What Can I Do With My Slow Drawings?
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
Slow drawing has seeped into every part of my art practice. I love the way these nature-based patterns seem to have a connection to everything, and everyone sees them differently. It speaks to the way these patterns repeat throughout nature. I’m going to walk you through a few of my favorite ways to use slow drawing patterns in my art.
First though, it’s really important that we mine your imagination for ideas without mixing them up with mine. I’m happy to share mine, but your creative vision will keep you the most interested and take you the furthest in your art practice, so let’s start there.
Make a list of all the ways you could use slow drawing in art for 5 minutes. Write down the most boring and mundane – like using them as scratch paper for reminders, to the most ridiculous – using them as a pattern to decorate the next space ship. Then write down all the ideas that come somewhere in the middle as well. No idea is too bland, silly, weird, or preposterous.
When your 5 minute timer goes off, read over the ideas and circle the ones you really like. Now you have a ready made list of ideas for the days when you aren’t sure what to create.
Mix a slow drawing pattern with simple ink lines. I’ve been working on this piece, bit by bit, for weeks. It’s a joy to watch it unfold and see where it leads me. I teach this gorgeous ink technique in my class, Inky Lines.
Mix, match, and collage with your slow drawings in your journal. I like to place different ones together to see how they look in teams or pairings. Sometimes I cut them too. I show how to do this and create doors, pop ups and more in my class, The Little Book of Wonder.
Join Our Weekly Slow Drawing Parties:
Cover a journal spread with a slow drawing pattern. Rather than copying this page, look through your patterns and pick one that you really enjoy. As you draw, slow down and enjoy the process – see what it’s like to slow draw for 30 minutes rather than trying to see how much of the page you can cover in that time. A slow drawing pattern page will take you several sittings.
Switch your perspective – notice what the pen feels like in your hand, notice the ink sinking into the page, and the sound of the nib against the paper. You’ve got to slow down to notice these sensations, and when you do, I think you’ll find that you can also hear your own creative ideas more clearly, and your skills will improve more quickly. Slow down to improve fast. The piece will unfold in its own time. This is a building block of my artistic practice.
Mix slow drawing with another art form you practice. The best work you create with slow drawing is not likely to be the ones inspired by my ideas, but the ones the weave together slow drawing and something that is yours. Maybe you’ll be the person to weave together slow drawing and gardening, slow drawing and printmaking, slow drawing and poetry, slow drawing and pottery. Show us what is possible. We know what I would do with slow drawings, now it’s time to see what you would do.
Allow yourself permission to follow your own instincts, I think you’ll be amazed at what you can create, and I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
This e-mail is so timely for me. I was just thinking about where to go next with my slow drawings. The big surprise for me personally is when I stray away from the slow drawing itself and begin incorporating ideas which must come from my unconscious self. Thank you Amy .
I wanted to begin incorporating art in my journals. Looking for ideas I went to Goggle. I believe the universe intersected . You were the first person I felt drawn to and following listening to your introduction and first slow drawing class I went no further. I have spent a large time practicing Mindfulness. Your philosophy of art resonated with me personally.
Hi Janette: I’m so happy that the slow drawing approach speaks to you. It really is such a powerful practice. I wish you many happy hours drawing. xo
I recently completed a rather difficult piece containing bricks for buildings and stone streets. It was a disaster for both. It occurred to me that slow drawing would be great for those techniques. Even mini drawings would work. The problem is doing it myself I just do it wrong. No sense perpetuating an error. Any advice on how to do these?
HI Nancy: Wow that sounds like a big undertaking. You may well get other ideas as soon as I give my suggestion, so listen internally for that as you read…what occurs to me given my practice is to work on really small bits of paper – inchies – and explore bricks in lots of different ways – draw from live, make them more geometric and stylized, make them more loose and simple – this way you have space to experiment before doing a big “serious” drawing. I hope this helps! xo
Thank you so much Amy for these ideas. I have thought about putting them in a journal. I guess my next step is to buy a journal for watercolor that is bound spirally. That might make it easier for me and less bulky since I have not made a homemade journal. I really want you to know that I appreciate your classes and in the inspiration you give me with your ideas and art forms.
