I’ve been drawing a lot recently. By drawing, I mean doing a combination of Zentangle and my own designs, and sometimes wilder art, all of it in my art journal. Although I sometimes take pictures of the pages and share those, the drawings themselves all stay in my journal. They’re for me. They’re not really for anyone else. I like to show them to people–several people seem quite impressed and say nice things–but that’s not why I’m drawing them.
I don’t quite know why I am drawing them. I have a part that is feeling incoherent at the moment. Tongue-tied. Drawing feels like a bit of an obsession at the moment, and to be honest, other parts of me are not sure it’s OK. It seems pretty weird. Why am I drawing in a notebook for myself? Why isn’t it something practical, like a card or a gift I can give someone? It would be even better if I could sell it and make some money. In fact, why am I drawing at all? Why am I not writing? You know, something that I could sell and make money. Something practical. Something that contributes to the world.
This part doesn’t care about any of this. She just wants to be quiet, and be left alone, and draw.
What she likes about drawing:
- She gets to pick whatever pattern she wants.
- She gets to play. If the pattern she picked is too hard to draw and it turns out kind of yucky, she was just playing anyway.
- Besides, the thing about Zentangle is even when you kind of mess up, if you do the pattern enough times, it mostly looks OK.
- Drawing is her thing. It’s not anyone else’s. There’s no ego attached to it. There’s nothing invested in it. She’s not supposed to be a really good artist the way I’ve somehow decided I’m supposed to be a really good writer.
- Drawing is her own little world where she can go and just focus on making shapes and filling them in perfectly. It’s hypnotic.
- When some other part takes over and starts to act like “I just have to finish all these circles as quickly as possible” and starts making the circles kind of messy, she notices and makes me slow down and breathe and relax. The point isn’t to get done with the circles. The point is to enjoy drawing the circles.
- It’s hers. She’s very fierce about that. Other parts can show the art to other people and enjoy when they oooh and ahhh, but she doesn’t care about any of that. In fact, she’s sort of impatient. She’d rather just be drawing.
But here’s the part that makes some other parts worry:
It feels like she’s drawing to run away from something. She’s avoiding using words because words don’t feel good. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to feel. She just wants to lose herself in drawing.
Yesterday I tried something different. I tried drawing what the depression and grief felt like after Mama died–the feelings I felt like I couldn’t let out because letting them out would just make Papa sadder and more overwhelmed.
It felt good to have it on the paper. It felt raw, but satisfying. Also concrete. My feelings are a real thing, because they are there on paper, and no one can take that away from me. They really exist.
Something about the Zentangles feels like it’s hiding something. Pretty patterns, making order out of chaos. There are things in there that I don’t always see or recognize until someone else points them out. Some parts don’t like that. I don’t like being surprised by what’s inside my own head. It scares me. I like everything pinned down, logical, making sense.
Something about this is wild. It takes me over. And it feels urgent and compelling. I want to do it more than anything else, more than other things I usually enjoy.
It also feels like I’m waiting for something. I do often draw in little in between awkward times when I’m waiting for Sammy or waiting to go somewhere, but that’s not what I mean. It feels like drawing is something I am doing while I am waiting to figure something out. Waiting to feel better. Waiting until I am not mildly depressed. Killing time until I feel happier.
And there’s definitely some part that’s suspicious of this whole thing. You never doodled before, she says. Why start now? This isn’t something you were good at when you were a kid. Why do people suddenly say you’re good at it now?
Doodler is like honey badger. She don’t care. The whole world can go to hell, as far as she’s concerned. She’s too busy drawing.