Finding Yourself Lost In Drawing: Mindful Portraits

Our Bristol Wellbeing College run informative courses and workshops for learners receiving support from Bristol Mental Health Services, and their carers. On the blog today, we look at the Mindful Drawing art sessions run by artist and art historian Andy Grey.

‘The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.’

Robert Henri

This term, the Bristol Wellbeing College re-introduced our Arts sessions with a new spin, thanks to artist and art historian Andy Gray, who runs our new series of Mindful Drawing sessions.  

In order to make the art sessions accessible for people to do remotely at home, Andy has created a mindful series, starting with Mindful Portraits. All you need to participate is some sheets of paper, a pen, and your willingness to let go of any sense of accuracy or perfection. The sessions are designed instead to instil a sense of liberty. You are encouraged to follow your instincts. Focus on the point where mind meets pen and allow the movement to happen of its own accord, unmediated by the critical eye, and enter into the state of flow. As you draw in this way, you are reminded that creation is more about process than it is outcome.

Below Andy tells us why drawing in this way is so beneficial for our wellbeing. Make sure you also scroll to the end of the page to see some of the fabulous art created.

“For many people the joys and benefits of drawing get left behind early in life. The focus is put upon “producing a likeness” and drawing what we see accurately. This sadly puts many off at school and they decide that drawing is not for them.
“As human-beings we all intuitively want to make marks as did our first ancestors in their cave dwellings thousands of years ago. It is an engaging and fun thing to do after all. Quite naturally it is a mindful activity, we let go of any concerns we may have and explore the patterns and textures developing before our eyes.
“The mindful portrait exercise is typical of this by experimenting with drawing the characterful image of a human face on the screen in front of us and resisting the temptation to look at the page as we draw. We thus quieten our critical left brain, which wants to tell us that the nose is drawn too big, the eyes in the wrong place etc. and instead stimulates our creative right brain which enjoys the process of making marks on paper and begins to make creative connections as the drawing develops.
“In simple terms the right side of the brain is where much of our creativity lies, it is responsible for how we imagine colour, create images and explore spatial visualisation. The left side of the brain is concerned more with logic and analysis and is where mathematical calculation takes place.
“The benefits to our well-being of spending more of our lives in these right brain, creative modes are increasingly well documented and include relieving stress and boosting our mood.
“Much like spending time out amongst nature, finding ways to get a little more of this peaceful creativity into our day is another positive step towards better wellbeing.
“So why not start with some of our mindful drawing sessions and revisit drawing with a joyful acceptance for what it is…marks on paper and embrace the benefits to your wellbeing of getting lost in the process of drawing.”

To find out more about this course and other courses available from the Bristol Wellbeing College, and eligibility, visit:

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