Oh yes, having a book that opens flat helps a lot. Spiral bound is a great option. I might also suggest two other brands that open flat but without the wire in the midst of your images: Moleskine watercolor journal and a really great but more economic choice is the Handbook Watercolor Journal
I hope these help and I know you are going to have a blast playing this way. I’m so thrilled that this approach speaks to you. Much creative fun! xo
Amy, thanks for this blog entry; you share so generously! I’ve used some ideas you shared previously to mix some of my small slow drawings into larger pieces. I will also try the ideas you’ve showed us here. I have a couple of journals I made through your class, and I love them. You really contribute to our health with your lessons on slowing down and mindfulness. Thank you!
Hi Anita: Oh it does make me so happy to read that I am contributing not only to your art practice, but your well being. It really matters to me to do work that makes a difference for folks. Thank you. And thinking of you doing the slow drawing patterns in your way in the journal you made in the Coptic Bound Journal class is lovely!
Happy creating! xo
Amy, I love the way we start with a meditation, It seems to help me so much not just to prepare to draw, but for the rest of the day, your voice is very soothing. I have a big wire basket of slowdraws as I have done them since the beginning. I have mounted them on cards, made bookmarkers, and set a few on the shelf as just little (but big) art. I have started to put them all in one 5×8 mixed media book with 4 per page as a sort of dictionary of them and my keeper of them for later times or when I am gone. I love meeting up with you each week to share our time and appreciate you so much.
Hi Elaine – You are so sweet, and I do so enjoy having you at the slow drawing sessions. I love the idea of a dictionary of slow drawing patterns. Now add your own too. 🙂
Trying to keep the tradition of hand written notes alive! I enjoy using my inchies and slow drawing squares on the front of handmade greeting cards. I like to spend an hour or so just making blank greeting cards, then I always have a stash on hand for when a correspondence seems timely.
Yes, Melanie, I’m quite purposeful in keeping hand written notes alive too! Aren’t slow drawings the best for making cards? I like to collage them sometimes too, where one is the background for another.
Hi Amy, i love sharing slow drawings with others. I make them into “kindness” coins (using 2.5 inch punch) or leave them as a square and sometimes add an inspiring word to them. I often leave them places, like on the mirror of a public bathroom for someone to take home with them or I gift them to folx directly. With a group of local makers, we supply these little bits of art inspiration to a local cancer infusions center for clients and their families and care givers. It is hard to keep the bowl filled each month, but we do our best. My next dream, maybe this fall, is to build a free art “library” in my neighborhood. Here is more info about that-
Aren’t public mini art galleries the best! I am so fascinated by that. I also love the kindness coins you have been making, and especially that you are sharing them with folks in cancer treatment – how lovely. Thank you for generously sharing these ideas with everyone both here and in your community. XO
Great suggestions. I have been keeping all my drawings in a small wooden box and look through all of them from time to time.
Thanks for all you do.
Patricia – it sounds like you have a special place for your drawings; I love that. Thanks for reading. xo
Oh, wow Amy! The suggestion of slow drawing and *gardening* has my imagination sizzling! Thank you, as always 💗
Ohh that’s so exciting to hear, Jan. And don’t stop there – take out your journal and make a list of other ideas – who knows where it will take you!xo
First Amy, let me express my deep gratitude for the slow drawing classes you offer each week. They have made such a profound and lasting imprint on my spirit. Throughout the pandemic and now I am still unraveling the impact both slow drawing and your Winter Spells retreat are having on me. I do however, just put the drawings aside, somehow frozen in time. I don’t trust myself to go any further than that. It almost feels like something more powerful than I can handle will emerge, or alternately fall completely flat. Playing it safe. Seems like an odd thing to do with art. We shall see….
Hi Karen: Oh you are the sweetest. I’m so happy that this work is really working on you. xo I would venture an invitation – what if you went back to some of the slow drawings and did more of the same and used those as your experimentation? It may be that there’s a special purpose for that original group, and this honors that. It might also be that there are only so many of them, and so they feel a bit too precious for that reason – making more helps you have room to experiment and push the boundaries more. You’ll know if this is right for you or not. Happy creating!