It had been a typical day of my being on the phone nearly nonstop, negotiating deals and working with real estate clients. By the time I arrived at The Bascom art campus, I felt as if my brain was glowing (and not in a good way). I walked inside the building and inhaled the art that filled the main floor gallery. When I saw the grinning face of my art teacher, Knight, the crush of the day lifted immediately.
We ducked into a studio space and settled in. Knight had placed 4-5 peaches on a wooden table that were under a spotlight emanating from a lamp clipped to the side of the table. My instructions were to sketch the peaches, taking special note of the shadows, curves, and contours. I nonchalantly sharpened a pencil with a few rotations and studied the peaches with a casual eye, trying to plot a strategy for how to approach the sketch.
I couldn’t quite figure out where to begin or where to focus, so I leaned back in my chair, let my shoulders drop, and exhaled. I stopped seeking a strategy (my go-to, daily approach to living and working). I simply sat and really took in each peach. My eyes grabbed me by the hand and led me into a place of beauty and awareness I had rarely experienced.
I began to cry.
I had probably seen peaches hundreds — maybe thousands — of times before. But this was the first time I had actually SEEN peaches. I was captivated by each and every stunning detail and miracle of the creations in front of me. How perfectly each crevice, curve, and shadow revealed themselves to me. I was astounded at their colors, texture, and shape. I appreciated the divine design of each.
I was also deeply aware immediately of what I had been missing my entire life.
Yes, I had witnessed and appreciated beautiful things in nature, in sweet faces of friends and loved ones, in galleries, on city streets, and in mountain towns and landscapes. But, how often had I had blinders on during the course of each day, just roaring through the world without taking in the breathtaking beauty that completely surrounds me? As the tears tracked down my cheeks, I realized with regret just how often that had been the case for me.
If you truly want to see something — truly experience it fully — sketch it. Drop the notion that you do not know how to sketch. You do know how. Simply get a piece of paper and a pencil and begin. Follow the item’s contour with your eye and let your pencil follow on the page. Send your Inner Critic out on an errand to keep it busy and just relax into the paper, the pencil, and the item you are drawing. The end result as to what is on the page is not the point. The experience IS the point. The seeing and the ensuing awareness are the point.
You will have a feeling inside your body that will initially feel a bit unfamiliar. It is the feeling of moving into your right brain — your zone of creative expression — and it will lift your spirits to untold heights. I typically shudder a bit as this electricity courses through me. You are shifting on an energetic, cellular level, and opening up gently to the world.
You may find you begin to document things you want to remember/capture with sketches. All the better! Give the phone a rest and prop up with your sketch pad and pencil. Sketch to see.
I bet you’ll cry tears of appreciation, too.