Tenuous connectivity #resist #indivisible

Tenuous connectivity #resist #indivisible

I admit I am in the throes of a late life (61) identify crises. It feels of similar magnitude to what I went through in my late teens, as I entered my twenties trying to sort out my life direction.

At that time I was a vulnerable, pregnant 19 year old with minimal family support, a few acquaintances from sibling relationships, and the 20 year old father of my daughter. It was 1975. I had quit high school a couple of years before, and had basically been on my own with my boyfriend living in a backyard tent, shared houses, and eventually, a 1956 Dodge bread van converted to camper.

Today I feel vulnerable, but the fact is I own a house under renovation in Vancouver, I have survived 12 years of graduate school, and I have an impressive, if eclectic portfolio demonstrating the breadth of my decades of work and pursuit (digital management systems, painting, drawing and music, education research, carpentry, and project management) and the depth of my inquiries (BFA, MA, PhD, 3,500 hours carpentry, pursuing project management certification).

My crisis arises from sorting out my next career path. What do I invest in now? What do I pursue? Is it spiritual to have ambition? Do I meditate and hope for the best? I have worked hard all my life. I expect to work up to the ‘deadline’. Where is my path? Where does it lead?

I sat down the other evening to make a drawing. I flipped through my thousands of possible photos and this is the one that spoke to me. The mainsail is under load. It is cleated to the boom. The boom is shackled to the sheet rigging. All this connectivity makes it possible for the boat to cut through the water and move us forward.

I love this drawing. The seeming inviolability of the hardware and fasteners is rendered as a tenuous thread of connectivity. It is these connections, these relationships that withstand the sometimes gale forces of nature, that enable us, empower us to move forward.

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2 Pears


Drawing paper. Carpenter’s Pencil. Watercolour: Payne’s Grey, Prussian Blue

The relationship between object and ground. Building subjectivity into the objects, between the objects. How the ground contributes to subjective interpretations. Building character, the qualities of the objects emerging through the process of building form.

A Red Pear


Coloured ground. Prussian Blue. Payne’s Grey. White Crayon.

Work in progress.

Water colour on construction paper. Experimenting with line, tone, colour, and form. The painted areas were soaked so I had to stop to let them dry.

The gesture of the white crayon is as important as the colour and waxiness of the material. The brush line shifted from implied line to outline. I wasn’t happy with that. I worked on it upside down so the paint dribble appears to defy gravity. I like that. Defying gravity.

Using the size and shape of the brush, and the intensity of pigment in the water to build dimension.

drawing calms my brain

I use drawing as a form of meditation. The process of close observation and rendering is an exercise in mindfulness. Mindfulness is the central feature of meditation. Thus, drawing is a form of meditation.

I have noticed that it doesn’t matter what I am closely observing. I can be sitting in a forest drawing from life. I can be sitting at my dining table drawing a pear. I can be sitting in my studio drawing from a photo of an apple on my laptop screen. I can be tracing a projection of a photo of a portrait. It is the process of close observation that works its magic on my depressed, anxious brain.

Another part of the experience is the satisfaction of making a mark. Drawing the pen across the paper and the ink traces my movement. Peeling the paper off a wax crayon and building up depth of colour to create the illusion of 3 dimensionality. Soaking the paper with translucent washes of colour. Layering brushstrokes of acrylic paint to build volume. My brain struggles with the idea of existence. On some level it believes I am invisible. When I draw, my body leaves a mark. Tangible evidence of visibility.

The final experience of drawing is stepping back and seeing what I actually rendered on the paper. There is something awe-inspiring and funny about what I have drawn. I read multiple meanings into the juxtaposition of objects, the colours I chose, the lines and shapes that emerged from the process. I am always surprised by the result. Usually to laugh and shake my head in disbelief. However, the object of my expression, the drawing itself, is precious to me. It has captured something of myself that I could not otherwise put into words.

It sits on my shelf, propped up against the window ledge. I glance at it, coming and going, and with each glance, I am reminded. I did that. It felt good. I exist. I am funny.

Sunday Morning

The simple act of putting pen to paper is transforming. My embodied brain activates along the neural pathway extending from hand, through fingers, pen, ink and onto paper. It is as if my mind flows through these pathways to express itself in tangible evidence of activity.

It is similar with the act of writing, but drawing excites different areas of cognition and allows different languages to appear on the page.

It is strange, baffling and mysterious – in a good way.