I’ve been drawing. This is my kit:

Pencils
Derwent Graphic (9B to 9H)
Derwent Onyx (medium and dark)

Paper
Winsor & Newton 220 g/m² smooth surface (A4 and A5)

Erasers
Cretacolor Monolith (small)
Cretacolor kneaded eraser

Varnish
Winsor & Newton Professional (matt)
Sennelier HC10 Fixative (400 ml)

Other
Derwent pencil extender (7 and 8 mm)
Caran d’Ache pencil sharpener (mechanical)
Daylight Wafer 1 light box (32 x 23 cm)

There’s a Stoic exercise referred to as ‘the view from above’ in which you imagine looking at the world from a distance. It could help you achieve some mental equanimity and a more realistic perspective on your life.

Powers of ten by Eames reminds me of this exercise. In the video the camera zooms out from a scene in a parc towards the edge of the universe (and then zooms in again to DNA-level).

Powers of Ten by Eames Office on YouTube.

I tried to create my own view from above guidance based on a biological classification. Here it is in reverse order:

  • Universe
  • Galaxy: Milky Way
  • System: Solar
  • Planet: Earth
  • Life on Earth
  • Superregnum: Eukaryota
  • Regnum: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Classis: Mammalia
  • Supercohors: Placentalia
  • Ordo: Primates
  • Superfamilia: Hominoidea
  • Familia: Hominidae
  • Subfamilia: Homininae
  • Tribus: Hominini
  • Subtribus: Hominina
  • Genus: Homo
  • Subgenus: Homo (homo)
  • Species: H. (h.) sapiens
  • Specimen: crrmnsrg
  • Datestamp: Late 20th, early 21st century AD

You could expand the above in time with this beautiful video from the American Museum of Natural History about seven million years of human evolution:

Seven Million Years of Human Evolution by American Museum of Natural History on YouTube.

We’ve got distance and time covered. We could add size with this interesting video by Harry Evett:

Universe Size Comparison 3D by Harry Evett on YouTube.

Maybe these videos affect you too. I find they have a soothing effect. They kind of ‘put me in my place’ by highlighting the fragility of my life.

An easy way to start drawing (again) …

Exercise one: keep your eyes closed

Close your eyes and take a couple of breaths. With your eyes closed, start looking for colours and shapes.

Next, try to visualise what you saw before you closed your eyes by imagining contours of objects, shadows and highlights.

Exercise two: keep your eyes open

Do the same with your eyes open. Look around. Compare contours, shapes and colours. Notice parallel lines and gradients.

Exercise three: trace in the air

Keep both eyes open and look around. Use a finger to trace contours in the air. Use your thumb and index finger to compare dimensions. Take it easy, don’t squint.

Exercise four: draw on surfaces

Use your finger to draw what you see on different surfaces. Feel the difference between materials but keep looking at the subject.

Don’t forget to stop when you get bored!

I like this quote from John Armstrong’s How to Worry Less about Money:

At present, people define themselves as being ‘interested in art’. Then they go to art school, develop their ideas and later seek exhibitions. Galleries seek saleable work and try to promote artists. Collectors follow their own inclinations and, for whatever reasons they may have, make the careers of certain artists by buying their work. At some point, public institutions endorse and eventually canonize a few artists as highly important. Along the way there are various publicity mechanisms — reviews in newspapers, interviews in magazines, and so on. Somewhere in the background there are debates about the nature and value of art.