeper current running through my life and my work right now. I remembered the reason I make art. I felt my soul’s hunger for the food of nourishment provided by PLAY, which is the quality that led me to my visual art practice in the first place, back in 2013.

At the same time, I began hearing and reading stories by women, about the journey of a woman’s life. Motherhood, daughterhood, physical illnesses, accidents, travel, marriage, and learning.

Somehow in these readings I arrived upon a quote by Marion Woodman. It stopped me in my tracks. I had to find out who she was, and what else she had written. One of her many books is “Coming Home To Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul“, a compilation of short, poem-like quotes from her life’s writings.

I have been opening this book to a page (or two, or three) each day since it arrived a week or so ago. Every passage I read leaves me in a place deeply connected to my joy of moving paint around, mixing colors, and seeing where a line will take me. I feel fed by this inspired movement. I have started two new sketchbooks where I paint or draw daily for myself, based on the inspiration that arrives from moving at a slower internal rhythm, prioritizing my time spent in solitude and stillness in nature, and allowing the images from my soul to arise, infused with all the feelings of the day and night and dream world.

These twenty-minute figure drawings (with the exception of Image 4) each started not on a blank page but on “scrap” pieces of painted paper, artifacts from my acrylic mixed media painting practice. They are some of the richest image-stories I have created, as they are evidence of my process of layering paint, lifting, and scraping bits of leftover paint back onto a page. They are never planned, yet are full of feeling and depth.

Before I started each drawing, I opened my Marion Woodman book to a random page, and wrote down a sentence that I found there. I allowed the quote to stay in my consciousness throughout the drawing, although I did not try to preserve the words visually in the composition.

I invite you to contemplate each of the quotes as you enjoy the drawings. If you would like to share your own responses to either words or images, please feel free to post a comment or contact me privately in a message (wildtomatoarts at gmail dot com). I would love to hear from you.

Finding nourishment for our own souls, I am realizing now, is no longer something we can view as a “retreat” or something “nice to do if you can”. Learning and practicing the skills of nourishing the soul, and bringing our souls to the decisions we make and the values we enact, are essential to our healing as a species. We must each do our part, in any small way that we can, if we are to provide any hope of healing our planet Earth.

May your own soul awaken in the enjoyment of these images.

Image 1 (number 11 of 15 for November 2, 2017, drawing session):

“The dream keeps us in touch with that soul in which we all live.” – Marion Woodman

Image 2:

“The dream puts us into a time and space in which we are restored.” – Marion Woodman

Image 3:

“Whether we understand it or not, sometimes we know that Someone is moving us. To know this is to be known.” – Marion Woodman

Image 4:

“Determined to save her life, she wore only white, tended her garden and a few close friends, baked daily bread. And, in one year alone, wrote 366 poems.” – Marion Woodman

Image 5:

“The dream arises from the instinctual world.” – Marion Woodman

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