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For Times Like These

For Times Like These

The University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy Blog


Associate Chaplain Geoffrey Baines plays with form to explore how drawing by hand ‘proffers a joining of our inside and outside worlds, when the rush and noise of 21st century life refuses us rest and reflection.’ 


Each of the projects described in this book has at its centre something drawn by hand.*
Quentin Blake


A positive thing that can come from anxiety is that it can be a sign that some things in your life, and in you, are out of alignment and need addressing.**
Kate Sutton


Quentin Blake’s words form the opening sentencein the third book I’ve picked up from the illustratorso far this year –If you’ve ever read one of Roald Dahl’s tales, thenyou’ll know Blake’s work.“Something drawn by hand”feels like a very healthy thing to do,Proffering a joining of our inside and outside worldswhen the rush and noise of 21st century liferefuses us rest and reflection.

I’d also picked up a copy ofKate Sutton’s Drawing on Anxiety, a journalin which Sutton encourages drawing in a mindful way:

Drawing calls for us to be more present,it allows the flow state, and to fully focus on thetask at hand, which can be ever so soothing.**

Here are some of her examples: draw

the things you find yourself doing whenunhappy and anxious, andthe things that make you feel calm, drawthe things you hold tightly on to, andthe things you would do if you weren’t afraid.Draw nature taking on a city, thethings that help you sleep better, thethings that help you in the morning, drawyour inner critic, andsome things your body has told you.

This assumes thateveryone can draw –And we can –It’s just that many of us gave up ata very early age; Lynda Barry asks:

How old do you have to beto make a bad drawing?^

How old were you?We wrongly think that some can draw whilstmost cannot, butdrawing is more about seeing than drawing,Being present, paying attention, being led intoa larger world.Don’t draw complicated,Draw simple (I call it doodling) –I love Blake’s images because they are uncomplicated, yetfull of life.

Here are a couple of things to be playful with:

Take a number of objects out of your cutlery drawer anddraw them as simply as possible;Search for “images of Quentin Blake” on your browser,Choose some images you really like and simply copy them.Now to find some words:

Before writing and drawing were separatedthey were conjoined.^

I enjoy illustrating life with doodles and words –Even taking unhelpful thoughts and feelings, anddoing something different with them, something more, sohere’s a third thing to try:Re-member an unhelpful thought –

This’ll never work,You’re rubbish at this,What a mess you’ve made,You don’t belong here;

The internal critic is trying to protect us, butin a really unhelpful way,So, we’re going to provide some help byinserting a word(or replacing negative words like “never” and “don’t”) fromthe following list:^^

(Self) AwarelyBravelyConfidentlyDeterminedlyEnergeticallyFearlesslyGratefullyHelpfullyImaginativelyJoyfullyKindlyLimitlesslyMotivationallyNoblyPerseveringlyQuirkilyRespectfullyStronglyThoughtfullyUniquelyVibrantlyWorthilyeXeptionallyYouthfullyZealously.

When we play with our sample thoughts, they become:This’ll work vibrantly,You’re fearlessly rubbish at this,What a thoughtful mess you’ve made,You bravely belong here.

Create a picture to go with your sentence – perhapssomething a la Blake, and maybeadd a little colour, too.Notice what happens as you do this, asyou playfully and imaginativelyillustrate your life.

*Quentin Blake’s Beyond the Page;

**Kate Sutton’s Drawing on Anxiety;^Lynda Barry’s Making Comics;^^Borrowed from Mourad Diouri’s I am ….

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